Bench Press: The Science

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How To Increase Bench Press Fast

The wider the grip, the greater the odds are of a tendon getting pinched on the medial side of your wrist, or the medial side of the joint just getting compressed uncomfortably. Getting a bigger arch can be really useful for a competitor, and it all comes down to one thing: It really just all comes down to stretching. The cobra pose can be a good introductory stretch. Simply lying with your lower thoracic spine across a foam roller and relaxing across the roller can help loosen up your thoracic spine so that it will extend a bit more thoracic extension will make a bigger difference than lumbar extension for getting your chest higher.

One other thing you can do is simply bench with a foam roller below your back for lighter submaximal sets before your regular bench work. That will help get you used to benching with a bigger arch which will pay off once your arch has improved and help loosen your back up for when you remove the foam roller for your heavier sets. If you bench with a tight arch, cramps happen sometimes. The easiest thing to do is to play around with foot position. Odds are, if your butt can come off the bench, you either need to push your feet farther to the sides, or you need to pull them farther back.

Just keeping in mind that the purpose is to push your chest back and up into the bar versus just driving your feet through the floor with no clear direction will help guide that practice.

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I discussed this issue in more detail in this article. In general, the angle between your upper arm and torso should be around degrees. For some people, they lock out one arm first, and never have any issues locking out the other arm. For these people, the arm they lock out first is generally the weaker arm — the stronger arm supports the load while the weaker arm gets to press the weight out at an angle, instead of straight up. That should gradually address the problem. Improving your skill as a bencher can make a big difference for a novice or intermediate lifter, but ultimately if you want to reach your full potential in the bench press, you need to put on as much upper body muscle mass as possible.

If you already have good technique but your bench press is stalled, the prescription is simple: Did you like this article? A Biomechanical Analysis of the Bench Press. A biomechanical analysis of the sticking region in the bench press. The effects of grip width on sticking region in bench press.


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Maximal intended velocity training induces greater gains in bench press performance than deliberately slower half-velocity training. Optimizing position of the horizontal bench press using surface electromyography. Muscle activation during three sets to failure at 80 vs.

How to Use Bench Press for Growth (Science Explained)

Influence of bench angle on upper extremity muscular activation during bench press exercise. Kinematic Factors influencing performance in injury risk in the bench press exercise. Bench Press More Now: Breakthroughs in Biomechanics and Training Methods. Contextual interference effects on the acquisition of skill and strength of the bench press. Effect of different pushing speeds on bench press. Kinematics and kinetics of the bench-press and bench-pull exercises in a strength-trained sporting population.

Prediction of one repetition maximum strength from multiple repetition maximum testing and anthropometry. Electromyographic activity and 6-RM strength in bench press on stable and unstable surfaces. A comparison of muscle activity and 1-RM strength of three chest-press exercises with different stability requirements. A comparison of muscle activation between a Smith machine and free weight bench press. Is the occurrence of the sticking region the result of diminishing potentiation in bench press? A comparison of successful and unsuccessful attempts in maximal bench pressing.

A comparison of muscle activity in concentric and counter movement maximum bench press. Fatigue effects upon sticking region and electromyography in a six-repetition maximum bench press. What about hand pain in the palm area where the bar rests? What about inner forearm pain?

The side that faces your body. That often comes from either overtucking or wrists cocked back which puts a stretch on those muscles. Do you have either of those issues? I think when RPE is high 9 or 10 , I can feel my right side is strong enough to stay in position all the way up to lockout but something strange happens on my left side. I thought I could start adding DB Bench to my second upper body session that week to help correct. Extra info that may help: Last time I tried DB bench, I found my left wrist cock inwards toward my body and the dumbell feel like it was pulling that way as well.

However, pressing strength was fine. Give this a shot: You meant the other way around, right? Without a spotter, it generally helps to have the bar as close to being directly over your shoulders as possible without making your hit the uprights on the press. Thanks for the article. Obviously there are exceptions to the rule, but a vast majority of the time size is the limiting factor. The biggest things would probably revolve around trying to shorten ROM.

