You want to build a big and strong chest? Well you should not remove bench press out of your weightlifting program. Bench press is recommended if you want to build serious mass in your upper-body specially the chest and the triceps.
Before anything else you should learn how to bench press correctly with proper form and proper technique. Here’s the video I made to guide you how to bench press and get the most out of your bench press reps.
Stretch – No question. Stretching is mandatory when doing any kind of exercise. What I have in the video is the kind of stretch you want to prepare your shoulders for a bench press position.
Grip Position – Sometimes when your grip is not in the right position the weight will give pressure to your wrist instead of your chest. This leads to wrist injury and your reps will be affected. Grip is probably the thing you don’t want to lose while lifting weights.
Reverse Roll Set-up – We all have trouble positioning ourselves when doing bench press. This tip will get you more comfortable position.
Shoulder Slam – To give you a nice and firm position after the reverse roll set-up.
Use your Lats – To help you maintain the balance while unracking the barbell.
Leg Drive – This might be a little difficult for beginners. It takes time to practice. This will help you drive your upper-back into the bench so you can lift the weight much easier.
Grip Width – Just find what’s comfortable for your shoulder. The wider your grip width the wider you target your chest but it will cause more stress to your shoulders.
I hope you enjoyed this video and stay tuned for more upcoming tips.
This stretch for the bench press will help improve your mobility so that you can bring the bar to your chest without pain in your shoulder. It helps improve shoulder extension so that you keep your shoulder blades tight at the bottom of the bench. I have a “how bench press” series on my youtube channel.
Bench pressing with leg drive takes time to learn. If you want to learn how to bench press correctly with leg drive, this bench press tip will help you get a feel for it. I first saw it on an omar isuf video, but I also saw Dave Tate teach it.
This is one video of a 9 part bench press tips video series on how to bench press more weight correctly. Be sure to check out my youtube channel and subscribe.
How to bench press using lats by using the lat slide out technique. This bench press tip will help you bench more quickly. The idea is to use your lats to slide the bar out of the rack. This engages your latissimus dori which not only helps keep your shoulder tight, but also keeps your entire body tight. Great for powerlifting, even better for bodybuilding when you want to load the muscle.
Your weakness could be all in your head. The weakest link in your squat, bench, deadlift, snatch, clean and jerk is all in your head.
What’s weak in your bench press? Maybe, probably triceps
What’s weak in your your squats? Maybe, probably your glutes, or your core.
What’s weak in your deadlift? Your low back or hamstrings.
What about your snatch or clean and jerk? Okay, I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on the olympic lifts, but much of what I talk about in this blurb will be about getting a global understanding of what you’re body is suppose to do optimally. Much of what I’ve learned about human movement comes from Kelly Starrett and the mobility wod as well as a combination of various high level strength athletes. Combine youtube / podcast university with 10+ years coaching regular people as well being a “broken leopard” you’ve got unique perspective from an ungifted athlete coach.
One of the major “gems” of information that set me to write about this comes from what I heard on the Mark Bell’s Powercast with Max Aita. About their discussion about Dmitry Klokov and how the russians train. Here’s a link to the podcast, and it starts at the 44:50 mark.
Dan Green was mentioned about his coaching. About how he doesn’t say much, but when he does, it makes so much sense. Simple stuff that hits you like a ton of bricks (paraphrasing what Max Aita said).
I went to Boss Barbell in Mountain View and had the opportunity to listen to his seminar (here are my notes). But recalling back to his manner of speaking and coaching style its interesting how all the dots started to connect in my mind. In a way, much of what he said in his seminar was about his overall view on program design for getting stronger and when he brought up the idea of your “technical max,” the idea connected with what Max Aita said in Mark bell’s Powercast.
So lets talk about technical max. When does your technique begin to break down? When do your squats, bench, deadlifts, power cleans, clean/jerk and snatches begin to falter? Like when your squats start to look like good mornings or when your back begins to round too much in the deadlift.
When your technique beings to break down, there is a weakness that expresses itself in your movement.
What is wrong with the way you’re moving? When you make a movement error you are expressing a weakness. Keep in mind, that doesn’t mean you don’t make the lift or you’re incapable getting stronger without giving it direct attention, it just means you’re leaving some power/strength/leverage on the table by not clearing up the movement fault.
The movement fault is a bottleneck. I learned this term from Gray Cook, it was such a big “ah-ha” moment for me when Kstar’s mobility wod and Cook talked about the idea on this video.
A movement is a pattern. Performing a pattern like a bench press or squat has a specific loading pattern that will provide optimal positioning and leverage (this varies by individual). This is technique. Sorry if this sounds vague, but bare with me.
One of the things I’m trying to work on in myself is an asymmetrical weight shift. I know this is one of major reasons in why I have knee pain in my left knee from time to time. Although I’m right handed, left leg and glute/hip complex is significantly stronger than my right. One way I know this is the case is that when I’m in the bottom of my squat for a pause with 80% or more of my 1RM, I can feel my left leg initiate the drive out of the hole.
What causes this? I’m missing range of motion in my RIGHT SIDE: hip and ankle. This is one of my bottlenecks that’s preventing me from getting stronger in my squat safely.
So what’s weak? Most likely and definitely my right glute. But the real question is what do I work on? Squatting without shifting is what really comes to mind.
What you lack in technique you can make up in strength (to a certain degree).
I really big part about getting really strong is to stay healthy. This means, to stay injury free. When your body isn’t able to go through full range of motion effectively, there is likelihood that poor mechanics will lead to a tweak.
Have good shoulder external rotation and wrist extension are factors in doing this. In this video I go over a mobility drill I learned from World Record Holder in the squat, Donnie Thompson on the Mobility Wod.
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.
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 shoulder blades and traps
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.