3 Tips for Bigger Bench Press
Has your bench been stagnant? You have tried every little trick possible. Chains, bands, different bars, the results have all been consistently pitiful and you are sick of it! It’s time to dig even deeper and find the best way to improve your bench. By comprehending these three simple tips, you can blast through your bench plateau today!
What is needed?
When we are discussing the keys behind the bench press, there are multiple elements that must be focused on and hounded upon. By having a better understanding of what contributes to a big bench, the lifter can then attack those elements and truly develop them over a long period of time.
For starters, a big bench press starts with stable shoulders. To properly handle horizontal adduction, there needs to be strong shoulder stability. The lats and the traps and the pecs should all cocontract and support a stable shoulder joint. The more stable the joint is, the more force the lifter can produce and the more load the bencher will move!
To build off the stable shoulders, a big bench presser MUST know how to rapidly coordinate during the coupling phase. What the heck is the coupling phase? This is the point in time when the lifter lowers the bar to their chest and rapidly drives the bar off their chest. The more control during the coupling phase the bencher has, the more direct force they can apply to the bar and accelerate from their chest. This is key for big time power output!
Out of the coupling phase, every big bencher has RAPID DRIVE! By extending their elbows rapidly and having strong intermuscular coordination from the pecs and lats into the triceps, the rapid drive finishes the strong lift. This can be trained by some benchers but can also be part of being a good athlete. The faster athletes coordinate, the better they can press.
That’s great...but what does this mean from a practical perspective?
1. MORE BIG SETS
Oftentimes, we have athletes that come in that have been struggling to bump their bench press. Watching them train, they may hit a heavy double or heavy triple, then they move on from the bench press. This is ok to a point but as the lifter ages and becomes more experienced, hitting 1 or 2 heavy sets simply won’t cut it. The lifter MUST hit 4-5 BIG sets. A good example session may look like this.
4-5 sets of 2-4 reps followed by 1-2 sets of 5-8 reps.
This will lead to greater neural drive and constant stress that stimulates high threshold motor units. When the drop set is executed, those HTMU’s are fatigued and imprinted!
2. GET A BIG BACK
Build massive lats, smash the traps, and get the rhomboids to grow! This is key not only because of the factors behind cocontractions in the shoulder but also to improve recovery and general wear and tear on the upper body. Exercises like pull-ups, shrugs, DB external rotations, and one arm rows will lead to better rowing ability AND more muscular growth.
Don’t skimp on the back work. Hit 1-2 extra sets every day and focus on your weak points, which will enhance the posterior chain and improve bench production.
Alter the eccentric portion from 3 seconds all the way to 7 seconds. Altering the tempo will create different feelings and stimulate different growth. This can also be changed by doing faster eccentric movements that also need to be developed with rapid coupling phases. When the tempo is slowed on the eccentric movement, it’s easier to notice where a weakness might be and then the athlete can target the problems!
Know the key elements behind the bench press, having a stable shoulder joint, improving coupling coordination and understanding a rapid drive as keys to long term development. As you start to improve, embrace those big sets over and over again. Follow that training with serious BACK stimulation to develop a foundation and improve thickness. When altering tempos, be sure to feel and notice any sticking points or weaknesses and hammer those issues out of existence!
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