Healthy Matters: Part II: Blast your bench press
By now you have hopefully been able to experiment on the techniques and advice from my previous article-Part I on how to increase your bench press.
Don’t worry if you have hit a plateau. Here are recommendations to “pack the pounds” on your bench press and if you have hit a “sticking point” in your workouts. Follow these secrets and watch your Bench explode!
1. Legs: Hit the legs my friends. The majority of our power is generated from our legs. More specifically it begins at the feet (I will save this topic for another article though) and the bench press is no different. Powerful hips and the lower region will assist with the transition from the eccentric to the concentric phase. What does this mean? Simple, you will be able to push from the chest more easily. Arguably, the most difficult part of the lift is at the bottom when we go to push the weight off our chest. You don’t have to be an engineer to figure out the arms are at a disadvantaged angle.
Coach’s corner: 1-2 times/week include multi-joint activity for the lower body such as a deadlift, lunge or a squat to name a few. Try this 1-3 sets of 8-10 reps with a 1-3 minute rest period between sets focusing on a controlled eccentric phase and exploding on the concentric phase.
2. Triceps: This muscle will allow you to push through the “sticking point” half-way through your push and also lock out the arms. The region includes three muscles and it is a major muscle used in the press so use it.
Coach’s corner: the narrower your hands the more the triceps are working. Play around with different grip widths and find the one that feels and works best for you. Generally, the hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width. I recommend “dips” and “close grip bench press.” Execute 1-3 sets of 8-10 with a 1-3 minute rest period between sets. If dips are too difficult, begin with one set as many as you can and progress from there.
Don’t forget the shoulders- The sub-scapulae along with other muscles are the “back-side” of the primary muscles used. So, naturally we need to work on them. The sub-scapulae will control the weight as you lower and also provide stored energy to prepare for the press. Translation-it keeps the bar from falling on your face and also gives you an explosive boost off your chest.
Coach’s corner: don’t forget to add accessory lifts to your routine like I’s, Y’s, T’s and of course basic “back” exercises such as standing bent over-rows. Execute 1-3 sets of 8-10 with a 1-3 minute rest period between sets.
3. Sprints: Huh? You’re probably thinking why. Here a couple of reasons; first, they increase testosterone which is an important aspect of building muscle mass amongst other things. Second, they increase power (explosion) in your lower region and particularly your hips. Put this all together and you have unbelievable hip activation to assist with the press.
When I speak about hips I am talking about hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings and low back. Also, the Achilles and calves provide an amazing stored energy component as well.
Coach’s corner: start small and slowly increase volume. Begin with a 5-10 second burst faster than a jog and not quite a maximum sprint. As you become experienced and acclimated to the intensity eventually work to an all-out sprint. Perform 2-5 sets with a 1-2 minute rest period between sets.
Please remember sets, repetitions and rest periods may vary depending upon what phase/period/experience/objective you are trying to attain.
I can’t wait to see the expression on your face when you use these exercises and more importantly see the amazing results!
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Randy Behr -M.A., CSCS, MORR, Cooper’s 25 + years in sports & fitness; coaching, teaching, strength & conditioning as an Athletic Director, Health Educator, Sports Information Director, P.T. Education Director and Fitness Director with the NJCAA, USA Track & Field, Arena Football League, Olympic Training Center, and the California Football Association.