The bench press, while looking quite simple, is actually a pretty technical lift. There are a lot of moving (and not moving) parts to this lift that require attention if we are going to perform this lift optimally.
While you could write an entire book on the bench press, I’m not going to bore you with that today. Instead, I’m going to share 3 simple tips on how to be more successful with your bench press.
- USE YOUR LEGS
Huh? Legs in an upper body workout? Yes. LOTS of legs.
When you’re setting up for the bench press, make sure that your feet can be flat on the floor (we want the FULL foot making contact here). With your feet flat on the floor, push into the floor with your legs. This is going to cause your upper back to press into the bench as well, which will give you a more stable position to press from. More stability = more ability to express power.
2. Perpendicular Forearms – Fix your grip width!
Too often I see people bench pressing with their hands to close, or too wide. There’s a bit of elbow manipulation and path that can happen so you *can* bench with a narrow or a wide grip and still have an effective press, but for now, I want you focusing on a grip that will have your forearms perpendicular to the ground whenever the bar is at your chest. If your forearms are angled in (towards your ribcage), your shoulders are internally rotating and you are losing pressing power. If your forearms are angled out (towards the weights), your shoulders are not in a stable position.
If your forearms are perpendicular to the ground, you’ll see your elbows traveling at a 45* angle from your body, which will put your shoulders in a perfect pressing position for a better bench press.
3. Welcome to Tempo Town – Slow Down, Fast Up
You ever seen a guy (or gal) bouncing a barbell off of their chest? Yeah, don’t do that.
Besides the inherent danger of bruising your sternum, violently loading your shoulders, and a lack of bar path control, it’s simply not an effective way to press for better power, health, and longevity.
If you truly want to have a better bench press, and build muscle and power, slow it down. Treat every bench press session like it’s a tempo bench press session. Control the bar down to the chest, make controlled contact, and then press the bar aggressively. You’ve probably heard this as “slow down, fast up” in classes at Yellow Rose. We’re trying to help you build a better bench, squat, deadlift, strict press, pull up…. anything! Tempo town is here to help you make the progress you want!
Using your legs, fixing your grip, and treating each bench session with an emphasis on tempo will lead to more stable, stronger, and more confident bench presses.
See you in the gym!