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.