If you are on this site chances are you want to improve bench press strength. In order to do that you have to realize which muscles are the most important for the bench press. Powerlifting Godfather, Louie Simmons has been quoted as saying to improve your bench “gain weight and train your triceps”. Now Louie knows bench pressing, and he offers sage advice.
Whether you decide to gain weight or not, your triceps have a huge impact on your bench press poundages. If you have read the articles here you should have proper bench press technique. So now it’s just a matter of getting stronger. To improve bench press strength, you have to strengthen your triceps, lats and upper back, and to a lesser degree the front delts.
Let’s focus on Louie’s advice. What are some of the best exercises for the triceps?
Tricep Exercises to Improve Bench Press
- Rack Lockouts
- Board Presses
- Rolling Dumbbell Extension
Rack Lockouts: Lockouts are a great way to increase tricep strength as well as build tendon strength. Setting pins in a power rack so you only have to press the bar 4″-6″ to lock it out will allow you to use a much heavier weight. Not only does it build tricep strength, it teaches you how to lock out heavy weight. Once you go back to full range benches after doing lockouts, your previous weights will feel ridiculously light.
Board Presses: These are similar to lockouts, except for the fact that the board are placed on your chest. When you lower the board down to the board you allow the weight to sink in, pause momentarily, then explode the weight up. This teaches you use the stretch reflex to overcome the pause at the bottom of the bench press.
Rolling Dumbbell Extensions: These are a great exercise to target the triceps. They are a combination between a press and an extension. In a normal benching position take the DBs in a neutral grip. Starting with your arms extended, bend your elbows until the dumbbells touch your shoulders, then roll your shoulders back so that the dumbbells are parallel to the floor. They should be right beside your head, and you should feel a tremendous strength in your triceps. Reverse the motion to full extension to complete one rep.
There are three of the best tricep exercises to improve bench press strength. Hopefully the addition of one or all of them should get you through your current plateau. If you would like a more detailed plan on how to improve your bench press, I recommend the exact program I used to add 50lbs to my bench in 10 weeks. It’s called “Critical Bench Program 2.0” and it’s by Mike Westerdal.