Becoming Unapologetically Powerful: 3 Lifts for a Stronger Upper Body and a Bigger Bench Press

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When I tell people that I’m a powerlifter, I sometimes get the question, “So, like, you get on stage in a bikini?”

Oh, goodness no. And that ” goodness no” isn’t meant to imply that powerlifters are in any way superior to figure competitors — it’s just not my thing, and the visual of the mix-up makes me laugh.

It might seem like there is a clear line dividing powerlifters and figure competitors: powerlifters lift heavy weights for lower reps and figure competitors mostly lift lighter weights for many reps. Powerlifters train for strength and figure competitors train for aesthetics. Right? Ehhh, not exactly.

I get it: It’s easy to get caught up in the superhero mentality of lifting super-heavy weights. A great powerlifting program, however, will also include high-volume lighter work, in both the main lifts and accessory lifts that support the main lifts.

I talk about why this is important, particularly for the bench, in the newest video in the “Becoming Unapologetically Powerful” series, “3 Lifts for a Stronger Upper Body and a Bigger Bench Press.” Yes, technique is important when you’re moving heavy weights, but simply stated, having more lean mass helps, too.

I drew inspiration for this video from this article written by trainer Alexander Juan Antonio Cortes for EliteFTS. In it, he pins down one of the missing links for women’s bench press success, so I want you to head over there to read it after watching the video. (Spoiler alert: women powerlifters share more common ground with figure competitors than you might think.)


Oh, hey! You like to talk about lifting weights? Yep, me too, and that’s exactly why I’ve created the Unapologetically Powerful Big 3 School, an exclusive ecourse written with the sole intention of improving your squat, bench press, and deadlift.

Because we don’t like to just talk, we want to walk the walk, too.

The Unapologetically Powerful Big 3 School ecourse is where I give you the information you need to build a strong foundation in the three powerlifts, and have a blast while doing it (because as I like to say, strong is so, so fun!). The course is free and my goal is for you to go forth and crush upon completion.

I want this for you. You with me? Click below to get signed up for the Unapologetically Powerful Big 3 School ecourse now!

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Author:Jennifer Blake

Jennifer Blake’s leggings might be pink but her weights aren’t. A personal trainer at The Movement Minneapolis she is a powerlifting and strongman enthusiast with a passion for human movement, here to spread the good word that strong is fun. Facebook: Strong Is Fun, Twitter, Instagram
Comments: 15

15 Responses to “Becoming Unapologetically Powerful: 3 Lifts for a Stronger Upper Body and a Bigger Bench Press”

  1. Dee
    November 17, 2015 at 7:06 am #

    When should I perform these 3 accessory lifts; before or after bench press? Thanks. Good video.

    • Jennifer Blake
      November 18, 2015 at 6:15 am #

      Great question, Dee! Perform them after. For pushups and dips, complete as many reps as *pretty,* for 2-3 sets. For chest-supported rows, choose a weight that’s challenging but doable for 8-10 reps of 3-4 sets.

  2. Jen
    November 17, 2015 at 7:31 am #

    Please never stop with the these helpful videos! I look forward to them every week. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    • Jennifer Blake
      November 18, 2015 at 6:15 am #

      Thanks, Jen! Glad you’re loving them. 🙂 The series has been super fun to make.

  3. Fabi
    November 17, 2015 at 8:36 am #

    YES! This video is so timely! Thank you for all this amazing information!

    • Jennifer Blake
      November 18, 2015 at 6:15 am #

      You’re so welcome, Fabi!

  4. November 17, 2015 at 8:57 am #

    These are awesome. Three of my fave moves. And the scaling advice is also great for those building back up after baby. Thanks! Sharing!

    • Jennifer Blake
      November 18, 2015 at 6:16 am #

      Yes, it’s always great to know how to pre-gress a movement to where your strength currently sits. Happy to help. 🙂

  5. November 18, 2015 at 8:28 am #

    Love, love, love – great tips once again. Thank you so much xo

    • Jennifer Blake
      November 18, 2015 at 8:30 am #

      You’re so, so, so welcome. 🙂 So glad you’re loving this series!

  6. sarah
    November 18, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

    my only comment is YASSSS QUEEN!

    • Jennifer Blake
      November 19, 2015 at 11:29 pm #

      Ha! I’ll take it and I like it. 🙂

  7. Lesley
    November 19, 2015 at 1:17 pm #

    Another great video.Clear,concise and so helpful.
    Look forward to all your help.
    I am a 52 year old who in 2007 lost 70 pounds with Weight Watchers
    been a leader since as I need accountability.
    Love all aspects of fitness and have a 19 year old daughter who loves weight training,your videos she enjoys also.

    • Jennifer Blake
      November 19, 2015 at 11:31 pm #

      This is so great to hear, Lesley, thank you! And I’m glad you and your daughter are loving the videos — and that you’ve embraced strength together. So wonderful. 🙂

  8. Susan
    June 7, 2017 at 7:46 pm #

    Really nice! And I loved the article you referred to as well. Thanks for continuing to offer so many great solutions!

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