Everybody benches. It doesn’t matter sport you play or what goal you’re chasing in the weight room, everyone wants to bench MORE! Who hasn’t been asked “Whaddya Bench?” Here are 3 tips that will help you move more weight instantly!
Turn Your Body Into A Jack
- Imagine a jack used to leverage a flat tire off the ground. Like that jack, your setup should be designed to get your body into the strongest position possible. This position is the arch – also known as on of the strongest architectural designs…good enough to have the Coliseum still standing in Rome! If you’re benching with a flat back – or worse, with your feet on the bench – you’re leaving pounds off the bar.
This means feet on the floor – NEVER on the bench or in the air! The bench press is a total body move and most people don’t know how to use their whole body to move massive weights.
You should learn to belly breathe, pulling air into your belly, not your chest cavity.
Belly breathing and has been covered in a previous post (HERE)…so here’s a BRIEF checklist of the setup:
- Feet on the floor pulled more towards your but than you’re used to.
- Using the upright supports, push your body away from the bar to build your arch – make sure to keep your feet in place. (YES, this is uncomfortable. If you’re comfortable, you’re not doing it right! If your back cramps, you’re doing it right.)
- Grab the bar and squeeze it as hard as you can – try to put finger indentions in the bar where you squeeze it.
- Keep the wrists straight – knuckles to the ceiling (not toward your face).
- Flex your glutes and squeeze the bench with your knees and press your feet into and through the floor.
- Take a deep breathe into your belly and GO!
- Do not lose this tightness until your set is over.
“Pack” Your Shoulders
- Again, this is all about total body tightness, and creating a solid base from which to press. It’s also about shoulder health and safety.
- Retract your shoulder blades by pulling them down and back – as if you were trying to slide them into your back pocket.
- Keeping the shoulder blades pinched together extend your arms out in front of face.
- You should notice 2 things immediately: 1) A shorter distance to press the bar 2) A much tighter, more compact and stronger torso. --> Both of these help you lift more weight.
- You can’t build a skyscraper on a marsh. Similarly, you can’t move big weights if your body is mush…learning to get tight tight and perfecting your setup are CRUCIAL to adding weight to the bar!
Load Up During The Negative Phase
Many peopl tend to drop the bar in a free-fall motion during the descent and then try to catch it and quickly reverse the bar’s direction. This is a HUGE no-no!
First of all, in doing this, you lose all that tightness we just created with your set up.
Secondly, you’re asking for injury – whether it’s a pec strain or tear, achy shoulders, or torn rotator cuff muscles, this is a very dangerous way to approach any lift.
Imagine a spring is resting between your chest and the bar. When you lower the bar to your chest, you actually have to PULL the bar down, thinking about bending the bar around your body and compressing that spring. Or you can think about bending the bar around your body. Hold your arch and your breath, keeping your chest UP. Once the bar reaches the bottom, you explode up and out of the hole as the spring uncoils.