3 Tips to Boost Your Bench
Everyone loves a good bench day. If you are looking for more gains on your bench, here are three quick tips to help boost those numbers!
Build Your Back
Picture this: You are doing heavy squats or deadlifts. Would you rather perform that lift on soft sand, or hard pavement? Of course the pavement. It gives you a harder surface to push from. The same goes for bench pressing. If you don't train your back muscles, you won't have a solid base to push from. The back is responsible for stabilizing the bench. Your lats should be engaged in order to have a smooth and controlled bench press.
How do you do it?
- Work on strict pullups (banded if needed)
- Work on rear delts (bent over rows, face pulls, etc)
- Find your mind-muscle connection to the lats when executing the bench press
Use Your Pecs
This one seems obvious, but hear me out. In my opinion, the pecs (chest muscles) are a lot like the glutes. We all have them, but most people also have glute amnesia. The glutes literally forget how to work since we sit down so much and don't use them enough. Pecs are the same. Often times I hear people say their arms & shoulders are tired after benching, but their chest is never sore. Well, I hate to say it, but your pecs probably aren't engaging.
How do you do it?
- First, see if you can FEEL them work with an empty bar. Sometimes you just need to re-establish the mind-muscle connection for the movement.
- Second, it may be worth doing some pec specific exercises. (demo video)
- You can do the pec flys as both a chest warmup and a workout depending on the bands and volume
Use Your Legs
Yes, the bench press is an upper body lift, but you need to engage and have strong legs & glutes.
This is similar to having a strong back as noted above. If you have strong legs and glutes ... and they are engaged throughout the lift ... it will give you a strong platform to lift from. Not engaging them will immediately reduce your power potential.
How do you do it:
- First, play around with foot position. Some like to be on their toes, others flat. Shorter athletes may want to put some plates under their feet.
- Before you unrack the bar, try to "press through your heels (or toes if on your toes)" and squeeze your butt. Keep doing this the entire time you are bench pressing! You should not relax your legs until the bar is back in the rack.