Supercharge Your Bench Press
For those of you who have lifted weights for a while, you’ll probably be familiar with the term ‘international bench press day’ aka…Mondays.
And what a glorious day it is! You get under the bar and you’re fired up to shift some serious weight. But something is getting in the way. You’ve hit a sticking point and you’re not sure how to get past it.
It’s time to address the press and supercharge your bench.
Getting your pecs fired up.
Your pecs should be the primary mover here, with triceps, lats and shoulder girdle muscles providing support. If you’re benching and all you’re getting the next day is sore shoulders, you need a ‘pre-fatigue’ exercise before hand to ensure you are fatiguing the fast twitch fibres in your chest first. In the short term it means taking a step back in weight, but in the long term its going to mean a bigger bench. Here’s how to perform a ‘pre-fatigue’ exercise: A1. Dumbbell fly focusing on just feeling the pecs work 3×8-10 with a slow eccentric (lowering the weight) B1. Bench Press focusing on feeling the pecs work.
Engaging your lats.
Bench pressing isn’t all just about the pecs! Engaging the lats here is of vital importance to keep the bar path smooth and your torso stable. A really good cue to remember here is thinking about ‘rowing’ the bar towards you like you would in a bent over row or cable row. Further, if you can’t feel those lats working in the bench press I suggest adding in 1-2 pulls for every press. E.g. A1. Bench Press 4×5
B1. One Arm Row 4×5
C1. Dumbbell Incline Press 3×8
C2. Seated Row 3×8
D1. Reverse Fly 3×12
D2. Tricep Push Down 3×12
Stop and Think- Pause and PRESS!
Adding in pause reps can be a really good way to break through a plateau. To get a little science for a minute here, pause reps are all about nervous innervation. In other words, improving the rate at which you can fire motor units as well as increasing the number of motor units firing.
First, analyse your press and look for that ‘sticking point’ where you struggle the most. From there, add in pause bench as your first accessory after bench pressing. Lower the weight with control and slightly faster than you usually would. Explode as fast as possible when you are pressing to really get those fast twitch fibres firing! Pause for 3-5 seconds at the weakest point and use weight as follows:
60-75% 1RM : 4 sets, 3-4reps
75-85% 1RM: 4 sets, 2-3 reps
85+% 1RM: 4 sets, 1-2 reps
If you’ve never done pause reps before…Leave your ego at the door and go lighter and use a spotter. Pause reps are great at keeping you humble in the weight room and getting you strong as an ox.
Cues to command the bench press.
Think of this like a mental check list BEFORE you press.
- Squeeze your back into the bench/squeeze your shoulder blades
- Break the bar and brace your core
- Row the bar
- Push yourself into the bench (as opposed to pushing the bar away from you)
Lets review: In short, get those pecs working, feel the lats, spend time where you’re weakest and you’ll supercharge your bench press in no time.
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