5 Tips to Improve Your Bench Press

Monday, May 11 2015 3:08 PM

Probably the most anticipated lift for many trainees…..the bench press. Before even reading this article I hope you are squatting and deadlifting more frequently than you are bench pressing. If you are not, then stop reading and go squat or deadlift something. In all seriousness, those two movements are essential for growth and dominance in any lift.

 

1. Overhead Press More

The strict press is an underutilized lift in the majority of programs. The press has caught a bad rap in regards to shoulder health. However, when done properly it helps to greatly strengthen the shoulder girdle and triceps. You should be overhead pressing the same amount as you are benching or perhaps more than you are benching. Doing so will help keep your shoulders strong and safe and help you build a heavy bench.

2. Dips

Weighted dips will help your bench drastically. Dips put a large amount of stress on the pecs and triceps. If dips are not in your program you are missing out. Put dips in your weekly program at least once, accumulating significant volume, try 8 reps x 4 sets with 2-3 minutes of rest. Increase weight used week over week. If you can’t complete 8 x 4 with your bodyweight then you really need to focus on these for a while.

3. Reverse Band Bench

This is a popular method among the more advanced trainee. I would personally say that this should not be used until you can at least bench 125% of your bodyweight. Basically you attach one or two stretch bands to the bar and the other end is attached high above the bar. This lets the weight you unrack be close to the actual weight on the bar and as the barbell descends the actual weight gets lighter. This lets you “feel” a heavier weight from the start but still lets you complete the entire rep on your own (very different from a negative). I would advise sticking to heavy sets when using this method (3 reps or less).

4. Don’t slack on the pulling

Pulling movements are often overlooked in place of the more desired pushing counterpart. Make no mistake about it, your back has a huge impact on what you can bench. It is silly to think that you only use your triceps and chest to bench press. For every push movement you do in a training session be sure to do a pulling as well. Here are the staples you should be doing weekly (bent over row, chin up, pull-up). Be sure to pull heavy and frequently and watch your bench skyrocket. A strong back and legs are the foundation to being really strong in any movement.

5. Technique

Many have said bench press is bad for your shoulders. And I will agree that it is when done improperly, like 90% of the bench presses I see in the gym. Click this link and watch this video. What you will see here is a curved bar path, in that it starts over the shoulders and stops below nipple line and returns over the shoulders. You will notice an arched low back (butt on the bench) along with significant leg drive (push feet into the floor) to help push the bar up and back. Lastly you will see that he is externally rotated at the shoulder, this is the most stable position and ensures that his elbows with not “flare out” but that they will come down toward his side, therefore keeping his forearm vertical!

Follow these tips and you will be sure to get your bench press past that sticking point. Also, it is scientifically proven that you do not have to bench press on Monday to get bench gainzz. Wait till Tuesday so this doesn’t happen.

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