Powerlifting

Bench 101


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We are kicking off #BenchWeek here at JTSstrength.com! Bringing you articles, videos and Q&As all week to cover every aspect of Bench Press technique and programming. Keep checking the articles section here and our Facebook and Twitter for more updates!

Everyone that touches a barbell learns to bench press. The single most common question in any gym is “How much ya bench?” So with that in mind, we made a video covering the basics you will need to become a good bench presser. These tips are nothing earth shattering, but in my time as a lifter they are they are what have allowed me to bench 573 lbs. in raw competition, and 832 lbs. in geared competition. They are:

Set Up

  • When setting up, find a foot position that allows your knee joint to fall in line lower than your hip joint. This will maximize leg drive, and prevent your butt from elevating off the bench resulting in a disqualified lift.
  • Get as high on your “traps” as you can, and squeeze your shoulder blades together. This will push the sternum upward shortening the distance you will press.
  • When you grab the bar, grab where the bar is most comfortable for you, and really squeeze the bar. A wider grip will shorten your range of motion, but sometimes a narrower grip will give you more power, so be ready to experiment.
  • Lastly, just before the bar is handed to you, make sure you get a huge amount of air, and hold it. You want your belly to be as full as possible when trying to bench big.

The Movement

  • Once the bar is out over your face, you want to lower the bar in a straight line, in the hopes you will press the bar up in a straight line. To do this, slightly tuck the elbows, and really flare the lats. If you do not feel the barbell coming down on your lats, you are out of line.
  • As the bar nears your chest begin to drive down hard with your feet, and elevate your stomach as much as possible. A good command for this is “meet the bar”. Lots of guys drift away from the bar, but top benchers want to meet it.
  • Once the bar touches your chest and you get the “PRESS” command you want to push “back” with your feet so you are pushing your head off the bench as this will rotate your sternum up, engage the lats, and allow you to push straight up.
  • About midway up the lift the triceps will really kick in, so do not allow your elbows to rotate outward, or you will lose the maximum potential of your triceps.
  • If the bar slows down, squeeze the bar harder and start pulling the bar “apart” as if you were trying to stretch it, and that will keep your triceps engaged and pressing.
  • Once the bar is locked out, wait for your “RACK” command and lower it into the racks.

No one ever achieves “perfect” form, but if you follow these steps, and the steps outlined in the video you will sure save a lot of time on trial and error, and be able to focus on a bigger and better bench press immediately.

Brandon Lilly is very well traveled, Elite powerlifter. He has trained at Guerrilla Squad Barbell, Westside Barbell, Lexen  Xtreme, and is now home at Berea Barbell. In his strength journey he has competed in bodybuilding, strongman, and powerlifting. Brandon is one of only 19 men to ever total over 2200 raw, having 2204 which ties him for 16th all time (826.5 squat, 573 bench, 804.5 Deadlift). He also amassed a 2612 total in Multi-Ply, and has best lifts of 1008 squat, 832 bench press, and 771 Deadlift. Brandon is the author of The Cube Method and is aiming to create a paradigm shift in the Powerlifting world.
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