With that in mind, really investing the time and energy into working on your arch and gradually moving your grip out should help. It may not come up right if you have adblock enabled. Any thoughts on this? Great, great work, Greg! I think the section on the lateral forces of the triceps is probably unique in common bench press guides.

Even if you use the links in the table of contents to look sth up, it would be nice to notice when the chapter you looked up ends. I think that is a place you could hint the audience to your ebooks if you dont wanna give that in this guide. Maybe use differently colored arrows for pecs and triceps? Its too important imo. After all, you cant make a lift just easier in total.

You mention that yourself further down when you say elbows in front of the bar means higher triceps demands. X is a more suited place for such an important point anyways. We could fix it if we made a custom outline and did all the in-page links ourselves, but that would be another hours of work without too much of a payoff.

Programming considerations will definitely be in the second edition of the books. Working on finding someone with enough expertise to handle that type of content for the site. One question about the position of the shoulder blades: You seem to be the only one saying its ok or even necessary to let your blades protract in the conentric enabling internal rotation. That is in tune with most others who talk about scapulohumeral-rhythm in exercises with free blade movement.

With the bench press, they all tell you to keep the blades retracted, apparently to keep stability and maybe out of fear of impingement. Whats your take on this — should we allow the rhythm? Is it even possible during a set — can you re-retract your blades for the next eccentric in the following rep? Is bench press different to other movements and thats why the others recommend keeping the blades retracted? Who could be an authority about that? Thanks for the article!

How To Increase Your Bench Press: A Plan Based On Science

I have an issue with winging scapula causing shoulder to ride forward at the bottom of my bench. Also, you mentioned that elite level benchers will generally lower the bar slower as it allows for more control. Is this different from the squat and deadlift because the potential for disaster is greater given less stability in the shoulder socket and is that an indication that lower level lifters should lift slower until they have solid bar path?

With a winging scapula, your best bet is more serratus work. Is there going to be a deadlift guide coming soon? Deadlift will be next. Great guide — already putting some of the info from the squat guide to work to try and improve the pound difference between my squat and bench. Mostly, I just feel my shoulders. Is it really just an issue of mind-body visualization and squeezing my chest? Am I doing the wrong exercises? On the other hand, it could be that your pecs are a lot stronger already so that your shoulders fatigue much faster. Greg, knee flare knees out on a squat is usually referred to as hip external rotation rather than hip abduction.

Does this action also overlap with a concomitant shoulder internal rotation, as the elbows travel outwards. Is flaring the elbows on a bench also shoulder internal rotation? When we look at what is providing the force t0 flare the elbows in a bench press, it seems to me that it is the pec major, possibly the lat a bit, and perhaps most critically the subscapularis, all firing hard and pulling the humeral head inwards. These forces are then combined with the lateral delt abducting the humerus out to the side, sure.

A friend of mine is turning the head at the last reps. Do you know why this happens and how to fix it? He can fix it by not doing that. Maybe a picture could help? I guess it sort of depends how you look at your hand. The bar would be nestled as deep as possible at the base of the thumb, and then just below the pinky. Thanks for all the work and effort you put into the squat and bench guide. I really appreciate how your guides provide more of a good technique framework as opposed to strict rules.

Very refreshing and insightful! I do have to ask, do you have any idea on when the deadlift guide might be available? I just wanted to comment and thank you for the wonderful resources that you have provided. Thanks for showing me how weak I am and how to not be. Have you ever considered selling shirts through the site? We may try apparel again in the future, though. My left arm from the elbow to the wrist is at an angle facing further to the center ie, natural inward-facing angle, when pronated or supinated fully.

My right arm is straight ahead.

