How Much Ya Bench? Yep…the age old question once again rears its ugly head. No matter how many different exercises exist there is no escaping the one question that serves as the “strength barometer” for anyone who’s touched a weight in their lives.
Nobody ever asks you “how much can you do on a tricep pushdown”? Never had anyone ask me what my top weight on concentration curls is either. No, when questions of strength are at hand the only one you’ll hear (outside of possibly “how much can you squat?”) is that one regarding your ability to lay under the iron bar and press it with all your might.
The problem is…for most guys…the number isn’t all that impressive! As a matter of fact, some guys will even find themselves intimidated to get under the bar and for that reason, avoid the bench press altogether.
If you’re wondering how someone could be intimidated by the bench press exercise then you were obviously not one who has ever gotten stuck under the bar (ahem….like yours truly!). Trust me, it’s not fun trying to find some way to wiggle out from under a weight that was obviously too much for you to handle in the first place and is now slowly crushing your chest with the force of a boa constrictor in a straight jacket!
4 Tips To Improve Your Bench Press
Well it’s time to get over your fears and start blasting through your bench press barriers! Start utilizing these 4 tips/techniques/secrets (whatever you want to call them) and see how once unobtainable numbers will quickly become the weight you’re using to knock out multiple sets during your workouts. So without any more delay…here are your top 4!
1. “SPREAD” the hands apart – If you want to really start pressing some serious weight then you better be sure you’re getting your pecs some help! This would come in the form of its good buddies the delts and triceps kicking in to help out. Delts are pretty much active as soon as the bar is lifted off the rack, so they’re not much of a concern.
The triceps are however. In order to get the triceps contribute more, you’ve got to put them on high alert. Do this by doing what they do best….straightening the elbow. You might ask “how do I do that if I have my hands fixed on the bar”? Simple. By trying to spread your hands apart while holding firmly to the bar.
They obviously won’t move anywhere, but the force will be directed to the outsides and will cause the triceps to fire as you isometrically “extend” the elbows. Still not sure if you know how to do this? Not a problem. Place one of the small hip minibands around your wrists and do your bench press like that! Problem solved!
2. ACCELERATE THE BAR – If you’re going to want to BREAK THROUGH BARRIERS on the bench press, then you can’t expect to knock on the door of new highs like you were the Avon Lady! No. You’ve got to slam on that door like you’re the big bad wolf coming to take back what you deserve.
The easiest way to simulate this in the weight room is to literally accelerate the bar on the way up to accelerate your strength gains! By not doing this you’re missing out on the opportunity to take advantage of the old physics principle that an object in motion will stay in motion. So get that bar in motion and go for speed during the sticking point to make this “stick” a thing of the past.
3. USE THE “TOUCH AND GO” SYSTEM – You probably are wondering what this is? Not too complicated but an extremely effective method for increasing your bench press. As a matter of fact, it is the number one trick that I use myself when I’m trying to get more out of my max. All you have to do is make your last two sets one in which you’ll use a weight that you never really did before (so perhaps a 1-2 RM) followed by one where you’re going to slash this weight by at least 50%!
By “touching” this top weight you are waking your muscles up to the possibility of having to lift much heavier! Go back to the lighter weights and they feel even lighter than they did before. Do this at a few consecutive workouts and you’ll be touching all new highs in the iron…quite possibly, in just a few min!
4. ALIGN THE ELBOWS AND WRISTS – Again one that is pretty self explanatory, but also one that I see abused countless times every day in the gym. Guys, when you’re doing your benches, please make sure that you are actually getting the help from the triceps by having the wrists and elbows in line with eachother.
Too often the mistake is made by the amateur builder when he/she moves their hands in too close. This leaves the elbows “stranded” out on an island and the hands too tight to eachother. There is no mechanical advantage to having your two joints aligned like this! Get them lined up and you can immediately expect to be adding some weight to the ends of that bar!
So you see? It’s not that complicated really. It’s actually more like a physics problem than anything else. Put that tricep at a mechanical advantage instead of a mechanical disadvantage and turn your muscles in your chest, shoulders and triceps into a mechanical monster in no time! Start utilizing the four tips above to help you break through the barriers of bench max restriction once and for all!
Want to build more than just an ability to bench BIG? Start using celebrity fitness trainer Jeff’ Cavaliere’s fitness program to learn creative but effective short cuts to new highs in the weight room. You can find this at /best-workout-program-for-men. Stop making excuses. Stop fearing the bench press. Start feeling like a million bucks and start training with the big boys as you match them rep for rep with your new tricks! Don’t worry….I won’t tell them!
Jeff Cavaliere M.S.P.T, CSCS
Jeff Cavaliere is a Physical Therapist, Strength Coach and creator of the ATHLEAN-X Training Programs and ATHLEAN-Rx Supplements. He has a Masters in Physical Therapy (MSPT) and has worked as Head Physical Therapist for the New York Mets, as well as training many elite professional athletes in Major League Baseball, NFL, MMA and professional wrestling. His programs produce “next level” achievements in muscle size, strength and performance for professional athletes and anyone looking to build a muscular athletic physique.