RepBoards are designed for "board pressing," which is a form of partial training.
And I'll tell you right up front…I'm a BIG fan of partial training.
Partial training has the potential to add poundage to your lifts, build the strength of your connective tissue, enhance nervous system efficiency and condition your body for the use of heavier weights.
Many people look upon partial training as cheating. They believe that because you're not doing a "full" range of motion, partial training is somehow not doing anything beneficial for your body.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Think of it this way...when you're climbing stairs, do you naturally take 4 stairs at a time to get a "full range of motion" or do you take one step at a time. If you had to push a car, would you drop down into a full squat by the bumper to start pushing or would you push as much as you could in a position where you can get maximum power rather than a full range of motion.
Your body, when you think about it, rarely wants to operate in a full range of motion and rarely does. Avoiding partial training completely means shortchanging your results.
And that's where RepBoards come in.
RepBoards are a unique product from the UK that help you do a very beneficial form of partial training specific to the bench press, known as board pressing.
Board pressing is a technique for doing partial range training on the bench press.
With "normal" board pressing, you have a partner hold short boards on your chest (if more than one is used, they're fastened together) to shorten the range of motion of the exercise. The bar touches the boards, then you press back up.
It works differently than rack pressing in that it doesn't take the weight away from you at the bottom (which happens in the rack when you set the bar on the rails between reps).
And yes, when pressing in the rack, you COULD just stop the range of motion partway down and reverse it. Board pressing better mimics actual bench pressing where you touch the bar to your chest then reverse the movement, though. Also, by using a board(s), you can be sure you're lowering to the exact some point each time.
Board pressing is a secret weapon of powerlifters for increasing strength in the bench press fast. Powerlifters don't care about being politically correct about range of motion. If it gets them stronger, it'll get used and board pressing definitely gets used.
RepBoards are designed to allow you to do board pressing without a partner to hold a board on your chest, giving you the benefits of this powerful technique without having to have somebody else around to assist.
One important thing to note is that I still HIGHLY recommend performing RepBoard pressing in a power rack. Even though the equipment shortens the range of motion, it doesn't act as a safety device. If you train alone, this is a MUST, especially because you'll be using supra-maximal weights in that shorter range of motion. If you train with a partner, you'll be able to get away with not doing these in the rack, but make sure your partner is paying full attention while doing your sets.
So What ARE RepBoards?
Essentially, it's an adjustable strap that goes around your torso. This strap has a Velcro fastener that you slide around to place on your lower chest when you go to bench press.
The "boards" themselves are made of high-density foam and, while being very light, are actually quite durable. These foam pads also have Velcro on them to affix to the Velcro on your chest, holding the boards in place.
RepBoards come with a set of 5 foam pads are easily adjustable just by adding and removing these boards.
Do RepBoards Work?
Honestly, when I first saw RepBoards I immediately could see the benefits of this piece of equipment. I had used board pressing in my own training previously and, not having a training partner, had resorted to using training bands to strap boards onto my chest!
RepBoards were exactly what I was looking for to fix this problem and make full use of board pressing, so from a functional perspective, they absolutely work.
Do they have the potential to help you increase your bench press?
I've been using the RepBoards for a number of training sessions and the more I use them, the better I like them. I've noticed a positive difference in how I'm able to handle heavier weight when doing full-range pressing because the board pressing better mimics actual bench pressing than normal rack pressing.
In my experience, this translates directly into increased bench press numbers.
Partial range training just on its own is very beneficial…I've been using rack pressing for more than 17 years.
That being said, since I've started using RepBoards, I've gravitated towards using them rather than normal lockout rack pressing (even though I can use almost DOUBLE the weight on rack lockouts) simply because I've found them to have more carryover to my full-range bench press. When using board presses, you don't press off the rails…you unrack the bar (like you normally would) then lower the bar (like you normally would) then press up. Your body gets no break and the overload on your muscles and connective tissue is actually greater, even though the weight is significantly less.
Things to Improve on the RepBoards
Overall, I really like the feel of this piece of equipment. I wouldn't mind having more Velcro both on the chest strap and the boards themselves, in order to have the boards feel more solid on the chest. That being said, I never once found the boards moving around, so it's probably just more a matter of personal preference.
The other thing I was going to suggest to improve has actually already been improved by the maker, so it doesn't really count…the RepBoards that I have, once you start using more than 350 lbs or so with them, may start to show signs of cracking. I never experienced this myself, but a few other users of the RepBoards did, once they started getting into the heavier weights.
In response to this feedback, the maker of the RepBoards has made available a "Pro" version that has even stronger, higher-density foam. If you're currently benching 300 lbs or aim to bench more than 300 lbs, I would suggest picking up this version.
There's nothing here that should prevent you from picking this up, if you're interested in it.
RepBoards are an excellent piece of training equipment that really DO have the potential to help you increase your bench press FAST. Obviously nothing is going to work if you don't put in the effort in your training, so just getting this won't guarantee results.
If you DO put it into use in your training and work hard at, you WILL see the benefits in terms of increased maximum bench press, greater confidence under the bar, and better connective tissue strength.
In my opinion, if you're really serious about increasing your bench, this is an excellent piece of equipment (and especially if you train alone and don't have a partner to set a board in place for you).
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