4 Tips To Help You Up Your Bench Press Numbers
The bench press…also knowns as the ‘Ferrari’ of compound lifts.
The bench press, historically, has been the one lift everyone wants to do and everyone wants to talk about (hence your gym’s multiple bench press machines). The bench press is great way to test one’s upper-body and core strength and it has many practical applications in everyday life.
Do you remember your first days in a gym when you were a rookie? The bench press was the one big lift you could do without looking totally inept and out of place, unlike the challenge of squats and deadlifts.
So because we’re all benching and we’re all likely going to be drawn into a conversation about ‘how much can you bench?’ we may as well learn ways to maximize our lifts on the infamous bench.
Here are some suggestions for you:
1. Leg drive
Admittedly, this may seem like an odd place to begin on a bench press blog. But having stability throughout your legs and a firmly rooted foot is essential in a strong lift, especially when you’re at the end of a set and you’re trying desperately to sneak out an extra rep.
When the bar is lowered, keep yourself firmly planted in your feet with some tension throughout the legs. When the bar touches your chest and is about to be pushed upwards, start from your feet and drive that tension throughout your upper back, chest and triceps. This doesn’t mean to turn your body into a stiff skeleton: just be aware of where your power is being generated from.
2. Remember symmetry
If you don’t want to be included in one of those ‘gym fail’ montages on YouTube, don’t let yourself become unsymmetrical. Every movement in the gym is, more or less, a movement that expresses human symmetry. On the bench press, for example, your feet should be an even distance from the bench, your hands should grip at a symmetrical distance from the centre of the bar, and when you lower the weight, your elbows, wrists, shoulders and the bar should all be in a line.
3. Forget the chest …just for a second
Okay, forgetting the chest in order to build up better bench press numbers sounds counterintuitive. But let’s not forget that the bench press is a compound lift and that means we’re engaging a multitude of muscles in order to raise that bar from our chest.
Make sure you’re working on your triceps – barbell triceps extensions, close-grip bench press, triceps pull-down – and your upper back – rows, pull-ups – in order to heave the most weight on your bench press.
4. Know your weaknesses
Let’s make this really simple:
Can’t get the bar off your chest? It’s likely your chest is weak.
Having trouble locking out the bar? You need to work on your triceps
Does the bar inch off your chest and stall? Your lats need some love.
Having the insight to see where you’re weakest will make you the strongest in the long run. Don’t let your ego get in the way of your progress.