Bookmark Website  | Free Registration  | The Team
The Lounge  | Champions  | The Wire |  Schedule |  Audio  |  Arcade  |  The Top Ten  |  Historical  |  Email  |  Video

Key Elements for a Bigger Bench Press


Proper positioning on a weight bench to maximize leverage

  • Keep the bar in line with the eyes; if you are too far towards the top of the bench it puts your shoulders in a weak position and wastes energy, and creates unsteadiness when lifting off.

  • Firm foot contact with the floor close to the bench is Paramount! Feet on the bench, straight legs with feet lightly touching the floor is a recipe for failure; it decreases force and puts you out of balance. Feet planted firmly on the floor and push from that foundation to blow through sticking points. When your feet are close to the bench, it's easier to keep the arch in your back.

  • Keep a solid foundation by retracting your shoulder blades and powerfully push yourself through the bench. Keep the chest the highest point with the back slightly arched and shoulder blades retracted, stay tight in the midsection; this will keep your back securely in contact with the bench and create the stability needed for heavy benching. Keeping the chest with a slight arch in the lower back will decrease the distance the bar has to travel.

A word about grip strength

You will notice most Big Benchers have huge forearms; that is because grip strength is a huge factor in controlling the bar. Wrap your thumbs around the bar and squeeze hard as if you squeeze right through the bar.

Grip the bar low in the palm towards the heel of your hand and lock your wrists straight to create leverage! If you correct the frequent mistake of holding the bar near the base of your fingers causing a backward bend in your wrist you will notice an immediate increase in your max bench due to the improved leverage and increase in sending the force of the chest, deltoids, triceps bicep tendon? straight through to the bar

Use the width of your grip to exploit your strengths!

Sticking Points result from weakness in secondary muscle groups. Where the bar stalls will pinpoint the weak muscle.

  • Mid point = weak pecs and/or triceps

  • Bottom = weak front deltoids

  • Lock out = triceps.

  • Use a wide grip if you have strong pecs and are weak in deltoids and triceps

Choose the grip width and elbow placement based on your body

  • Long arms use a wide grip to shorten the path of the bar (elbows out)

  • Short arms use a closer grip (elbows in more)

Employ your strengths

  • Strong triceps? use a closer grip and elbows close to your body

  • Weak in the Delts? use a close grip keeping elbows wide

Strengthen assistance muscles and eliminate weak points!

A Big Bench = Powerful Deltoids, Lats, Triceps, Forearms and Bicep Tendons.

Work with heavy weights on these groups and your bench will improve, (especially go heavy on triceps!)

Use rows to exercises the lats think of barbell rows as a reverse bench press this trains the back in the same plane as the bench press.

Lifting Form = Physics. The shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line!

  • If you have shoulder pain, (like I do), keep your elbows and arms at a 90 angle and lower the bar a bit below the nipples to increase leverage, recruit more of the assistance muscles mentioned above and prevent external arm rotation which is hard on shoulder joints.

  • Lift right away once the bar is above your chest, it's a little late to get "geared up" so don't just hold the bar over your chest, get on with it!

  • You are stronger on the eccentric, (negative), so slow down and lower under control

  • Pause at the bottom to prevent momentum, this is important on working any muscle for hypertrophy. Quick movements are better suited to certain sport specific training.

  • Press straight up unless it feels causes shoulder pain or feels too abnormal

  • Again for most people developing tricep strength will help form the most so train them heavy!

  • Breath in deep on the eccentric stage hold your breath during the initiation of the concentric phase

  • Push as hard as you can through a full range of motion

Between set resting

The one minute rest won't get it on a heavy bench day 2 to 3 minutes is more like it, many advanced lifters adhere to a 5 minute rest between heavy sets.

Initially strength is determined by your nervous system and connective tissue integrity

  • 80% of initial strength increase is determined by nervous system motor unit recruitment. A motor unit is a nerve and all the muscle fibers innervated. Heavy tension is required for the recruitment of high threshold motor units- these are fast twitch which tend to grow, (increase in mitochondria and supporting cytoplasm). Slow twitch become more metabolically efficient. If the impulse from the nerve is too weak you're muscles are weak the more motor units recruited have more muscle innervations and strength increases. Once that nerve fires once in the movement it will fire every time; this is called the all or none principle.

