Here at NBS we have many things that are out of the norm, including a bunch of weird equipment that the majority of gym goers have never seen. We have more bars, kettlebells, and weights per square inch than most training facilities within 300+ miles of Memphis, TN. Did I forget to mention a FOUR time reigning master’s Olympia strongman, several highly competitive bodybuilders, crossfitters, and over 15 elite level powerlifters? There is a reason all of these highly competitive, motivated, and successful athletes come to this facility. The specialty equipment is a small portion of the reason. In this series of articles we are going to pick out flights (groups of three) pieces of equipment not readily available in a standard gym, then give you THREE ways to use each one properly including other neat ways to utilize the equipment to help you in your strength goals!
The first “FLIGHT” of specialty products we will look at are bar attachments and boards for bench pressing. The reason I decided to group these together is they are close relatives since they do similar things. May I introduce to you the EliteFTS Shoulder Saver BLACK and RED, along with their cousin the BenchBlockz, and Boards. Each of these devices decreases the bar’s range of motion on the bench press, serving several different purposes.
The Shoulder Saver Black And Red are pad attachments developed to decrease the range of motion during a bench press, which decreases the strain put on the shoulder capsule, hence the name, “Shoulder Saver.” This was a fantastic application, allowing people recovering from injury to still be able to bench press and practice proper benching mechanics without risking re-injury. This piece of equipment is also used to aid lifters in building strength in their lower, mid-range, and upper pressing positions by causing you to produce concentric force in the area of the lift you are the weakest in the bench press. As you look at both the Red and Black Shoulder Saver’s you instantly notice the difference in size. I personally like using the red application for close grip work and the black for any other bench variation. The Red decreases the range of motion (for me) during close grip bench just enough to keep my scapula from protracting which would turn off my triceps and put me in a inefficient position. During a close grip we want to focus solely on the triceps.
BenchBlockz was a fantastic invention for those who are looking to get the “biggest bang for their buck”. The piece of foam allows you to have the equivalent of a one to four board in one. This saves a ton of space and they are very convenient to carry in your gym bag. BenchBlockz can be used in the exact way as the shoulder savers, with the added bonus of decreasing the range of motion even more. This benefits a shoulder injury even more as we can make a longer safer progression back down to our chest after injury. BenchBlockz give you increased ability to isolate triceps with the four board side selected while doing close grip, less intrusive than a board resting on your chest when trying to get closer to a competition bench, and does not need the help of a spotter to use.
THE original Board Press. This is where it all came from, the “OG” of benching specialty equipment. For those who are trying to save a buck you can make these yourself and customize them with logos or designs. Boards have the same uses as the Shoulder Saver and BenchBlockz, but they are the grandfather. They require a second training partner to hold them and are still to this day preferred by geared lifters when going heavy. One of the coolest uses I have seen for these pieces of equipment is, “Tricep Hell”. This exercise uses up to three or four boards heights, back-to-back. You do a close-grip bench press starting up top with the four board, then three, then two, touch chest, then climb back up to a four board… that’s one set, (evil laugh).
So get out there and board-up to help your bench, play with different setups, ask advice when implementing them. All this equipment is here to help along with all of the NBS staff, just do not use the pads or boards improperly like shown in the video. If I see that I will encourage weights to be thrown at you.
Stay tuned for the next few articles as we look at Slingshots and catapults for bench press, bands/chains/boxes for everything, and specialty attachments for the cable system.