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How to Improve your Bench Press Form ?


How to Improve your Bench Press?

A really simple tip that most people don’t really consider: bench more often. The bench press has a lot of components, from grip and arch to bar path and lockout. There’s a lot of technique that you need to dial-in to press safely and efficiently.

 

If you only bench once a week you’re effectively putting a few extra days of de-training into your bench program. It takes a while to really get into the groove of benching and it’s really hard to start from basics once a week.

 

Most strong benchers will program the lift or some variation at 2 to 3 sessions per week. So roughly, every other day they’re practicing the technical qualities of the lift in addition to the strength and hypertrophy goals. It might mean they do much less volume per session to recover in time to press again in two days but in most cases, this leads to progressively more volume over time and much more effective technique.

 

From Theo Brenner-Roach, Fitness Blogger & Personal Trainer at www.liftlearngrow.com

How to Increase Your Bench Press Max

Probably the world’s favorite exercise, there are many tried and tested ways to increase your bench press. Here are 11 of them;

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Don’t Stretch Before You Lift

Research (1) shows that static stretching before weight lifting causes a significant reduction in strength, even in stretches lasting as little as 45 seconds or less.

Another study (2) found that static stretching before working out decreased strength in lower and upper body exercises in both trained and untrained men.

Next time you workout forego the stretching until after you workout if you want to be at your strongest.

 

Visualize To Get In The Right Frame Of Mind

Using tools like visualization where you picture yourself completing the lift successfully can improve performance in strength training (3).

In addition, an extensive review of the research (4) concluded that;

 

“mental practice has a positive and significant effect on performance.”

 

Further research (5) shows that negative imagery has been shown to deteriorate performance whilst consistent positive imagery has shown to improve performance, thus demonstrating the importance of removing thoughts of not being able to complete the lift or seeing yourself narrowly missing completion.


Position Yourself Correctly

  1. Position yourself on the bench so that your eyes are beneath the bar
  2. Anchor yourself to the bench by fixing your head, shoulder blades and glutes to the bench, creating a natural arch in the back and a solid base to un-rack the weight from.
  3. Maintain the natural arch in your back, keep your chest high and your shoulder blades pinned to the bench.
  4. Position the feet below the knees and focus on driving them into the floor to create a solid base to push from.
  5. Un-rack the bar to begin
  6. Squeeze your glutes and abs for stability

 

Get your setup right for a better all-around bench press and reduced risk of injury.

Apply Progressive Overload with Micro-loading

Start micro-loading.

This means instead of trying to add 2.5kg to the bar each time you hit your desired reps and sets, start adding 1.5kg, 1.25kg or 1kg instead.

If you do this you can continue to make steady strength gains.


Squeeze The Bar & Pull It Apart

This is a great and easy tip you can apply to eke out all the power you can, all you need to do is try and pull the bar apart as you perform the bench press.

This is because applying a lateral force to the bar when benching increases power output and improves strength (7).

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Strengthen The Weaker Muscles

Although your chest is the main focus of the bench press, you’re also working your shoulders and triceps.

If these muscles are weak or underdeveloped you can bet it’ll impact the amount of weight you can lift when benching.

Focus on building strength in these areas and watch your bench press skyrocket.

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Bench Press More Often

  • Whenever it comes to learning a skill, you’re told practice makes perfect.
  • You must learn the movement, hone your form and then do it over and over to get better.
  • Try benching pressing twice a week to improve your skill and add weight to the bar.


Focus On Lifting Heavy Weights

More strength = more weight on the bar, but what’s the best way to get stronger?

A research study (8) set out to see what number of repetitions would result in the fastest improvement in strength.

They took 199 male college students and split them into 9 groups.

Each group trained with different repetitions per set from the following set of repetitions; 2RM, 4RM, 6RM, 8RM, 10RM & 12RM.

They were tested before and after completing a 12-week progressive program and researchers concluded that the optimum number of repetitions for strength was between 3 and 9 reps.


Lift With Explosive Power

If you want to lift more, then lift explosively (10).

This doesn’t mean you should go dropping the weight and bouncing it off your chest, but it does mean you spend some time working on a fast, controlled descent following by an explosive concentric contraction to return the bar to the starting position.

Prioritize The Bench Press

Several research studies (1112) show that the order you do your exercises in, can affect your performance, with exercises being completed towards the end of your workout is more difficult than those at the beginning.

For this reason, it’s advisable to make the bench press the first exercise you do when you are at your freshest.

Stay Away From The Smith Machine

If you want to improve your bench press then keep clear of the smith machine.

  • Research (13) found that the free weight bench press created greater muscle activation than the smith machine bench press and is superior for the development of upper body muscle mass.
  • Research (14) also shows that strength is significantly greater when performing the bench press as a free weight exercise in comparison to the smith machine bench press.

Using these 11 tactics you will definitely improve your bench press and add weight to the bar.


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