When you were a newbie in the gym you probably felt like your gains on the bench press and in your chest were really starting to take flight and you were building a bigger chest and getting stronger with each passing workout.
This is when you probably hit a plateau and started cruising around the same weight, your gains slowed or maybe stopped altogether, this is probably because your training went onto autopilot.
If your tired of whining about getting nowhere and how lousy your bench press is then start following these five strategies and form pointers which will help you add more plates to the bar.
Performing a bench press with your feet on the bench or free-floating means the amount of weight you could possibly lift drops because you have effectively removed a major power source, your feet. Watch any powerlifter bench and you will see what I am talking about.
Think of your legs as two parts to a tripod and your torso on the bench as a third, this means you have greater stability to push which in turn means you can lift more weight.
This is one reason stability ball benchers have to drop their weight so much.
Over the course of a range of motion (ROM) on the bench press you will be weaker at the bottom and strongest at the top. Usually the weight you use is determined by your weakest point, what is known as your ‘sticking point’.
Adding a heavy chain secured on each end of the barbell increases the degree of resistance over the course of the ROM, the weight is completely on the floor when the bar is in the down position but is lifted off as the bar is raised. Now you can increase the resistance on the upper end of the ROM where your stronger.
Many beginners try to take a grip way too close. The ROM becomes longer so you have to push farther and the relatively weaker triceps take up more of the load.
Slide out your hands wider instead. A good idea is to ensure that your forearms are perpendicular to the floor when the bar is in the down position. If the forearms are tilted inward or outward at the base of the bench press, adjust your hands accordingly on the next set.
As you lower the barbell down to your chest, which stretches your pecs, you’re not simply lowering your arms behind the plane of your torso. You are actually retracting your shoulder blades and allowing your chest to billow. This may exaggerate the curve in the thoracic spine but you are safe as long as you are stabilized on the bench.
Even better is the fact that you are able to generate force through your pecs whilst stabilizing, this will protect your shoulders.
This is a good way to boost your strength at the bottom of the bench press, this is an area where most lifters are weakest. Set the safeties in a power rack at the bottom of your bench press ROM, just above your chest. Lower the bar and allow it to rest on the safeties for a couple of seconds, now press up.
You have to work much harder as you no longer benefit from the stretch reflex, a fancy name for elastic energy that builds up during an eccentric (downward) movement.
Now stop at the bottom, no more help from the stretch reflex. Now as a result, the next concentric (upward) rep becomes much more difficult.
Train with the safeties from a dead stop then once you go back to your normal rep training you will find yourself much stronger coming out of the hole.
Overall then, these five methods will help you build a bigger chest and get a much better bench as a result.
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