Having a good bench press lift is mandatory in most sports today. It is a pecking order in the gym to know how much you bench press. The first question that most athletes will ask you is how much you bench. The average non-lifter asks the same question that is more common to hear, “How much do you bench?”
Having a good bench has always been important to powerlifters who like to ring up the big totals. Most bodybuilders can take it or leave it and care more about the ability to move moderate pounds more reps. Football, basketball, hockey, and other athletes are quickly realizing the benefits of a good strong bench press.
So how to get a good bench press? Why is it that some guys and girls seem to move heavier loads with little to no effort? The bench press technique is the first thing to come to mind and it is something that will be outlined here.
Bench Press & Bar Placement
This has to do with your position on the bench and under the bar.
- When you lie down, place your feet on the bench and raise your pelvis very high, this allows you to put the most of your weight on the base of your neck and the top of your shoulders.
- Once you have your neck pressed against the bench, maintain the shoulder contact, and lower your butt to the bench, also maintain a high arch in your back. The more you arch the more torque you will be able to deliver to the bar. Most neck strain occurs when the neck is lifting off the bench, so keep it tight against the pad.
- Grip the bar with a closed grip. Hooking the bar (not using your thumb) leaves your forearm loose and then your elbow and also your shoulder. It leads to injuries in most cases.
- Grip the bar in such a place, when the bar is touching your chest, then your forearms are straight up and down. If you do not perform this position, you will quickly lose force and it will travel away from the movement of the ba
- Make sure your feet are in such a position that it allows you to push with your toes to drive your own bodyweight towards your head. Place large pads under your feet to raise the floor height to your desired position. Taller athletes usually need taller benches.
- Shrug your shoulders up and in to provide maximum contact with the bench. Having your shoulders hang off the edge of the bench makes it difficult to push off of the bench to the bar. Make sure your shoulders are solid to provide the maximum ability to push.
- Get a good spotter or two or three. Having a safe lifting environment will make you more likely to move the heavyweight. Don’t be afraid to allow your spotter to “ride” the bar. That means they keep their hands on the bar, without actually lifting the bar.
- Breathing is another key factor. Inhaling at the top of the movement and then exhale only after you have pressed the bar at least three-quarters of the movement up. Inhale again at the top and begin the movement again.
It may seem simple, but the average powerlifter takes more time to get set on the bench than the actual required lifting time. Get into position, get tight to the bench and arch up strong. Push with your toes and that will tighten everything up from your feet to your head.
Bench Press Tips
- Lower the bar to the bottom of your chest, along your nipple line.
- As you bench try to maintain a 45-degree angle of your upper arm to your torso. This means don’t allow your arms to “Fly.” This refers to their leaving a 45-degree angle to your upper torso. Commonly, if you reverse your grip on the bar and then lower it to your chest, the natural movement of the arms is the correct movement.
- Do not waste a lot of energy performing a lot of sets and reps trying to get warmed up when attempting to reach a maximum lift. Lifting too much weight too quickly can hurt you, but if you lift lighter weight for more reps and then allow the reps to fall off quickly, then your muscles will maintain their energy stores.
- Do not wear out your chest before you get to that heavyweight. Do your reps after your heavy lifting. This also allows for the stimulation of the maximum amounts of fiber in your chest. Choose 5-6 sets per heavy lifting bench day.
- Choose a bench that allows your feet to reach the floor. Some benches are just too high for a lifter of shorter stature.
Maybe you do not want to bench the 1000 pounds that is so commonly being pressed at competitions today, but using some of these techniques will result in a new personal best. We all enjoy a good bench and getting your form down, not only allows you to move more weight but allows you to do it safer.