Today’s post is primarily for my meathead readers out there (I say that as a term of endearment, as I am one of you), and to anyone else out there who is interested in becoming better at the bench press.
Truth be told, this is a great strength exercise with a ton of carry over for most trainees but is often performed less than ideally by the average gym goer.
Often times I look over to see someone on the bench press flailing around like a fish out of water trying to move the bar up, only to then hear either themselves or their “spotter” yell out the inevitable, “One more rep,” or even better “It’s all you man,” while said spotter is essentially lifting 50% or more of the weight. Who knew the Bench Press was a team exercise?
If you are experiencing pain through a movement and the problem lies deeper than just using proper technique, please, please, please see a qualified professional (no, your personal trainer/strength coach is not one of them, nor am I).
4 Tips for a Better, Safer and Stronger Bench Press:
1.) Plant Your Feet: To often I see people’s feet dancing around all over the place between each rep of the bench press like they were doing their best Fred Astaire impression.
While I’m sure we can all understand that moving your feet around is unnecessary movement which can take away from your lift, often times we don’t put much thought into where we should place our feet.
When we just put them down haphazardly with little to no intention, and no real pressure helping to ground us, we will often end up moving them around. This is no good.
When we’re benching, we want the most stable platform we can have to press from, and by planting those feet into the ground you’re doing just that.
As you get even better with the Bench Press, you can start to really experiment with Leg drive to help get you even stronger, but for now just remember, this isn’t Happy Feet.
Likewise, as you begin to pull the bar to your chest, think about pushing your chest/sternum up to try to meet the bar halfway.
As you get to that point where the bar and your chest meet, you should find that it’s almost difficult to get to the bottom. That’s a good thing! It means that you’re ready to explode up with that barbell and will help to keep you strong through the place which you may normally feel you get stuck during the lift.
Look we all know that the goal of the bench press is to lift the bar, but external cues like this one, often allow for the client to really understand where the force should be applied. It often times helps to keep them tighter throughout the exercise and more stable. It’s a small mental trick, but often times that small shift in mentality really makes a huge difference.
You want to make everything the same from your first rep onward. That means you should pull the bar to your chest exactly the same way, the barbell should touch your chest in the same place every time, and that you should press the bar up exactly the same and finish in the same place after every rep.