I'll get straight to the point with this one. Everyone loves to bench press including myself but very few do it right. Why do something unless you're going to do it correctly? Try these simple tips to improve your bench. 1. If you don’t set up correctly your bench will suffer…
I’ll walk you through my set up; keep in mind you don’t have to do it exactly like this but I have had success with it and I feel I get tighter on the bench than most people. Start with your chest under the bar and set your feet, this becomes your first base of support (I choose to leave my heels on the ground). Leave your feet in that position as you slide your body through; while sliding through start to arch your thoracic spine and pull your shoulder blades back and down (retract and depress). Once you are in this position push your upper back and head into the bench while keeping your butt on the bench; these become your other base of support. Congratulations you now have a good set up and if you are doing it correctly you should feel extremely uncomfortable; almost cramping in your upper back it’s so tight. Do this even in your warm-ups, I don’t care if its 115lbs or 315lbs each set up should be the same.
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2. Always have the intent to move the bar FAST!
I feel like this is a no brainer but I guess not. You need to go fast and if you’re not fast then at least try and go fast (that would be me). Having this intent to move fast during the CONCENTRIC portion (upward portion) is going to recruit higher threshold motor units allowing you to accelerate with more force thus getting you stronger. So your press should be nice and controlled on the way down, quick pause on the chest and BOOM! Lastly, if you are grinding out reps then you aren’t moving fast so you should oh I don’t know, DROP THE WEIGHT! I just wanna go fast!
3. Do upper back work….. All the time
I don’t care if it’s an upper body day or a lower body day, you should be doing some kind of upper back work every day. A strong back will help your bench press. It’s going to allow you to get tighter on the bench, control the eccentric better, and utilize your lats more. Right now my upper body days consist of two horizontal pulls (any type of row variation) ranging from 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps and my lower body days consist of a vertical pull (lat pull down, pull-ups, neutral grip pull-ups) and scapular retraction work (banded W’s or band pull-a-parts) usually in the 30-50 rep range and I break it up however I want depending on how I’m feeling that day.