Four Tips to Supercharge Your Bench Press
If there is ONE exercise that needs no introduction
It’s the BENCH PRESS
Long been hailed as the KING for Upper body Strength development
It is arguably one of the BEST all round Upper Body exercises
Not only do you work your Pectorals (Chest)…..
You also work your Anterior Deltoids (Front of Shoulders)
Triceps Brachii (Back of upper arms)
Latissimus Dorsi (Wing-like muscles on back)
Trapezius & Rhomboids (Upper & Mid Back muscles), Forearms….
And Pretty much every muscle in your upper body (the list goes on)
But……the BENCH PRESS doesn’t just use the upper body
While it does place an emphasis on upper muscle groups
YOU WANT to engage the Lower body as well
Making it a FULL BODY MOVEMENT
So today I want to go over FOUR WAYS on
HOW TO set up for BENCH PRESS properly
Through teaching you how to maintain GLOBAL TENSION
Which will ultimately help SUPERCHARGE your Bench Press to the next level
So in the near future, next time someone asks you:
HOW MUCH DO YOU BENCH?
You will be able to start answering more confidently:
“More than You”
And maybe with a little cheeky ‘Pec Dance’ to go along with it
So let’s get into this pressing matter right away
By kicking it off with number ONE
1. Plant, Drive & Squeeze
Okay so the Bench looks simple enough
‘Lie on a bench with feet on the ground, unrack the bar & lower to the chest & press back up’
Well, not quite…….
Especially If you want to bench press properly & shift some serious weight!
You see it all starts from the floor……
This is where you create a solid base that helps your generate force from the ground up!
And this is where focusing on the lower body begins……..
Remember these key principles & you are off to a solid start:
- PLANT your FEET into the floor & dig them in hard
* Your shins should be vertical to underneath you
- DRIVE your knees out to the sides
- SQUEEZE your Glutes A.K.A Butt cheeks
*like you are trying to pinch a $100 note
So rather than just relying on the upper body to do all the work
Think of your Whole Body as ONE SINGLE UNIT rather than specific muscle groups
That way when you go to Bench
The lower body doesn’t just limp around on the floor like a fish out of water
And you become more of a Jedi Bench Master
Using ‘The Force’ you produce from PLANT, DRIVE & SQUEEZE
Leading you to press more weight
So you can ‘Press to Impress’
Because you know…..
You have to be boss at an exercise that has gained International recognition
In having its own dedicated day ie. Monday
Which makes me wonder why Mondays are not most people’s favourite day?
I mean it’s Bench Day! *Insert First pumping
Although It may not be the weekend
And be the start of working weekdays for most people
I believe it should be the start of what I call strongdays (not week/weakdays)
See what I did there 🙂
Yeah you read that right
Anyway before I get carried away onto the next point…
2.Grip it Real Good
You lower body is tight in position
Tighter than spandex would be on Honey Boo Boo
Now it’s time time grip that bar!
Use what is called a BULLDOG GRIP
Simply by rotating your hands in when you go to grip the bar
All you have to do is imagine how a Bulldog plants his paws..
Following the two pictures below with Super Coach Jackie demonstrating
Grip the bar with your thumbs & index fingers first
Then from there rotate your hands in
So that your thumbs point to the ground
That bar should now rest diagonally in your hands
Between the base of your thumbs & palms (hopefully not sweaty)
Then SQUEEZE those fingertips around the bar & lock it into place
Doing this badass grip allows you to drive force directly into the bar
As it creates a straight line from bar to wrists to forearms to elbows
It also fixes a common fault I see often which is bent wrists
Bent wrists + bench press = Wrist Pain + weaker bench press
^^^^^^^^^^This is what you want to avoid ^^^^^^^^
Now it starts getting serious!
- RIP The barbell apart!
Think about trying to BEND the barbell in half upwards towards the sky
Or think of it of an annoying overhanging big tree branch you want to snap in half!
