This week we tested our 1RM Bench Press. We had 45 athletes set Personal Records (PRs) which is awesome! While that test is fresh in your mind, here are 3 quick tips to help you set another PR next time you bench!
Technique, Technique, Technique
Pinch your shoulder blades together and keep them pinched together the entire time. This starts when you get on the bench, and before you even touch the bar! One tip that has helped me keep them pinched the entire time is to “think about pushing your body down, instead of pushing the bar up”.
Ensure bar touches mid-chest on the way down. Think sternum. Most people have the bar landing higher, near their nipples, which throws off your forearm angle and results in less mechanical advantage and a decrease in power.
Use your legs and butt! Press your feet into the ground and squeeze your glutes! Properly executed, the bench press should be a full body lift! As you squeeze your glutes, try to keep them on the bench.
Develop your back strength
A strong back will give you a stable platform to push off of and help control the bar. A general rule of thumb is every time you train your chest (pushing) you should train your back (pulling). So if you do open gym and throw in a bench day every now and then, ensure that you also work on developing that back strength. Think pullups, DB or barbell rows, and band pull aparts.
One way to help engage your back during the bench press is to think about “breaking the bar like it’s a twig”. You need to do this during the entire rep, and it will help activate your lats.
Treat your warmup like your max, and your max like your warmup. This is a general way of saying “always attack the weight”. Sometimes people take the warmup a little too casually, and then when the big weight comes, it surprises them. If you warmup like its your max, even when you lift just the bar, you practice your perfect setup, your breathing, being explosive, and perfecting the bar bath. Being timid when the big weight comes is perhaps one of the biggest reasons for missing the lift. It wasn’t that the muscles couldn’t do it, it was that the mind didn’t prepare the muscles for the task at hand. Be aggressive with the bar!