Board Presses for Strength and Size

By: Josh Bryant

Al Davis, Cory Mathews & Josh Bryant board pressing at Metroflex Gym

There is a big, strange and strong dude at the gym bench pressing with 2 x 4s on his chest.

His guns look like AR15s compared to the Red Ryder bb guns typically seen in the gym, oh yeah he is also cock strong.

Success leaves clues.

Explaining the Board Press

A board press is simply a stack of 2 x 4s held by a partner on your chest to shorten your range of motion.  Like a bench press, lower the barbell to the boards, then drive the barbell up to lockout as forcefully as possible.

Board Press Benefits

Board press benefits range from handling heavier weights, working targeted range of motion and even for the pure physique enthusiast, taking drop sets to a whole new level.

Huge overload can take place with board presses because they allow you to lift more than your one-rep max.  The bench press has an ascending strength curve, meaning the closer the barbell is to lockout the more force production is possible; in other words, you are weakest at the bottom and strongest at the top.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and that bottom position limits the amount of weight you can lift—this is fine for the bottom end but doesn’t give the lockout portion and the triceps the overload they need to grow and get stronger.

Furthermore, board presses can be used to directly target bench press sticking points.  Board presses even allow guys with bad shoulders to keep on pressing!  I have had powerlifting clients with poor shoulder and pec health train primarily with boards and go on to bench press very successfully in raw power meets.  This is not advisable unless working around an injury, but it certainly beats the alternative of early retirement. 

Application

Board presses are generally made of 1-5 board; for mid-range and lower end strength building go from 1-3 boards, for higher end lockout workout, stick with 4-5 boards.

For maximal strength go as heavy as possible for one to three reps, for strength/size (powerbuilding) stick with four to eight reps and for pure hypertrophy, eight plus reps and even giving mechanical advantage drop sets a try.  Here is a video demonstration of Cory Mathews IFBB Pro performing mechanical advantage drop sets at Metroflex Gym with me.

Making Boards

Jeremy Hoornstra, the best bench presser of all-time, and a longtime client of mine was kind enough to make us a video on how to make your own set of boards, all five in one set for under $10.

Here Jeremy Explains:

Final Thoughts

In the kingdom of increasing, board presses are a helpful servant to the king, the bench press!  They are a supplement not a substitute. 

But if your bench press hasn’t improved since high school and you’re now legally allowed to run for president or your triceps need gasoline on a an almost extinguished fire—give board presses a shot.

Get prepared! 8 x 8 Jailhouse Strong Off-Season Powerlifting

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