If you're an athlete or serious fitness enthusiast, you are most likely going to be bench pressing at some point in your training career.
Many people think a Bench Press involves simply lying on your back, grabbing the bar, lowering it to your chest and pressing it off. This may be you, and that's OK. But the lift is far more complicated if you want to get serious about pressing weight off your chest.
For most athletes, this comes down to the setup. Like all major lifts, the Bench Press requires a rather complex setup, but it can make the difference between hitting the lift safely and efficiently, or failing to lift heavy weight or even getting hurt.
Athletes playing sports that require a Bench Press test should pay particular attention. The better your setup, the more reps you will be able to hit and the better your performance will be in the test.
So here we go. Make sure to check out the video for visual demonstrations.
Keys to a Big Bench Press
Arch. Yes, it is perfectly safe to arch your back on the bench. Just make sure to keep your butt planted and upper back tight to the bench and your arch will be solid and safe.
Butt. Squeeze your glutes as hard as you possibly can and keep your butt planted on the bench.
Upper Legs. If possible, squeeze the bench with your thighs. This can be especially helpful if you are having trouble keeping your butt planted.
Lower Legs/Feet. Your feet should be tucked behind your knees and planted firmly on the floor. This allows you to generate a good amount of force just from your legs—commonly referred to as leg drive.
Upper Back. Your upper back should be tight and firmly planted to the bench. Think of your upper back as the brakes of the Bench Press. Feel free to use the bar or power rack/bench to screw your back into the bench. Again, refer to the video for a visual demonstration.
Hands. Once you get your width selected and your hands on the bar, mentally cue yourself to spread the bar apart with your hands. Think of it like a Band Pullapart. This will create more stability.
One more tip. Once you unrack the bar, let it settle. Don't rush yourself and immediately start lowering the bar before you have even finished unracking it. Let it settle while you keep bracing and staying tight, then proceed with the lift.
Give those coaching tips a shot and see what happens to your bench!
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock