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Bench press 101

Yesterday I taught a technical bench session and ended up writing a ton of notes down so instead of letting them go to waste I thought it might be beneficial to put them on here for everyone to read.

Benching at a Meet.

Over the speaker boom's " THE BAR IS LOADED" the screen has one of our lifters names highlighted. Where the F is he? My eyes scan our area of lifters. There he was just as shocked as I sat bolt upright and motionless each hand gripping tightly to a freshly baked brownie I guess the weight cut was pretty gruelling. Shit, no time to think, dash the brownies and wrap them knees fast, slap the belt and force the ammonia under his nose we need to wake his ass up now. 10,9,8 the clock is ticking down, please unrack that bar quickly. Boom he smokes it, but that could have been a completely wasted attempt all because we were not ready. Your attempt begins as soon as the announcer calls "the bar is loaded" make sure you are ready. Keep an eye on the screen. If you use wrist wraps etc. start getting them prepared at least two lifters before you and start wrapping during the attempt before.

I know your excited and nervous but for the love of god listen to the commands! Once the bar has been handed out what for the official to give you the "START" command lower that bar until it touches your body hold it steady until you hear "PRESS" get them elbows locked out and hold on for dear life until you hear the "RACK". Don't worry about trying to rack the bar the spotters will help you out here.

Technical rules

Point's of Contact

Head, Shoulders and Butt must remain in contact with the bench at all times and feet must be in contact with the floor. Depending on your federation either your whole foot must be in contact or just the toe's but make sure you check your specific federation for their rules on this. Hands cannot be greater than the 81cm rings if you train in a commercial gym it's worth checking the rings as Olympic weightlifting bars are 90cm apart, so this will affect how you line up your grip on the day.

Reasons for a failed attempt.

1- ignoring any of the commands. One mistake is to try and anticipate the official's commands as you can end up jumping the gun, and no matter how easily you make the press the lift is a fail.

2- Changing the position of the head, feet or butt. It's unlikely that your shoulder will lift, but it's not uncommon to see lifters lifter their head of the bench to watch the bar touch their chest or have their butt lift of the bench by driving the legs into the ground.

3- Not reaching a proper lockout. Must sure them elbows are straight.

4- Any downward motion of the bar during its ascent. This can happen when one side of the bar drops relative to the other side of the bar.

5- Using the body to heave the barbell off the chest.

Addressing weak points

Off the Chest

Limiting factor - PEC'S

You need to build that chest bro. I see a lot of powerlifting pages talk relentlessly about triceps triceps triceps, but it's essential to distinguish between equipt and Raw lifting. Equipped lifters using shirts that assist them in the lower position so sure triceps might be more of a limiting factor for these lifters but raw lifters, you need to train the pec's

Specific exercises for this weakness

- Longer than normal Pauses

- Wider grip bench press

- Cambered bar Bench

General Exercises for this weakness

- Dumbbell Bench press

- Dumbbell fly's

- Cable fly's

Mid Range Weakness

Limiting Factor - Shoulders

Specific exercises for this weakness

- Pin Press from the sticking point

- Board Presses

General Exercises for this weakness

- Incline Bench press

- Shoulder press

- Front, Side, Back DB raises/fly's


Limiting factor - Triceps

Specific Exercises for this weakness

- Close Grip Bench Presses

General Exercises for this Weakness

- Skull Crushers

- Tricep Pushdowns.

Pillars of Greatness

1 - foot placement and pressure.

When looking from the side, the placement of the feet should allow the knee to be lower than the hip. And the lifter should be driving into their toes to create tension in the legs.

2 - Upperback

Get your shoulder blades retracted and depressed before taking the bar out the rack and keep them there until you have finished.

3 - Gripping the bar

When the bar is on the chest, the bar should be stacked on top on the wrists, and the wrist should be stacked on top of the elbows, this is the most potent pressing position. Width and elbow flare will depend on limb length and the place where you touch the chest.

4 - Breathing

Brace before you begin the lift and keep that brace throughout the rep. If you're performing multiple reps resetting the breath should be done when the bar is motionless at the lockout position.

Would you like us to produce more of these posts about other movements and strength disciplines.

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