Dear Bench Press: I Love You

As you’ve probably guessed by now, when I’m having a “good thyroid” day, I tell y’all about my workout adventures, and when my lame-ass thyroid underdelivers, you get posts about cooking and Smudge and books and all the other things that make me happy.

Today, you get workout news… yay!

CrossFit Women
5X5 Bench Press
50 situps + 50 lunges “rest” between sets

Dave and I usually do bench press about once a week at the craptastic gym because a) we like them; and b) they make us feel successful. It’s not an overly-complicated move – hello, squat clean and snatch! – so it’s easy to feel in control and awesome. Lie down, tighten body, press bar, celebrate. Nice!

My previous 5-rep max was 100 lbs. and when I grudgingly opened my eyes  this morning – after slapping the snooze once – I wasn’t sure how things were going to go today. My eyes were puffy; my mood was a little below sea level.

But the warmup magic worked. Coach Crystal and Coach Jen made me want to try – Blake and Leslie and Maggie and Amber and Jill and Tiffany made me feel like part of a team

My numbers: 90 – 95 – 100 – 105 – 110

Yep. New PR on the 5-rep max.

Yesterday, I was a simpering, wimpering heap on the couch; this morning, improved!

I have to give a shout-out to my classmate Leslie. She doesn’t always attend our 5:45, but having her with us this morning was a treat. She was the first to go up to 105, which inspired me to try it – and after she pressed the 110, she told me I could do it, too.

I made it through three solid reps before crapping out on the fourth, and it took two attempts – plus a pinkie-fingertip assist from Leslie – to complete the fifth and final rep, but I’m counting it.

We wrapped up with core work: two sets of V-situps (which seem to have been invented with the sole purpose of making me feel like a sea lion trying to hoist my girth onto a dock), 30-second side planks, and a max-hold plank (or two minutes, whichever comes first). I made it the full two minutes and, maybe probably surely could have made it a bit longer.

Planks + bench press = good day.

If you’re working on your bench press, here are a few cues I picked up from a video in the CrossFit Journal and from Jen & Crystal this morning:

1. Bench press is a full-body exercise. Before moving the bar, it’s important to contract your core and press your feet into the floor.

2. Use your back, too. Pull your shoulder blades together before initiating any movement.

3. Use your breathing to assist. Inhale at the top, hold the breath as you lower the bar, then exhale as you press the bar to full extension.

4. Use the full range of motion. Touch the bar to your chest, right at the nipple line. (Heh, I said “nipple.”) And extend fully at the top.

5. Spotters are angels. Make sure you have a spotter to minimize your anxiety and help you out if you get stuck. It’s a good idea to talk about what your signal to your spotter will be if you need help. I generally croak “HELP!” at Dave; you’re free to choose your own safety word. “Sunbutter!” perhaps?

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  • girlblake says:

    I love that you love bench press 🙂 It was a fun morning, and I'm glad you felt it too! I was in awe of your bench press and your plank. whew!

  • Anniebug, bugger or BUG. says:

    Congrats on the PR! I work with Leslie and she is pretty AWE-SOME. Tonight, I take on this WOD and hopefully, will have as much success as you!