Learn to Lift – Bench Press »

Lifting to Lose, Bench Press edition

Since we are always pushing people to lift weights we realized we should address some specific lifts that can help you the most.  Squats, deadlifts, overhead press, and bench press are the four “big lifts” in the weight room.  They are the lifts that work multiple muscle groups and will turn your body into an absolute fat burning furnace.

Bench press is the most egotistical movement in the gym.  “How much do you bench?” has to be the most common question in weight room history.  But that’s not us – we are all about lifting correctly and efficiently.  We do want to lift heavy because that’s what burns fat, but not so heavy that you get hurt or compromise your form. By being aware of the 5 things you should never do on the bench you can make sure that your time under the heavy iron leads to pec perfection rather than pain and traction.

Don’t Do This

  1. Bring the bar down to your upper chest. it will place too much harmful stress on your shoulders and could, if done repeatedly, land you in line for surgery which is definitely not recommended.

  1. Perform hip thrusts. The hips MUST stay down on the bench. If they don’t not only are you wasting the exercise, you are also courting major lower spinal disc problems.

  1. Use a thumbless grip. It keeps the wrist hyper-extended, making it more injury prone. The thumbless grip also makes it easier to lose control of the bar as well as giving you less grip strength. All of which gives it the big thumbs down.

  1. Let momentum do the work. It should go without saying that every exercise in the gym needs to be done with a controlled movement. Momentum negates your effort, robbing you of results and fooling yourself into thinking that you’re strong. In addition, it’s dangerous – especially when you’re handling heavy weights. Bottom line – NEVER bounce the bar off your chest when benching.

  1. Twist your neck around – no matter how hot that babe who just came into your peripheral vision looks. If you do, you’re just asking for upper spinal trouble a guaranteed recipe for remaining dateless and desperate.

Getting Out of A Benching Rut

Is your bench press stuck in a rut? Has your one rep max run out of gas? Need some traction to get those pounds moving again? Here are 3 techniques that are guaranteed to blast you past your bench plateau.

  1. Partial Reps: You are biomechanically at your weakest a few inches into the upward push of a bench press. That is the point where the upward surge inevitably stalls. Partial reps allow you to concentrate on this portion of the movement. They’ll go a long way towards getting you over the hump. Use a bench that allows you to adjust the stops so that they are positioned just above your chest. Load the bar with 20% more than you’d normally use for 8 reps. Now get in position and take the bar from the rack and lower to the bottom stops. Push the bar up about 6 inches, or just beyond the traditional sticking point. Keep your reps within this 6 inch range, concentrating on a slow descent. Go for about 6 reps, followed by a couple of forced reps with a spotter.

  2. Static Contraction: Add another 10% to the weight you were using for your partials and lower the bar to the bottom stops. Get your partner to assist as you push the weight up to the sticking point about 3 inches from the bottom position. Have your partner let go as you try to hold the weight in that position. Hold for as long as you can. This is very taxing and you’ll only be able to hack it for a matter of seconds, but the effect on your bench will be dramatic.

  1. Negatives: 30 years ago dropping the weight was an afterthought. Today it’s called negatives and it has proven to have a positive effect on your strength and your size. Using negatives on the bench will also get you past any mental road barriers you may have to a certain weight. Load the bar with about 20% more than your one rep max. Round up 3 spotters (one behind and one on either side of the bar). Have your spotters help you get the bar off the rack and then let go as you slowly lower the bar. The lower you get, the less you’ll be able to control the weight, but aim for a six to eight slow count to get it down. Once it touches your chest have your spotters lift it back to the start position. After a few reps, you’ll be feeling pretty positive about negatives (your upper body will also be a quivering mess, but that’s good thing!).

Sometimes in the weight room you just don’t have the energy to lift what you normally do.  Maybe you have had late nights or your stressed out at work and just don’t have that internal fire to lift like you normally do.  In these situations sometimes it’s best to just go home and come back the next day.  Nothing wrong with that, just don’t make it a habit.  Or maybe you can add fuel to that internal fire with some mahuang with caffeine.  Ephedra + caffeine is an awesome energy and weight loss combo that might just help you push through that tired feeling in the gym.

Don’t forget you don’t always have to do the normal barbell flat bench press.  You can use dumbbells and do either incline or decline and get a fantastic workout that will shred fat.  Incorporate the bench press into your workout routine and check out the amazing results both in the mirror and on the scale.

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