Jim Stoppani's 21s for Bench Press

The popular 21s technique isn’t just for biceps. Use it on every muscle group for huge muscle-building gains with this five-day whole-body routine.
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| 21s Refresher |
In case you’re not familiar with 21s, it’s a fairly standardized technique where a single set of an exercise consists of three different parts, 7 reps each.

The first 7 reps are performed through the first half of the exercise’s range of motion (ROM). So if we’re talking about the bench press, the ROM here will go from the bar touching the chest to pressing it halfway up.

The next 7 reps are performed through the last half of the ROM. On bench press, this would be from the halfway point (where you stopped on each of the first 7 reps) to pressing the bar all the way up to elbows extended, but not locked out.

The last 7 reps are performed with a full ROM—the manner in which you’d normally do the exercise.

| Method To The 21s Madness |
Most people who have done 21s before probably just think of it as a high-intensity burnout technique for the biceps. Not only can 21s be used for all other muscle groups, but there’s actually sound rationale for the protocol that goes beyond simple muscle confusion.

Let’s start with the first 7 reps, those in the first half of the ROM. On a given exercise, this is typically the part of the movement where you’re weakest; your “sticking point” should reside somewhere in this range. That’s why you’re doing these reps first, when your muscles are at their freshest.

Not only will you be working on getting stronger in your weakest part of the ROM here, but you’ll also be training flexibility, as you’ll be starting each partial rep from the muscles’ fully stretched position. If you have a tendency to stop a little bit short at the bottom of your reps because of the intensity of the stretch, this will be a good habit-breaking exercise for you.


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