10 Things You Can Do RIGHT NOW To Increase Your Bench Press FAST
Part 2Part 1 here
Weight Training Journal Free Articles
By Nick Nilsson
Improving the bench press is ALWAYS at the top of almost every lifter's list of goals.
Put these 5 tips into practice and power up your bench press fast!
6. Get those shoulder blades squeezed together
This 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 disadvantage.
To 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
One 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 can't handle!
So 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 rack.
For building up your connective tissue specifically for bench press, DEFINITELY work on rack lockouts and static holds with monster weight.
I've got more information specifically on lockout partial bench press here:
Personally, I really enjoy lockout training because you can use a LOT of weight (up to two times or more of your one rep max!).
8. Use training bands
Bands 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).
When 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.
The 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.
Both of these techniques are great additions to your bench press training routine. You can grab bands here:
9. Don't forget about decline bench press
One 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 power rack
Even 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.
The 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!
The 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 on you.
When 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 the bar!
I have 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 it!
Think 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 station!
So 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 get it.
If 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!
For pictures and video of many of these tips in action, click on the following link:
Nick Nilsson is Vice-President of the online personal training company BetterU, Inc. He has a degree in Physical Education and Psychology and has been inventing new training techniques for more than 16 years. Nick is the author of a number of bodybuilding eBooks including "Metabolic Surge - Rapid Fat Loss," "The Best Exercises You've Never Heard Of," "Gluteus to the Maximus - Build a Bigger Butt NOW!" and "The Best Abdominal Exercises You've Never Heard Of" He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All the best in your weight training, powerlifting, and bodybuilding, programs.