Improving the bench
press is ALWAYS at the top of almost every lifter's
list of goals. Put these 10 tips into practice
and power up your bench press fast!
flat barbell bench press...the lift that everyone
wants to know how much you can do when they find
out you train. So you want to get your numbers
moving in the right direction again? These 10
quick tips will make a difference in your strength
and boost your bench FAST.
in mind, these tips are coming from someone who
has almost NO genetic gifts as far as bench press
is concerned (bad shoulders, long arms). It's
among my weakest lifts and I have to struggle
for every single pound I add onto it. Yet with
those limitations, using the tips I'll share with
you below, I've managed to work up to a maximum
single at 350 lbs. So it CAN be done!
1. Work Your Rotator Cuff Muscles
this is completely unglamorous but it has the
potential to add 20 to 30 pounds to your bench
press in a matter of weeks. The reason? The Rotator
Cuff muscles are the four small muscles that stabilize
the humerus (your upper arm bone) in the shoulder
people rarely, if EVER, work the Rotator Cuff
but a couple of sets at the end of each workout
can really make a HUGE difference in your bench
press by helping to stabilize the shoulder joint.
exercise that I use is one I call the "3
In 1 Rotator Cuff Raise." It's an exercise
I came up with to work all 3 major planes of movement
that the Rotator Cuff muscles operate in in one
basic movement. It's very effective and very time-efficient.
Two sets of 8 reps of this at the end of each
workout is all you need.
is a quick rundown of the 3-in-1 Rotator
Cuff Raise exercise.
in a standing position with your
upper arm vertical, your forearm
crossed in front horizontally
and your shoulder internally rotated.
will be holding the dumbell in
front of your abdomen.
is similar to the start position
of what is called the Lying "L"
Raise (a common rotator cuff exercise)
where you lying on your side on
a bench. In this exercise you
are in a standing position.
this entire movement, your should
keep a constant 90 degree bend
in your elbow.
rotate and abduct your shoulder
(raise your upper arm up and to
the side while bringing the dumbell
up and back).
this is that while you raise your
upper arm to a horizontal position,
raise your forearm to a vertical
you grip the bar can make or break your bench
press before you even do a single rep. If you
grip the bar in too close, you're putting more
stress on the triceps, which limits your pushing
power and increases the distance you have to press
the bar. If you grip the bar too wide, you do
decrease the distance the bar travels but you
put excessive stress on the shoulder joints.
what is the best place to grip the bar? This is
best determined with no weight on the bar at all
and with somebody watching your form. Lie down
and take the bar off the rack and lower the bar
to your chest. Have your spotter eyeball your
forearms. At the bottom of the press, your forearms
should be perfectly vertical. THAT will give you
the greatest pressing power as you won't lose
any power inside or outside.
the same concept as throwing a punch - if the
bones of the arm aren't lined up properly when
it connects, you lose a lot of power at impact.
3. Learn How to Breathe Properly
you're doing a heavy press, trunk stabilization
is much more important than when you're doing
lighter, higher-rep training. You need a strong,
solid base to push off of to really move the most
doing a heavy lift for only a few reps, breathe
in deeply on the way down, inflating your chest
as much as possible (this has the dual effect
of increasing the stability of your trunk AND
decreasing the distance the bar must travel, which
is a bonus!). But as you press the bar off your
chest don't immediately blow out all your air
in one big blow. That will destabilize the chest
and weaken the base you're pushing from.
of it this way...it would be like trying to do
a dumbell press on the Swiss Ball as somebody
is letting the air out of it FAST!
as you start to press the weight, blow your air
out through pursed lips. Basically, pretend you're
blowing up a really thick balloon. You want to
keep your breathing muscles in your rib cage absolutely
solid as they very slowly force the air out. This
keeps your trunk solid and stabilized as you press,
which is critical. The moment you lose that stability,
you lose the lift.
4. Don't Neglect Back Training
training is important to your bench press in 3
what I said about stability in the previous point?
Your back makes up a BIG portion of that base
that stabilizes your body. The wider the base,
the bigger the structure it can support (i.e.
more weight). A comparatively weak back will reduce
the amount of weight you can bench.
second point is thickness. The thicker your back,
the shorter the distance the bar has to travel
and the more weight you'll be able to lift. Look
at how thick the torsos of the best bench pressers
in the world are - they have huge barrel chests,
thick backs and relatively short arms - their
range of motion is probably about HALF of what
a "normal" person's range of motion
is with the bench press. The thicker your back,
the shorter the range of motion and the more weight
you'll be able to press.
third point is muscular balance. If you're constantly
doing pushing movements, your body will overdevelop
those pushing muscles, which will lead to unnatural
shortening and potential weakness. You MUST work
the back muscles to pull everything into proper
alignment. Walking around with your shoulders
hunched forward and your arms bouncing around
in front of you doesn't look cool - I can promise
5. Don't Forget to Press With Your
is VERY important to maximizing your bench
press strength on maximum lifts. When you
set your feet for benching, don't just place
them anywhere and let nature take its course.
