How to improve your Bench Press19th April * 3 min read
The Chaos Bench – One of the best ways to improve your Bench Press.
There are several methods / variations which can be used to help you improve your Bench Press. Some include overloading the eccentric phase such as negatives, others include tried and tested methods such as the 5×5 programming. This article however will focus on the Chaos Bench and how it can improve your Bench Press as well as your military press. The beauty about this method is not only seeing your Bench Press improve but it also helps improve shoulder stability and shoulder health.
What is the Chaos Bench?
The Chaos Bench has a number of different names and is also known as the Crazy-Bell Bench, Bamboo Bar Bench and / or the Suspended Weight Bench. My favourite is the Chaos Bench and I also feel this best describes the movement. The Chaos Bench is performed like any normal Bench Press but with the addition of a Kettlebell or multiple Kettlebells suspended on the end of the bar via resistance bands. This can be seen clearly in our video below.
Initially you may be thinking ‘that just looks daft’ or ‘that’s just another silly fad’, I don’t blame you as I was the same to begin with. However, the more reading I did around the subject and following trialling the method myself and with several of my clients, the benefits are exceptional.
How does it work?
Before we begin, it’s important to highlight that this method is best used with intermediate – advanced clients to help bridge a plateau or avoid stagnation. The reason being that beginners don’t necessarily need to use methods such as these for progression. Performing the tradition Bench Press will improve a beginner’s strength and proprioception regarding bar movement etc. without adopting advanced methods. The first thing you’ll notice in our video is that the Kettlebells are suspended as outlined above, this makes the bar unstable and far harder to control. The movement therefore becomes almost ‘chaotic’ requiring your nervous system and fixators around the shoulder to be activated and work harder. Although the prime movers (the chest and the triceps) are still working relatively hard, the majority of the work is being performed by the shoulder and all the stabilising muscles around the shoulder capsule such as the rotator cuff (teres minor, infraspinatus, supraspinatus and even the subscapularis) are working harder than usual.
Improving shoulder health, strength and stability will transfer to your normal Bench Press and even Military Press extremely well. It will help you control the path of the bar and to be able to recruit more muscle fibres than usual due to a far better neural response / ability.
Another benefit to the Chaos Bench is not only the instability but as you go through the movement the Kettlebells (or Dumbbells if you want) will move and bounce up and down causing an increase in the load. So don’t be fooled at how easy our Tutor makes it look in the video, it is tough.
Where did the Chaos Bench originate from?
I’m not too sure. However, one of the most renowned strength coaches Louie Simmons who owns a gym in America which has a reputation as the strongest gym in the world as most of the world record holders in the Bench Press, Squat and Deadlift train there via invitation only, uses this with his athletes. This is where I initially came across this method, and as I mentioned above, it improved my Bench Press no end and as a result I regularly Incline Bench twice my body weight comfortably as a result.
How to progress it?
Unfortunately, the Fitness Industry as a whole is full of strange, weird and dangerous training concepts e.g. I never did understand why people squat on a Swiss Ball – surely the potential of injury far outweighs the benefits. However, there are some pretty cool and beneficial adaptations to the Chaos Bench. I strongly suggest however that you don’t attempt these if you’re new to training as just performing the Bench Press will improve your strength initially as outlined above. I suggest leaving methods such as these until you plateau or stagnate.
- Increase the overall weight
- Use multiple Kettlebells either side – more instability
- Perform at an incline – less Chest recruitment
- Reduce the tension of the band – more movement
- Increase the speed of the movement – requires more control & stability
- Pre-fatigue the chest – this will force the shoulder to work harder
At FHQ we hope you found this article interesting and informative. If you have any questions, please comment below.
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