Bench Press (HTML5-version) by Athletic Design
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This is a button basher of the original kind – the faster you press, the better you do! It uses keyboard keys or virtual buttons on touch screen devices. (There will soon also be a full screen version.)

There are two game variants. 1. Lift the heaviest weight. 2. Complete five reps with 225 pounds in the shortest time. Both can be played in either the Easy or Hard way. Therefore there are four modes and a medal can be earned in each. The ultimate goal of the game is to get four gold medals.

Four keys/buttons are pressed to apply force. Use one finger per button and simply hammer them as fast as possible to counter the force of gravity. But don’t press too fast at the start - the weight must be lowered to touch the chest before you lift it!

For best results you’ll need to rest between attempts. You will be surprised how similar playing is to real exercising - so go grab a protein shake and start working out!

Key presses exert force

In Easy-mode every key press is equal and contributes force to both arms. In Hard-mode a press on the left key-pair contributes force to the left arm, and a press on the right key-pair contributes force to the right arm. That’s why the bar can tilt in Hard-mode only.

In real life a muscle can exert more force while it is lengthening (eccentric contraction) than while it is shortening (concentric contraction). This is simulated in the game and means that it will be much easier to stop the bar from falling than actually lifting it.

Still, when attempting a new record, you may not be able to stop the bar despite hammering like a maniac from the very start. The ribcage to the rescue!

Spring-like ribcage

The bar compresses the ribcage, which acts like a spring and exerts an opposing force on the bar – the bigger the compression, the bigger the opposing force. However, at a certain point the ribcage will collapse and that’s when you are ‘buried’. That is, there is a Big Risk Big Reward mechanism at play. If the bar is stopped near the point of collapse, lots of momentum subsequently builds up as the ribcage unloads and button pressing frequency remains high. Note however that the ribcage is of less use in the timed-five-reps game variant, especially for very strong players.

As a side note: The role of the ribcage is exaggerated compared to real-life bench pressing, but in competitive bench pressing elastic aids like elbow wraps and stiff shirts exploit the same mechanism.

Another side note: The elasticity parameters of the ribcage are not exactly the same as in the original Flash-version of this game.

Grip width

Grip width can be set from the menu screen (this was not possible in the original Flash-version). It decides the lifting distance and bar stability much in the same way as it would in real life. Generally, a wider grip is more favorable (but remember that stability does not matter in Easy-mode).

This game allows a wider grip than the max-81-cm-between-forefingers of competitive bench pressing.

In real life, grip width also has a profound effect on what muscles are placed under most stress. A narrow grip stresses the triceps, while a wide grip stresses chest & shoulder muscles. This is not really simulated, but the positions of the buttons do change in accordance to the grip. Obviously the keyboard version handles this in a slightly different way than the touch screen version. You will have to explore this yourself. While the one-finger-per-button control is the intended one (and the one the medal standards are set from) nothing is stopping you from trying to find quicker methods ;)

PLEASE NOTE that some keyboards do not register four presses at once for keys that lie close together. Therefore, the '3'+'4' '7'+'8' grip may not work on all keyboards.

For a good understanding about the nature and limits of pressing frequency, read the texts that accompany our Flash-game 40-Yard Dash.

We are planning several forthcoming Bench Press games that will feature cartoonish characters that have different strengths and weaknesses. In one such game we may let the outer buttons correspond to arm force and the inner buttons to chest & shoulder muscles.

Super Power

If you already have played this game extensively, you may have encountered flashes of apparent super power and wondered how to trigger them deliberately. You can’t really. The fuming ears and the furious screaming are triggered at critical never-say-die moments: when you have been struggling for several seconds close the collapsing point of the ribcage or close to the lock-out position when upward momentum since long is gone. Never give up!

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