Set your feet solidly on the ground and
bend your knees to about 80 degrees.
why...when you're at the bottom of the bench press,
driving with the legs can help you get that weight
moving. You can demonstrate this to yourself by
lying on the flat bench and setting your feet
on the ground. Now think of how you'd need to
set your feet if you wanted to use your feet/legs
to slide yourself up the bench. THAT is what you
do when you drive with your legs - you basically
try and use your legs to slide yourself up the
bench. But because the weight is holding you down,
that force goes to helping push the weight up.
leg drive is used at the bottom of the press to
get the weight moving and makes a HUGE difference
with getting big weights moving.
6. Get Those Shoulder Blades Squeezed
goes back to trunk stability. If you're not consciously
and religiously squeezing your shoulder blades
together when you set yourself up on the bench
press, you're instantly putting yourself at a
do this, lie down on the bench and grab the bar.
Lift your body up off the bench then try and touch
your shoulder blades together behind your back.
Get them tucked in as tight as possible. When
you set yourself back down, you'll find you're
not only more stable on the bench but your shoulders
are in a stronger pressing position AND your torso
is actually a little thicker (which means shorter
range of motion)!
7. Do Partial-Range Training to
Strengthen Your Connective Tissue
big thing that's often missing in the training
routine of a person looking to maximize strength
is a focus on connective tissue training. You
can build huge, strong muscles but the movement
is only as strong as the weakest link. If that
weakest link is connective tissue, best case is
it will limit the amount of weight you can lift.
Worst case, you'll snap your tendons when your
muscles move weights that your connective tissue
how do we strengthen connective tissue? That requires
VERY heavy weight, the kind that can only be used
with partial-range training like lockouts in the
building up your connective tissue specifically
for bench press, DEFINITELY work on rack lockouts
and static holds with monster weight.
are one of the most useful training tools you
can use with the bench press. There are two main
ways to go...working AGAINST the bands to increase
explosive power and working WITH band assistance
to move more weight and more closely mimic the
strength curve of the bench press (harder at the
bottom, easier at the top).
using the bands to work on explosive training,
you attach them to something solid on the floor
and then to the bar. You use a lighter weight
on the barbell for these. Then, when you lift,
you explode up as fast and as powerfully as you
can against the bands. The bands stretch as you
come up, slowing the bar so your muscles don't
have to. This teaches your muscles to fire at
a much faster rate.
other method is to use the bands for assistance
(called Reverse Band Bench Press). With this technique,
you attach the bands to the top of the rack and
to the bar below. As you lower the weight, the
bands stretch, making the bottom of the press
easier by removing some of the resistance. As
you press up, the bands lose tension, making you
press more of the weight yourself, which exactly
mimics the mechanics of the bench press.
of these techniques are great additions to your
bench press training routine.
Press and Decline Bench Press and Why We Use the
Power Rack For Bench Pressing
This demo shows
decline bench press using the bands suspended
above, assisting with the resistance. This combines
three of the tips from the article into one demo,
as you'll also see why you MUST use the rack when
lifting heavy on the bench.
of the best things about the decline bench press
is that you can use a bit more weight on it than
you can on the regular flat bench due to the change
in biomechanics and somewhat decreased range of
motion. Working with heavier weight is good in
two ways - mentally and physically. Mentally,
it helps prepare your mind for working with heavier
weight. Physically, it helps prepare your body
for handling heavier weight on the flat bench.
10. Do Your Bench Pressing in the
if you have access to a regular bench press station
at your gym, I HIGHLY recommend doing your bench
pressing in the rack. Why? Two reasons.
first is safety. You can easily set the rails
to just slightly below the bottom-most position
of your bench press. If you can't finish a rep,
you just set the bar on the rails, roll the bar
forward and slide yourself out from under it.
No harm done, no spotter necessary. You can't
do that on a regular bench press station!
second is the freedom to REALLY PUSH YOURSELF
without fear of dropping the weight and not being
able to get out from under the bar. When you're
in a regular free bench press station, there is
always that nagging fear that if you don't make
a lift, you're going to have the bar come down
you do your pressing in the rack with safety rails
set, that will NEVER happen and you can really
free yourself to push things to the limits without
having to worry about crushing yourself under
ALWAYS found it ironic that the station where
people do one of the most dangerous exercises
in the gym (and quite often lift more weight than
they can safely handle on it!) is the one station
that has almost NO safety measures built into
about it this way...when was the last time you
saw somebody get crushed under a barbell curl,
yet how many times do you see people doing curls
in the rack while doing bench presses on a free
basically, set yourself free and do your pressing
in the rack. You can push yourself harder and
fight through those sticking points without worrying
about getting stuck under the bar if you don't
you want to maximize your bench press, put these
tips to work. You'll starting noticing a very
big difference in how much weight you can lift
almost immediately AND in the long-term!
more unique and innovative training
information just like this?
you need "Powerful Training
Training Secrets" is our
extraordinary new membership
site that is PACKED with new
and effective information information,
just like this. If you want
to maximize your muscle, build
strength and drop fat and the
just isn't doing the job, you
NEED the cutting-edge techniques
and exercises you'll find in
"Powerful Training Secrets."
best part? Almost EVERY SINGLE
TECHNIQUE AND EXERCISE has video
demonstrations just like
this so you know EXACTLY what
you're doing every step of the
here for more information
and to sign up now!
My BEST Body Transformation Program
to BetterU News now and get a copy of "MyDirty Little Secret Program For Building
Muscle and Losing Fat FAST!" for
30 day training and eating program reveals
my single most powerful physique
transformation secret...sign up now and