Hitting new ‘bench’ marks: Use a simple tool to become stronger

    [First published in 2013. Part of the Training for Warriors series, by Martin Rooney*]

    Having trained high level Jiu-Jitsu players for years, I know that if you are focusing your attention on the mats, you will not always have a lot of time (or energy) for outside training in the gym. This, however, is still not an excuse to let your strength levels plummet while you work more on technique. Even though Jiu-Jitsu will probably create a slight drop off from your lifting personal bests, you can still maintain (and gain) strength while focused on “the gentle art.” The goal of this article is to remind you that a little extra time spent during warm ups and strength training can go a long way over time.

    Many people may believe that you need fancy equipment to get superior results. I believe, on the other hand, that the power is not in the tool, but how the tool is used that produces the degree of effect. Not every gym has every new piece of equipment, but the good news is that most gyms are sure to have a bench. And why should the bench get much use? In this day and age when every new training tool seems to have a thousand uses, I want to remind you that the simple bench not only has opportunity for variety, but you also get to use your most important piece of equipment: your body.

    Full Body Bench Workout
    The following workout uses only two pieces of equipment: a bench and your body. This workout addresses the upper body, lower body and core and can be done multiple times per week as a quick, yet powerful circuit training workout to maintain strength and conditioning for the mats. The goal is to perform each exercise in a circuit for the number of repetitions listed below, rest for 1 minute in between circuits and repeat for 5 total sets.

    1. Bench Pike Press
    Begin with the feet on the bench and the hands on the floor in a pushup position. Walk your hands back so that your chest is vertical and hips form a 90 degree angle. Lower your head and chest to the floor. Pause for 1 second and press back to the original position. Repeat for 8 reps.

    2. Bench One Legged Pushup
    Begin with the feet on the bench and the hands on the floor in a pushup position. Raise one leg in the air while keeping the core tight. Lower the chest to the floor and hold for 1 second. Press back to the original position and repeat for 10 reps.

    3. Seated Crunch
    Begin seated on the edge of the bench with the hands at the sides and the knees and feet pulled up toward the chest. Extend the knees and feet out straight while keeping the core tight. Return to the original position and repeat for 25 reps.

    4. Bench Reverse Hyper
    Begin lying with the chest on the bench and the hips and legs hanging off the bench as shown. Extend at the hips and knees so that the body is completely horizontal. Hold for 1 second and return to the original position. Repeat for 10 reps.

    5. Bench Mountain Climber
    Begin lying with the chest on the bench and the hips and legs hanging off the bench as shown. Extend one leg at the hip and knee while the other stays hanging from the edge of the bench. Alternate the position of the legs to simulate a mountain climber exercise. Repeat for 20 total reps.


    * Martin Rooney is the author of Training for Warriors, Ultimate Warrior Workouts and Warrior Cardio.  He has trained champion fighters for the UFC, Pride, ADCC and Olympics.  Information about upcoming TFW certifications at

    This article was originally published on

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