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Bench Press Tips to get more weight off the bar from Boss Barbell Seminar


cannon canoe

“You can’t fire a canon from a canoe”

The stable base for increasing your bench is your traps, rhomboids and lats.  The glutes and leg drive help to bridge that stable base into the bench.

I learned a way on how to bench from your stomach.  Well not really from your stomach, below your chest. It’s hard to describe but I’ll try.

You allow the bar to “sink” into a spot somewhere in your lower chest/upper stomach region and basically push press it up with the help of your hips to get the bar to point where you can press vertically.

This bench technique seemed exotic to me, but I’ve seen it before. It’s just fascinating on how a bench press can really be like a push press. Having lots of leg drive makes a lot of sense here.

Coach Mike did the beginning part of the seminar. He demonstrated his set up and showed us how to bench. The press from his chest was very quick, abrupt and explosive.  It’s eye opening when you’re able to see a proficient powerlifter perform a competition style bench.

Very fast tricep extension.

Of course there was only a plate on each side, it was helpful to see the execution.

Dan was sort of arguing against having strong triceps for raw lifters. He hears so many people talk about tricep strength in the bench press.

I’ll say in a few words what he said: your chest has more potential for strength and growth than your triceps do.

This is somewhat counter to what Louie Simmons said when he briefly talked about the bench press in the barbell shrugged podcast.

It’s somewhat hard to recall everything from the seminar because I missed part of it waiting for the bathroom (there was a lot of people and there was a line).  Much of what I recall from Boss Barbell is a combination of my notes and his interview on Mark Bell’s Powercast.

In my own bench session, I found that a slightly wider grip help allowed me to do more weight.  I was able to PR on a pause bench for 275lbs.  Not too bad for my second session training with the movement.  My 1 actually 1RM is 305lbs, touch and go.

Leading up to my PR I kept thinking about creating that stable base between my shoulder blades and traps.  After about 3 or 4 warm up sets my lats were pretty much on fire.  Almost too a point where I thought they might cramp and cause my lower to get too tight.  I can see where having a belt on the bench press can help.

I found foot position to be a little tricky.  I haven’t quite found the right position for them when I bench press.

Tight glutes

Tight abs

Big arch

Tight shoulder blades and traps

Lift off..

I was trying to nail the routine down in my head.    If you can’t already tell, I’m very methodical with stuff like this.

I keep thinking about what Ed Coan said on Mark’s Podcast about  making the warm up sets looks like the PR sets.  Everything remains the same.

That shit is harder than it sounds.

Because of this I started training all the lifts 5 days a week.  3 of the days are heavier days and 2 of the day are very light.  Mainly just to get a lifting routine down.

Sink and Press

When the bar makes contact with your chest you let the weight sink in a bit and then explode after a pause.  When the bar sinks in, the head comes up off the bench slightly, but immediately back down during the pressing movement.

I’m not exactly sure what the rules are but during my workout sessions with pause bench I felt like that I could let the bar make contact with my chest and then continue sinking into my chest which can help get a little stretch reflex when the lift command is shouted by the judge.

I was able to 225lbs pause bench for 5 reps.  Felt much easier.

Wide Grip Bench

“You’re elbows won’t all of sudden forget to lock out.”

That’s what Dan Green said.  It made hella sense to me. Its more difficult to lockout when you have wide grip on the bench press.  This will allow for better training.  It seemed to make more sense than just doing floor presses.

His philosophy with wide grip bench for training was to stick with high reps.  Well above 5.  I believe he said 8 to 12 reps for wide grip bench press.  Pause at the chest and increase the pause with each rep to build confidence.  You’re not suppose to go heavy on wide grip bench.

Wide grip bench has a smaller window of error, that’s the main reason why you don’t want to lift too heavy.

In my notes I wrote “Form practice” which was mainly a note to myself.  Then I wrote “forceful start with consistent groove.” I’m not sure if that was me writing it down as a note or if he said that.

Either way it makes sense and sounds good.

A few months ago I bench pressed 5 days a week and remember how strong I got.  I was able to bench press 3 sets of 5 reps with 275lbs.  When I had my bench press session the morning before the seminar at work, I was starting to think that was just a false memory.  I’m starting to think the weights at home are different than the ones at work.

But thinking back, think it was really my grip width.  I grip wider at home than at the gym because of knurling on the bar.  And for this blog post, I rewatch that 275 for 5 reps video and saw that I was wider.  That could be what it is.  Wider is better. For me anyhow.

Thanks for reading.  I’ll post about my notes on the deadlift next.  Sign up for updates or just check back in a few days.

Dan Green on How to Squat more weight – What I learned Boss Barbell

Dan Green on Squatting – my interpenetration

This part 2 of my blog post on what I learned at Boss Barbell, my previous post was about Dan green’s take on program design for powerlifters.

“Wedge yourself against the bar…”

This was reinforced during his talk as he mention in Mark Bell’s podcast of how he sets up for a heavy low bar squat.  He said it’s similar to the way Sam Bird sets up.  I found this video of Eric Lilliebridige and Sam squatting together. You can see the way he sets up as it is similar to the way I’ve seen Dan Green set up for his squats.

Sam Byrd setting up for the squat video starts at 2:31 mark. Watch this one rep and how he sets up for a 700lbs squat.

In hindsight it’s pretty obvious, but the one thing I was lacking when it came to making progress in my squats was my set up.    I was simply not spending enough time setting up and preparing myself properly to squat heavy weights.

“if you move you can move your arms [after setting up] you’re not tight as possible.”

This is was a a kind of a “ah-ha” moment where the light bulb went off.  Dan Green said that if he were to move his arms after setting up his arms would cramp big time.

I connected this to what he said on his interview with Mark Bell where he said [paraphrase]

“it won’t be comfortable, but it will be secure.”

In my own training, these were the biggest takeaways for me.

Front Squats

I got a few minutes to have Dan Green coach me in front of 250 people.  I did 2 sets of 5 reps as he observed my movement.  The biggest mistake that I was making in front squatting was losing my upper back tightness.

The main cue I’ve heard and have been taught when it comes to front squatting was the phrase “keep your elbows up.”  As simple as that sounded,  that didn’t work for me to get me to perform the movement well.

As he was coaching me, he mentioned that I was letting my hips go to far back as I tried to get out of the hole.  He suggested that I stay tight in the upper back and lead with my chest when I go back up.

The way I interpenetrated in my own training was to re-tighten thoracic extension after getting to the bottom .

Another thing he mentioned that helped me a lot was a mention about the shoulder blades on shoulder retraction.  In that, there really shouldn’t be any, if you have shoulder retraction you won’t have the “shelf” to hold the barbell.

To some this may be obvious, to me it wasn’t.

I think in the mind of many people, thoracic extension goes hand in hand with scapula retraction, but not in the case of the front rack for the front squat.

A really great way to train for the front squat was to do partial reps.  This provides the correct feedback for how you should perform the movement.

In my mind and in my view, it will keep the bar path in the correct  line.

Of course these are basically the same thing, but sometimes people need a certain “cue” that will get them to stay in the right position.

My next post will be about Bench Press.

View my original notes I took on my ipad.