Flat Barbell Bench Press is one of the most popular
exercises in the gym, yet how many people know
the most important techniques for maximizing strength
and power during each rep?
this article, you will find solid tips without
the fluff. These tips will instantly help you
to improve your bench press RIGHT NOW! You don't
need any special equipment to use these techniques,
just a willingness to learn.
of these tips will be further demonstrated with
pictures (there will be a link to this picture
page at the end of the article).
1. Proper Hand Spacing For Bench
perfect bench press rep starts without any weight
on the bar. Why no weight? The first thing you
need to do is determine your proper hand spacing
on the bar.
down on the bench and unrack the bar as you normally
would. Lower the bar to your chest and have a
partner take note of the orientation of your forearms.
For optimal power, your forearms should be as
close to vertical at the bottom of the rep as
possible. Adjust your grip accordingly and take
note of where your hands are in relation to the
smooth rings on the Olympic bar.
reason for this is simple: if your hands are placed
wider, some of your pushing power will be expended
pushing outwards rather than upwards. If your
hands are placed closer, power is expended pushing
inwards. When your forearms are vertical, the
vast majority of your power goes to pushing the
bar directly up.
2. Lock Your Shoulders In
that you have your grip properly positioned, put
some weight on the bar. Lay back on the bench
and plant your feet firmly on the floor. Your
knees should bent at about an 80 degree angle
(I will explain the reason for this later - this
tip has an accompanying picture). DO NOT place
your feet up on the bench. You will lose stability
and potential power by doing this.
your hands on the bar in the grip width that you
that I like to use to lock my shoulders into the
position for maximum strength and stability is
of placing your palms on the bottom of the bar,
place them on the back of the bar (this tip also
has an accompanying picture).
without removing your grip, rotate the bar down
so that your palms are now directly under the
bar. This has the effect of placing your shoulders
into their most stable and strong position. It
will almost feel as though you are "locking
down" your shoulders.
you are rotating the bar and locking down your
shoulders, lift your torso slightly off the bench
and force your shoulder blades together tightly
underneath your torso.
will force your shoulders back and puff your chest
out, placing the pectorals in a position where
they have a more effective line of pull. It also
has the added bonus of making your torso thicker,
reducing the distance you need to press the weight.
your shoulder blades squeezed tightly behind you
for the duration of the set.
illustrate the shoulder-locking tip that
is done just before lifting the weight off
At the start,
the hands are placed on the back of the
bar rather than the bottom of the bar.
begin the rep, rotate the bar so that your
hands are under the bar.
"locks" in the shoulder joints,
placing them in a more stable position.
3. How to Lower The Bar For
the bar from the racks and tighten up the muscles
of your torso. Begin lowering the bar under complete
control to a point at the bottom of your sternum
(about even with the bottom of your sternum, a.k.a.
the breastbone). Imagine as though your muscles
are springs storing up all the energy of the weight
lowering and getting ready to explode it all back
out. Inhale as you lower the bar and feel it tightening
up your chest.
touch the weight to your chest. DO NOT bounce
the weight off your chest! This can cause injury
in the form of cracked ribs or even snapping the
tip of the sternum (a little bony protrusion known
as the Xiphoid Process). It also diffuses the
tension you've built up in the pectorals, reducing
the effectiveness of the exercise for building
strength and muscle mass.
4. Drive With the Legs For a
Stronger Bench Press Out of the Bottom
you start to change the direction of the bar and
begin the press up, drive with the legs. This
is a technique that most trainers do not know
about. It's strange to think about it but your
leg power can actually help you bench press more
should be practiced with an empty bar before
attempting it during a regular set. Start
by planting your feet flat on the floor
with your knees bent about 80 degrees. This
angle is very important as it is what allows
you to push with your legs.
the empty bar to your chest. The moment you start
to push the bar back up, push hard with your legs
as though you are trying to slide your body up
an empty bar you probably will be able to slide
yourself up the bench. When you have a loaded
bar, however, the weight will keep you from sliding
and the pushing power from your legs will get
transferred through your body and into pushing
the bar up.
is what's known as driving with your legs. It
can really beef up your power out of the bottom
of the rep.
5. Breathing During the Bench
forcefully through pursed lips as you continue
to push the weight up. This will help maintain
your torso stability better than simply exhaling
all at once.
your feet firmly planted on the floor even if
you start to struggle with the weight. The moment
you lift your feet off the floor, you break your
base of power and the odds of you completing the
lift diminish greatly.
you have a tendency to shift your feet around,
try placing 2.5 pound plates on your feet. This
is not to weigh your feet down but to help you
be more aware of what is happening with your feet.
If a plate falls, your foot has moved. Strive
to keep those plates in place.
bar should follow a slight backwards arc as you
press it up, moving from your lower rib cage to
over your face at the end of the rep.
aware of your sticking point and try to drive
the bar through it rather than letting the bar
slow down as you come up to it. There are many
training methods for working on sticking points
that I will delve into in a future article.
the weight up to lockout. You have just completed
the perfect rep! Now do it again!!
Using these techniques can add immediate poundage
to your bench press. Your chest will thank you
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