5 Tips for a Bigger Bench

Today was a ‘back-to-basics’ type of lifting day, and since I really wanted to hammer my chest and focus on mass-building, I kicked things off with some good ‘ol fashioned Bench Press. The Bench Press is a lift that only needs to be performed in specific situations – that is, if you’re trying to gain serious mass or strength and you really want/need to move some weight. However, if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it right. I’m by no means a bench press expert, but to hit my raw 450 pound personal best, I did have to learn a bit of technique. Here are five tips for a bigger Bench Press:

1. Develop your arch.

“If you want to lift at your max, you’re only kidding yourself if you don’t use some kind of body arch! An arch of the trunk reduces the distance that the bar travels, increases the potential contribution of the lats and lower pecs, and creates an arc in the lift, as opposed to being straight up.”

via Bodybuilding.com – Dr. Ian King – 15 Secrets To A Bigger Bench Press..

2. Shoulder Blades down, back, and still

The shoulder blades are a key point during a Bench Press. Most of the loading goes though this point. They need to be retracted, depressed, and still – they don’t move around! Think of them like a platform you’re pressing off of.

3. Feet on the ground

Seriously – keep your feet on the ground. This is where your power comes from. You might think putting your feet up on the bench looks cool, but it makes you weaker. You will get to the point where you can leverage the ground and literally push off of your feet, transferring some of that force into the lift.

4. Pull the Bar Apart

This has the effect of increasing triceps contribution – it’s about activating all the muscle you can if you want to squeeze out maximal weight.

5. Do a ‘mini pull-up’ right before your set

There’s been a lot of research showing that activating an antagonist (opposing) muscle group immediately before training an agonist (prime mover) makes the agonist stronger. You can activate the muscles in your back (these would be an opposing muscle group when performing the bench press) by doing a five second isometric contraction against the bar as you lay on the bench right before the set. Pull yourself up hard towards the bar and lift yourself up off of the bench. Then launch right into your set. You should be able to add about 5-15 pounds to your lift instantly.

There you have it! Five tips for a bigger Bench. This is by no means an complete list, mainly tips I have read about that have worked well for me, and in fact I would love some further input. Use them at your own risk!

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2 Responses to 5 Tips for a Bigger Bench

  1. Philippe Til says:

    Awesome tips. I was just discussing that with Pavel on the plane!

  2. Forest says:

    Thanks. I remember when I really used to be into benching that these few things helped me immensely.

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