Increase Your Bench Press Power with this Upper Body PAP

A strong press is dictated by how much weight you can move. Although, a powerful press is indicative by how fast you can move that weight. Strength and power go hand-in-hand, which is why I love post-activation potentiation (PAP) and complex training.

Complex training is great because it involves being a strong and fast, which are two major keys of athleticism. Plus, you can perform complex training for the lower-body and upper-body to improve your strength & power output, win-win. If you’re currently finding yourself plateauing on the bench, then this protocol may be the tool you need to develop more pressing power.

When you’re performing complex style training, there are multiple factors to consider to ensure your body will respond optimally. Check this list to see if you have the qualifications needed to optimally benefit from complex training. Today we’ll focus on a few methods to increase pressing power with a bench press.

Pressing PAP

For this PAP exercise selection we’re going to use the barbell bench and two upper-body plyometrics variations: supine med ball throws and explosive push-ups. These variations will be split into an intermediate and advanced category.

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  1. Intermediate: Barbell bench press x 3 (80%) ~ 3-minute rest ~ 6-8 med ball throws ~ 4-minute rest

2. Advanced: Barbell bench press x 3 (82%) ~ 3-minute rest ~ 4-5 explosive push-ups ~ 5-minute rest

A key to be successful with any form of complex training is the close observation of excitement:fatigue ratio. This means the heavy lift prior to the plyometric (power movement) is exciting the nervous system, as opposed to fatiguing it. If you cross the line into a fatigued state, then your performance will decrease and make this training a moot point.

The above percentages, reps, and rest times can be manipulated to your goals as well. In terms of rest, research tends to agree that 3-5 minutes is enough time to recover and perform well. If you find yourself struggling to recover in the times given, adjust time accordingly to your physiological needs.

It’s important to remember that everyone will respond differently to complex training. Pay attention to how to body responds and tweak exercises accordingly.


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Jake holds a Master's in Sports Science and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Jake serves as one of the full time writers and editors at BarBend. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and has spoken at state conferences on the topics of writing in the fitness industry and building a brand. As of right now, Jake has published over 1,100 articles related to strength athletes and sports. Articles about powerlifting concepts, advanced strength & conditioning methods, and topics that sit atop a strong science foundation are Jake's bread-and-butter. On top of his personal writing, Jake edits and plans content for 15 writers and strength coaches who come from every strength sport.Prior to BarBend, Jake worked for two years as a strength and conditioning coach for hockey and lacrosse players, and was a writer at the Vitamin Shoppe's corporate office. Jake regularly competes in powerlifting in the 181 lb weight class, and considers himself a weightlifting shoe sneaker head. On the side of writing full time, Jake works as a part-time strength coach and works with clients through his personal business Concrete Athletics in Hoboken and New York City.