If you want to increase the amount of weight you can bench you have to make sure your bench press technique is spot on. Some people just lie down on the bench and try to press the weight. However, if you are reading this you are looking to actually improve your technique.
Keys To Proper Bench Press Technique
- Grip Width
- Driving Your Upper Back Into The Bench
- Retracting Your Shoulder Blades
- Foot Placement.
- Tucking Your Elbows
- Lowering The Bar To The Proper Place
Grip Width: This kind of depends on why you are benching. If you are a powerlifter in a bench shirt you should take the maximum legal grip, which is index on the rings. If you are a raw lifter then you probably should not go wider than pinkies on the rings. If you are using the bench press to increase your athletic performance for sport you might want a closer grip. The closer grip might reduce your strength slightly, but it will save your shoulders.
Drive Your Upper Back Into The Bench: It’s simple physics that the more force you drive into the bench, the more force you can transfer into the bar. To do this you have to drive your upper back into the bench. You want to be able to use all the force from leg drive to help you get the bar started. That initial push could be the difference between you getting through your sticking point or stalling.
Retracting Your Shoulder Blades: This is part of the upper back postion. To get the most out of the bench you have to get into a solid position on the bench. Since we can’t change the width of the bench we have to change the width of our body. We do that by retracting our shoulder blades and squeezing them together. This serves two purposes. It gets more of your body in contact with the bench, and it pulls your arms back which shortens your range of motion.
Foot Placement: Again this depends on why you are benching. For the lifter looking to move the most weight; tucking your feet under you can increase your arch and decrease range of motion. If benching is your sport this is the way to go. For athletes using the bench press to improve their athletic ability; setting your feet out in front of you so you can drive back is a better option.
Tucking Your Elbows: When you lower the bar your elbows should be roughly 45 degrees from your torso. This puts you in the best position to move the most weight, and do so safely. It decreases the rotation of the shoulders, and allows you to use your lats more. For both powerlifters and athletes, this is proper bench press technique.
Lowering The Bar To The Proper Place: This one again is depends. For lifters you want to lower the bar to your sternum. This decreases the range of motion, and increases your chances to bench maximal weight. For raw lifters and athletes you cannot safely go that low without supportive equipment. You should lower the bar to just below the nipple line. Just remember the higher you place the bar on your chest, the more shoulder rotation you have to endure. Over the long term this is unhealthy.
These are some of the key points for proper technique. Try to practice these every time that you bench. Don’t try to change everything at once. Concentrate on ONE thing until it becomes second nature, and then move on. If you want to bench big weight you have to set up properly every time.