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Technical Bench Press Tips


Powerlifting Bench Press Techniques

The best way to make huge gains in your bench press in a short amount of time is to improve your form. Many of the techniques listed below have helped me to increase my bench press by almost 100 pounds in a very short amount of time. Please keep in mind that sometimes a change in bench press technique can have a negative effect on your bench initially. So it is not recommended that anyone try these techniques for the first time at a powerlifting meet. Find a couple of fine tuning techniques that work for you at the gym and begin implimenting them in preparation for the next meet. Be sure to practice them until you have mastered them.

CLOSING THE GAP

Being 6'4", I found that I was at a great disadvantage at most powerlifting meets. Especially in the SHW division, where some competitors are well under 6 foot tall and have short arms and huge chests. Here are a few tips for "Closing the Gap" in any division.

  1. THE ARCH- A good back arch is essential to many lifters. The key is to move your butt as close to your shoulders as possible without bringing either off of the bench. You want most of the arch to come in you upper back not your lower back. This will do three things for you. First, it will transfer the weight from your delts to the lower pecs. This reduces the risk of injuring you shoulders. NOTE: If you are putting too much strain on you lower back, don't do it. You will also notice that if you have a good arch you will be bringing the bar down just below your pecs. This makes the bench more like a decline bench where most people have more power. Finally, you will be reducing the distance that the bar will travel during you bench press.
  2. THE SHOULDER TUCK- Many powerlifters do not realize how much energy is wasted by allowing the bar to travel further than they have to. Next time you get on the bench at the gym, notice how far the bar is traveling. Then get yourself set, pull your shoulders back as far as you can, and take the weight off the rack. Try to pull your shoulders back a little bit further and keep them back as you lower and press the weight. With this method, I have taken as much as 4 inches off of my bench while creating a solid base below my shoulders.
  3. GRIP- I am a firm believer in trying new grips from time to time. The grip can change so many factors in your bench press. You do not want to change your grip just to close the gap, but sometimes a slightly wider grip is just what the doctor ordered to cheat an extra few pounds out of your bench. Do not assume that just because you lose power when your grip gets TOO wide that you can't try it in a bench shirt. If you find that you gain power toward the top of the lift with a wider grip, try it with your bench shirt on. The shirt will become tighter at the bottom due to the excess stretch from the wide grip. This will compensate for the weakness at the bottom. Then you will gain power as the bar travels upward. Finally, you have closed the gap a couple more inches.

INCORPORATING THE TRICEPS

So many people try to muscle the bench press using nothing but pecs and shoulders. The bench press is not just about pushing the bar. Think about the dynamics of the powerlifting bench press. Your pectorial muscles and your delts are pulling the upper arm inward, but your hands are in a fixed position. Therefore your arms go from a bent postion at the bottom of the lift to a straight or locked position at the top of the lift. Anyone who has ever picked up a weight in their life knows that the tricep is integral in straightening the arm from a bent position. How often do you think about your triceps during your bench? Are the ever sore after a good bench press workout? They should be.

Here is how I learned to incorporate my triceps during my bench press workout and at competitions. When you get set to do your bench press, grip the bar as tight as you can. You might want to chalk up before you try this. Now bring the bar down in a controlled manner. As you begin to push the weight up, be aware of your arm position. Just as the elbows begin to reach the level of you shoulders, pull or push as if you were trying to snap the bar into two pieces. If you have a narrow grip you will actually be pulling out on the bar as you push. This will force you elbows to come in under your hands and lock out the lift. If your grip is wide, you will be pushing out on the bar with your triceps and you push up with your pecs and delts forcing your shoulder, elbow and wrist to come into line to force a lockout.

This does take a lot of practice, but when you get the timing down its amazing. You'll feel a fluid transition where your pecs and delts will get the bar moving and your triceps will jump in like a force of specially trained backup troops to help your put the bar through the roof.

If you have some bench tips of your own, please feel free to send them to e-normous. If we like them, we'll add them to the site.

 

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