Bench press is the ultimate, male ego lift. If you use a Globo gym on a Monday night, you’ll know this more than anyone – After all, it’s National bench press day. Saying that,
But, is there a better way to increase your bench press, rather than smashing out set after set of the same lift?
Get the set up correct. Use the warm up to practice your initial set up, pulling the bar down and driving off your chest. I like to imagine I’m about to lift my 1 rep max. By thinking like this, I’m increasing the neural drive and activating those muscle fibres by exploding out the bottom. I like to start with just the bar and really focusing on the bar path, pulling the bar apart and bringing it down towards my sternum.
One thing I find people always miss out is structural balance. Simply put, balance throughout both left & right sides, front & back and side to side. We call these planes of movement. The most common problem among general population is imbalances between their left and right side. I’d recommend, starting off using dumbbells to ensure both arms are working the same and it’s also a bit less stressful for the shoulder joint. Use a neutral grip if you’ve had previous shoulder problems.
Work on your external rotators of the upper arm. If the teres minor and infraspinatus AKA rotator cuffs are significantly weaker than your pecs, this can cause pain in the shoulder joint. Exercises such as the seated external rotation with a dumbbell will help this.
Use paused reps at weak points. The addition of pauses into “sticky” points can significantly help your bench press. If you struggle to get out the bottom of the bench, adding in a 3-5 second pause will help.
Ditch the smith machine. Research has shown that barbells and dumbbells are far superior when training for strength and hypertrophy. That doesn’t mean the smith machine doesn’t have its place, it does. Just not with bench press.