When a motor unit is sufficiently activated once the entire pool of fibers contract. The central nervous system can increase the strength of muscle contraction by:

  • Increasing the number of active motor units (i.e., spatial recruitment)

  • Increasing the firing rate at which individual motor units fire to optimize the summated tension generated (i.e., temporal recruitment)

  • Both occur concurrently

Heavy Benching is very taxing on the nervous system overtraining is a common mistake as trainees don't take into account nervous system recovery!

Mindset

Benching near your max has as much to do with your mind as it does with strength and technique weight mentally, you need to believe, (even picture yourself), or it will not happen

  • Sometimes little rituals before the lift are a good idea to clear your thoughts and put you in the mindset, you've seen this with field goal kickers and other sports that are primarily mental; these are called "anchors". Develop a simple action, (anchor) such as: clapping, stomping, or something as simple as deeply breathing a given number of times. It should be an uncomplicated movement that you don't normally do.

  • It is common for lifters to hit sticking points at times when they add another 45 lb plate (i.e. 225, 315, 405?); this is obviously a mental barrier not physical. When training people I would have them go from say 215 to 230 to avoid this (but that is just a band aid for mental barriers!).

  • Focus and maintain your concentration and be only selectively aware of your surroundings.

  • You must picture in your mind doing and believing you will make the lift, a grain of doubt will = an avalanche of failure, a valuable lesson successful lifters learn early.

Apply these techniques and get the proper equipment and I guarantee serious results and a bigger bench!

Look for future articles from FitnessScape with information and tools to light the way to achieving your fitness goals.

About The Author

Michael Francis

President & CEO FitnessScape.com

Bachelors of Science Degree-Human Nutrition and Dietetics-The Ohio State University, 20 Years Experience-Fitness Equipment Manufacturing & Consulting, ACE Certified Person Trainer

mfrancis@fitnessscape.com


MORE RESOURCES:

Build Muscle in Less Time With Massed Practice
STACK News
Build Muscle in Less Time with Massed Practice. What do recovering stroke patients and many athletic trainees have in common? Both lack efficient neural pathways for necessary movements, and both would benefit from an increased ability to build muscle.

and more »


The Prime Time to Build Muscle
STACK News
Although it may feel like you're building muscle during your workout, those Squats you're doing aren't adding an ounce of muscle mass. Size gains only happen following workouts under ideal circumstances. You may not be able to control the outcome of a ...



The 8-Minute, 1-Dumbbell Definition Workout
Shape Magazine (blog)
Hit the next level of fitness with my eight-minute, one-dumbbell definition workout. Combining calorie-blasting cardio with muscle-defining strengthening exercises, this all-inclusive, high intensity full-body workout provides maximal results in a ...



Can vegan athletes still build muscle and compete in sports?
The Globe and Mail
I've been reading about the overwhelmingly positive long-term health effects of veganism and am trying to make the switch, but I have stalwarts in my family who think meat protein is the only way to go for building muscle and top athletic performance ...



The Six Week Ultimate Beach Body Plan
MSN Money
What does it really take to get your body ready for the summer? It's certainly not endless hours spent on the treadmill-at least that won't work if you want to look good fast. What you need is a weight-training routine that will activate as many muscle ...



15 Minutes to Bigger Arms
MSN Money
It doesn't take long to blast your arms and spark new gun growth. The below six exercises are to be performed as two separate giant sets (three exercises per giant set) repeated twice, which will take you a mere 15 minutes. All the best mass-building ...



Big, Strong and Lean Workout
MSN Money
Looking better really isn't that complex: Pick the right exercises, improve each workout, and bring the intensity. This workout provides all of that so that you can become stronger, add muscle, and even burn some fat. As long as you bring the intensity ...



The Instant V-Taper Plan
MSN Money
It's no secret how men can look in better shape: Build a wider chest, shoulders, and back, and suddenly your waist will look a lot smaller. Easier said than done, but not impossible. In fact, this workout has been showing to do just that-challenge all ...



Strength training builds up bone
Hanford Sentinel
Strength-training exercises build muscle by harnessing resistance — that is, an opposing force that muscles must strain against. Resistance can be supplied by your body weight, free weights, elasticized bands or specialized machines. No matter what ...

and more »


Simple Guide to More Muscle
MSN Money
Sometimes we overcomplicate our workout. We add more exercises, change rep ranges, shift rest periods-only to realize that all the work didn't deliver more results. This plan is designed for someone that wants to think less and see more. As in, see ...

and more »

Google News


Advertisement



Section Site Map - Submit News - Feedback - Comments - Advertise with Us

Copyright 2006 Luminati Inc. All rights reserved.