Have you ever wondered, “Why Don’t Crossfitters Bench Press?”
You’ll typically see Crossfitters perform some of the most impressive strength and conditioning workouts of the day.
However, more often than not there seems to be a primary focus on Olympic lifts and bodyweight exercises.
So, is the bench press banished from Crossfit?
And if so, why?
Allow me to reveal all.
Why Don’t Crossfitters Bench Press?
It’s not so much that Crossfitters don’t bench press, but more so that the most well-known WODs don’t incorporate the bench press. Many Crossfit workouts have a specific focus on conditioning and intensity, so having to set up the bench press safely can certainly impact on momentum. Most Crossfitters will incorporate the bench press as part of their regular strength training. Plus, there are actually a vast array of WODs that use the bench press, possibly the most famous being “Linda”.
1. Well-Known WODs Don’t Use Bench Press
I don’t think we’ll ever get an actual figure as to just how many Crossfit workouts of the day (WODs) there are.
Suffice to say, there are literally thousands of them.
However, we are typically used to seeing many of the same WODs being performed.
In fact, the most popular WODs are the ones that always come to mind.
Firstly, there’s Fran, which involves a series of thrusters and pull ups.
Then of course there’s the Murph, which will see you run a mile either side of performing literally hundreds of pull ups, push ups, and bodyweight squats.
And of course there are a variety of workouts that incorporate Olympic lifts, muscle-ups, burpees, kettlebell swings, jump rope, and even the rowing machine.
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Admittedly, there are WODs that are solely focused on big barbell lifts like deadlifts and squats.
But, in the main, most of the workouts will get you using as many muscles in the body as possible, while testing your cardiovascular system to its limits.
I will say that these WODs are the more “favoured” ones to perform, although that’s a slightly masochistic way to look at it.
However, they provide a real introduction to what you can expect from Crossfit.
2. Bench Press Can Impact on Intensity
There is a common theme to the various Crossfit WODs I’ve mentioned above.
They all need to be performed with some serious speed and intensity.
Sometimes, you’re completing your workout against the clock, whereas others involve some of the toughest exercises.
But, either way you’re still looking to complete your workout as quickly as possible.
When it comes to the bench press you will generally have difficulty maintaining this speed and intensity.
Firstly, it will take a little time to set yourself correctly in order to bench safely.
Okay, you could say the same about Olympic lifts, squats and deadlifts.
However, with the bench press you have to lie down and position yourself perfectly under the bar, and this adds precious seconds to the workout.
Plus, as you fatigue, it may make sense to have a spotter to hand.
In truth, this goes against all the principles of Crossfit.
But, that’s not to say it doesn’t happen (more on this in a moment).
3. Crossfitters Will Regularly Bench Press For Strength Work
While you may not have seen many WODs that incorporate the bench press, this doesn’t mean it’s not an important exercise to a Crossfitter.
You may think of Crossfit workouts being all about conditioning and the cardiovascular system, but trust me there’s a lot of strength work going on.
So, you can guarantee that most Crossfitters will regularly train the big strength exercises.
This will include squats, deadlifts, rows, overhead presses, and of course the bench press.
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You will get those that argue that the bench press isn’t as functional as many other exercises.
But, this doesn’t mean it isn’t an important lift.
Plus, a Crossfitter’s training regime isn’t solely focused on performing WODs.
Okay, WODs may be a large chunk of their weekly workouts, but there will be days when they just focus on specific strength exercises.
I will also add that many Crossfit Boxes don’t have enough benches for everyone to be performing direct chest work all the time.
The main reason for this is that a barbell will typically cost the same as a bench.
And all Crossfit Boxes will definitely want an ample selection of bars.
4. There Are Many WODs That Use Bench Press
Now, I’ve mentioned that most of the more popular WODs don’t incorporate the bench press, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
In fact, there are many more bench press WODs than you would think.
Possibly the most famous of them all is the “Linda”.
Linda is often referred to as the “three bars of death”, and it’s easy to understand why.
You’ll need to have 3 barbells set up.
The first bar should be weighted with 1.5 x your bodyweight and is for deadlifts.
The second bar should be weighted with your bodyweight and is for bench press.
Whereas, the final bar should have 0.75 x your bodyweight in order to perform cleans.
The aim is to perform a descending ladder of each exercise, so 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 reps for time.
Some of the other Crossfit WODs that use the bench press include:
- Maximum Bench Press (with bodyweight)
- Maximum Pull Ups
As many repetitions as possible in 5 rounds
Every Minute on the Minute (EMOM) for 20 minutes
- Odd Minutes – 5 Bench Presses (65% of 1RM)
- Even Minutes – 8 Hand Release Push Ups
2 Rounds For Time (Male/Female)
- 24 Deadlifts (295/205 lb)
- 24 Box Jumps (24/20 in)
- 24 Wall Ball Shots (20/14 lb)
- 24 Bench Press (195/125 lb)
- 24 Box Jumps (24/20 in)
- 24 Wall Ball Shots (20/14 lb)
- 24 Cleans (145/100 lb)
- 6 Rounds For Time
- 6 Front Squats (50/35 kg)
- 6 Pull Ups
- 6 Bench Press (80/60 kg)
- 6 Deadlift (80/60 kg)
- 6 Barbell Rows (60/40 kg)
- 6 Shoulder-to-Overheads (30/20 kg)
20, 16, 12, 8, 4 reps of:
- Bench Press (155/105 lb)
- Calorie Row
21, 15, 9 reps of:
- Pull Ups
- Bench Press (135/95 lb)
Rest 3 Minutes
9, 15, 21 reps of:
- Push Ups
- Deadlifts (225/155 lb)
30, 20, 10 reps for time:
- Back Squats (bodyweight)
- Bench Press (bodyweight)
- Strict Pull Ups
“LINDA” – Craig Avera (13:56) & Peter Andes (17:08)
So, as you can see it’s not so much that Crossfitters don’t bench press, but rather that the better-known WODs don’t include them.
I guess we are all very used to seeing the same Crossfit WODs over-and-over again.
That being said, most Crossfitter athletes will regularly train the bench press as part of their strength training workouts.
And even though we may not see the bench press that often, there are plenty of Workout of the Days that make full use of them.
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Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.