When benching, this causes my shoulders to not be at the same level, or rotated to the same degree, even if I place my wrists in the same position on the bench. When testing DB bench presses, if I keep my shoulders in the same state, my left hand ends up slightly lower and to the left, when viewed from the bench. Any help with the matter would be greatly appreciated.

Bench Press: The Science (eBook)

I am convinced this anatomical issue is a big contributor holding back many of my barbell lifts. Again, if you need a photo to see what I mean, I can send one. Nothing extreme, but there. On that set I think I went with a little narrower grip since I was using a fairly light load to get a feel for the movement. Does it seem logical that that narrower grip would be the cause of the issue or would you suspect something else? I do not typically have pain with a pronated grip, but my motivation to incorporate the lift is to improve lagging upper pec development.

Just my experience with it: I end up with my elbows a bit in front of the bar at the bottom and I keep them that way on the concentric phase. Apparently I am unable to understand how to flare the elbows. Any advice on how to solve that Greg? I am also touching with the bar fairly low like two inches above the navel , but I thought that was due to my long arms. The easiest thing to do would just be to practice it with a lighter weight until you get a feel for it.

Do you recommend touching with the bar around the sternum or is it OK to touch two inches above the navel? Flare to get the bar back over your shoulders is that the same as internally rotating the shoulders?


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  • If reverse-grip bench press is great for the upper pecs, and degree incline press is ok for the upper pecs, what about reverse-grip incline pressing? Further to that, in the case of no safeties or spotters, or simply for variety, what about reverse-grip dumbbell bench pressing? And yep, reverse grip DB bench is great! Have you ever heard of something similar? My right wrist kind of gives in before my pecs and It is a bit annoying.

    Actually I thought I had to keep it as close to the wrist as possible, in order to avoid any unnecessary moment arm. Just shift it a quarter inch to get it off that bone. I followed your advice and the pain went away. That same wrist keeps giving in even before the pecs, though. It starts fatiguing and has a natural tendency to rotate inwards as the reps go up. Hi Greg, I feel much more comfortable benching with a suicide grip. I feel like wrapping my thumb prevents me from pushing more weight. I am aware it is not safe, though, and because of that I do not use it very often.

    It may have to do with your wrists. You have a little more freedom to supinate your hands a bit more with a suicide grip, which can help some people. This is the closest I could find to a dead-on side angle. My main concern seems to be neuromuscular. I mean, I can get seriously stronger on all assistant exercises without any noticeable increase in the bench press strength. Any idea what the reasons for that might be? How to fix this issue? I was following non-linear periodization protocols, but I think they were better for my accesory movements, than for the bench press itself.

    MS, Exercise science Occupation: Author, coach, athlete Website: Few things are as coveted as a Herculean bench press. A big bench press is a test of manhood in high school, and it's the exercise many weekend warriors use to assess their strength. Athletes and coaches place a premium on a big bench.

    It showcases upper-body strength and tests shoulder joint integrity. It requires fortitude to complete a grinding lift, loaded with weight capable of crushing the person beneath the bar.

    5 Big Bench Strategies Excerpted From 'Bench Press: The Science'

    Powerlifters are most concerned with a bigger bench press because it drives up their three-lift total. Bodybuilders and people with physique-oriented goals know that a bigger bench equates to a larger, rounder, fuller chest as well as bigger shoulder and triceps muscles. Even if you aren't an athlete or don't have aspirations of becoming a powerlifter or bodybuilder, building a bigger bench press will at least give you bragging rights at your local gym. When I was 22, I became the youngest person ever to bench press pounds raw. I've since focused on personal and online training. My methods have produced a number of lifters who have eclipsed that same mark.

    If you want to build a beastly bench, try these strategies adapted from my e-book " Bench Press: If lifting a barbell is a war, then your central nervous system CNS is the general directing the battle. Compensatory acceleration training, or CAT, is lifting sub-maximal weight with maximal force, which teaches the nervous system how to recruit more muscle every time you lift. By building explosive power, you can blast through sticking points, which is the key to a big raw bench.