5 Steps To a Bigger Bench!
How much can you bench bro? That’s what I get asked a lot as a powerlifter. My answer? not enough! You can never bench enough right? Whatever you can lift, I’m going to give you a crash course on how to improve your bench press almost instantly, and then to keep those numbers going up.
#1 The Setup
The setup of your bench press plays an important role in how much you can lift. It might be the difference in hitting a new PB or failing to hit close to your capabilities. So here’s three things you should be doing I order to setup the bench efficiently.
Squeeze your shoulder blades together and towards your hips, create a slight arch in your kid back by pushing your hips to your shoulders and finally keep your feet flat just behind your knees and squeeze your Glutes (that’s your bum muscles) and drive your knees apart. By doing this you create a stable foundation from which you can create real pressing power.
#2 Choke and break the bar
If you haven’t guessed it by now the bench press is all about tension. We need to create as much torque and tension in order to maximize our force production. Following this trend, when you grab hold of the bar you must squeeze it as hard as possible to add to this tension and also helps to utilize your triceps more when your benching. What I mean by breaking the bar is that that you should try to bend the bar hard by twisting your hands towards your hips. You won’t be able to bend it (if you can then you must be Geoff Capes!) but by doing this you engage your lats. More muscle being recruited, the more force we can create and the bigger the weight we can lift.
#3 Drive with your feet
Now this something that many people forget or just don’t think about. Think of it as reverse electricity, rather than ending in the ground, that’s where it starts for the bench. When the bar has hit our chest (it’s not really a proper bench if it doesn’t) we start the press by driving our feet through the floor, this force then travels though our body, which is full of tension, and culminates in a huge output of force being place into the bar as it is powered upwards.
#4 Train your weak points
Everyone will have their own sticking point when it comes to the bench. Which means you will need to train specific muscles in order to overcome these sticking points. So if you struggle with pushing the bar off your chest then you will need to supplement your training with extra chest/pec exercises to tackle this issue. The same goes for if you struggle with the lockout, this is weakness in your triceps, so doing exercises for them is important to over come that. Here are three exercises for each sticking point you can add in to overcome these weaknesses.
Struggle off the chest
-Flat Dumbell press
-Rack press/Pause Press
Struggle with Lockout
-Close Grip Benchpress
#5 Train your back
I see a lot of people who struggle with bench press who never train their back. These are the people you see with shoulders pointing forward and arms rotating inwards which says to me two things, they don’t stretch and they don’t effectively train those back muscles. You need to work on this as these help reduce a phenomenon which is known as inhibition. If your back is weak it will cap the amount of force you can produce during your bench so it reduces the risk of injuring itself.
You can also create more tension in the setup when you have a stronger back. Remember that we are aiming to recruit those lats when we bench too, so make sure you are doing plenty of pulling work to complement all the pushing stuff.
The Benchpress is much more than just an exercise and as you can see improving your bench is much more than cable flyes and incline bench. It is a whole body movemnet which means you need to train your whole body to get it bigger and you stronger.