This action of trying to rip the bar activates & tenses the LATS (wing-like muscles in back)
And your REAR DELTS (back of shoulders)
Which allows you to take the next step
Which is PINCH your Shoulder Blades together
This helps immensely to tighten up your position
And TIGHTNESS is everything for a heavy bench!
It also protects the shoulders from injury
Which is a common occurrence from incorrect benching technique
So when SQUEEZING those shoulder blades
Do it as if you were trying to hold a pencil between them
^Supercoach Jackie gives an excellent demonstration^
Great now think of ROWING your shoulder blades back & SCREWING them into the bench!
And raise your CHEST UP & EXPAND your ribcage
Creating a slight arch in your back
So that I could slide my hand between your lower back & bench
All of this will lock the shoulders into the bench
And will save your shoulders
Which brings me to another point
Make sure your bum doesn’t leave the bench!
It should be clenched while keeping those feet planted & knees driven out
This makes up part of what I call the ‘FIVE POINTS OF CONTACT’
Head, Shoulders & Butt (3) should be in contact with the bench at all times
Each foot (2) should be planted into the floor
Abide these and….
You are now in position to lower the bar that is SAFER & more EFFECTIVE
Almost ready to go….
But one more important step before you get too excited
4.Inhale & Brace the Abs
Pay attention to this one
It will serve you well & can easily help you bench more
Now I want you to imagine you are newfound superhero
One of your super powers you discovered is to be able to suck up all the air out of the room
Simply by breathing it all in
Let’s call you Captain Vacuum……
Because all superheroes have a corny name of some sort
Okay, so now you decide to attempt a Bench Press testing this power
Wearing your undies on the outside of your clothes
As you do when a classy superhero
You get in that super tight position
Applying all that you have hopefully read
You then proceed to absorb all the air in the room
Simply by inhaling as much air as you can through your nostrils
And if breathing effectively…..
Making your belly rise
Like you just polished off an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet!
You also BRACE your abdominals like you are about to be punched in the stomach
Then using that hold super deep breathe & bracing of the abs
You attempt your first rep
Lowering that bar under complete superhero control
Then using all that stored energy
You explode the bar off your chest with ease
Like you are Thor when he picks up his hammer & no one else can
As silly as it sounds
You should actually be trying to do this every time you bench
Or even the other big compound movements such as the Squat or Deadlift
Don’t be that person who takes a shallow chest breath & hopes for the best
To apply effective breathing & bracing of the abdominals
It all comes down using the DIAPHRAGM effectively
If you are breathing in properly you are using your diaphragm..
What you should notice is your belly will begin to rise
Like pumping up a bike tyre….
And by filling up the lungs using your diaphragm
You can effectively BRACE & create what is known as
Which helps facilitate FORCE production
And…. CONNECTS the Upper & Lower halves of the body
Making the Bench a FULL BODY MOVEMENT
Meaning BIGGER Bench
To test yourself to see if you are breathing deep enough & effectively bracing the abs
Try the following superhero method below
Captain Vacuum’s Training
- Lie on your back with your knees bent & flat on the floor
- Place hands on sides of stomach/ribs.
- Create a neutral spine
- Inhale using your nose, while feeding pressure into the floor & out to the sides (should feel it with your hands)
- After fully inhaling, take one last gulp of air with your mouth
- Now exert pressure in a full 360 degree fashion – expanding all directions
Can I Bench now?
You sure can
By MAXIMISING all of the above Four ways
YOU WILL be able to ADD MORE weight to the bar
Be equipped with the ammunition needed to blast through plateaus
And as a bonus!
Help lay the foundation needed to transfer to other badass compound movements (tightness, breathing, bracing)
Remember the Bench Press is like Life
If you don’t push the weight it will fall on you
So hopefully now you can push some more weight
Give it a go & let me know how you go
Or to find out more on how to get more out of your training
Dave ‘Don’t Stress Bench Press’ Buck