Tuesday, November 8, 2011


The bench press is universally considered one of the most important upper body movements in any fitness regiment. Whether it is for a one rep max or a multi rep set, this lift is an extremely valuable weapon to have in your arsenal. Here are 5 important factors to improving your efficiency at this all time classic.

1) Grip the bar hard!
The "set-up" or initial portion of the lift is extremely important. Take a few moments prior to commencing the lift. Breathe deeply and grip the bar extra hard. This will help with concentration and force you not to be in a relaxed state.

2) Keep the body tight and rigid.
Once again take about 5 seconds before you start your set and contract your muscles, especially the ones located in the upper body girdle because they will absorb the brunt of the weight. Note to experienced trainers: keep your shoulder blades, rhomboids, lats and traps pulled together tight. This guarantees more muscle recruitment and therefore more strength.

3) Use the legs.
If you don't think the legs come into play, try benching with your feet up on the bench! Squeeze the glutes tight and drive the feet into the floor. Strong calves certainly help.

4) Control the speed of the bar.
What's the right speed? Personal preference comes into play but keep these factors in mind. A slow concentrated decent of the bar will recruit maximum muscle fibers and a fast, explosive push to completion leads to optimum strength. Control is the key and speed is power!!

5) Put extra emphasis on your triceps training.
A great lifter named Larry Pacifico once said, "in order to increase our efficiency at bench pressing, train your triceps the way you train your chest and train your chest the way you train your triceps". Translation, most people do not train their triceps anywhere near enough to gain maximum efficiency at this lift. The moment the bar is 6 inches off your chest this lift is all triceps, remember bench pressing is not merely a chest exercise; it is a true test of one's overall upper body strength.

I hope you find any or all these five factors helpful in realizing your maximum potential of the bench press. "The king of all upper body movements."

Jody Cranston is The Canadian WABDL Bench Press Record Holder (375 lbs. at 181 lbs. Body weight). His Powershape Personal Training is based at the Georgia Athletic Club in Vancouver and he can be reached at 604-831-1939, power-shape.blogspot.com or powershape@hotmail.com

( Jody Cranston / Article ).
( Article originally published in URBAN TRENDZ MAGAZINE ).