Bench Pressing 101

Jake Sanders

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     Whether it be your grandmother or a close friend, at one point in time someone has asked you, “how much do you bench?” or “what’s your bench?”

 

     Bench Press is one of those exercises that is associated with strength among popular belief. So it’s no wonder why most people (men and women) want to have a big bench press.

 

     My name is Jake Sanders and I am currently benching around 450lbs and my goal is bench 500lbs by the end of 2018. A year ago I was struggling with 390lbs.

     There are a few things I have focused on (exercise oriented) within the last year to make my bench press skyrocket; but before we go anywhere, I would like to teach you some very basic strategies when performing a movement such as the bench press.

 

First, we must understand there are two types of benching styles depending on what we are wanting to achieve.

     1.Bodybuilding Style (Hypertrophy)

     2.Powerlifting Style (Strength)

 

     Hypertrophy Training is very different from strength training and should be treated as such. When performing the bench press during hypertrophy training, growth is the ultimate goal and not total weight.

 

     Strength Training is different from Hypertrophy training because growth is not the ultimate goal. The total amount of weight that can be lifted is THE END GOAL!

 

     Now that we have established the difference, we will be FOCUSING on how to bench press the most amount of weight relative to our strength.

 

     I first like to look at bench pressing as a game of leverages, and that goes for any of the BIG 3 movements in powerlifting. This means if one wants to bench press the most amount of weight, he or she must decrease his or her range of motion. This way the weight does not have to travel as far and the overall time under tension diminishes.

After we have established this understanding about the bench press....

1. I like to start with my upper back by pulling my shoulder blades together as tightly as possible. (i.e. imagine squeezing a pencil in between your shoulder blades)

 

2. While keeping shoulder blades and upper back tight, press the upper trapezius muscles (traps) down into the bench. You want to feel as if the back of your neck and traps are locked on the bench.

 

3. Now that your upper body is locked into the bench, place your feet on the ground and reach your heels back up under the bench as far as you can. KEY: make sure you are able to keep your heels on the ground so you are able to create “leg drive.”

 

4. While reaching your feet back and keeping your heels on the ground, straddle the bench with your thighs; locking your body completely to the bench. This will keep your butt on the bench.

 

5. Once you’ve completed all these tasks, if you haven’t already, arch your back, squeezing your shoulder blades together as hard as you can, grip the bar, take a deep breath in and unrack the bar.

 

6. As you lower the bar down to your chest, your shoulder blades should be tight, air in your abdomen, heels tucked and flat on the ground. Once the bar comes to a stop below the sternum....

-Push your heels through the floor.

-Feel the pressure in your abdomen from your diaphragm pushing against the

breath your just took and brace. This creates momentum that is transferred from

your body to the bar.

-Press the bar.

These steps have helped me tremendously and I hope they do same for you!

 
Keep a lookout for later articles and instructional videos dissecting each one of these steps. Till next time.

 

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