Do you really know how to improve your bench press strength and performance in record time? In this video, we’ll demonstrate proper bench pressing technique to improve sport performance and cover how to incorporate it into a simple but effective training program that will deliver results. Improve your bench press strength now with these easy tips.
Improving Bench Press Strength
The bench press is arguably one of the most used exercises out there. Regardless of your goals, whether based more on performance or physique, it’s likely that you’ve seen or programmed the bench press into your schedule.
Most people fall into two camps: you believe bench press is the greatest exercise in the world or you believe it’s one of the biggest wastes of time.
Personally, I think bench press probably falls somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.
It’s a useful exercise and works a large number of muscles in the upper body. Bench press also has a movement pattern similar to many sports movements.
That being said, it’s not the only exercise with those benefits, and it certainly doesn’t need to be done every single day.
We will cover proper technique and basic tips on how to bench press for athletic purposes.
If you followed us with Bondarchuck, this exercise would fall under general developmental for most sports. We want to make sure we are doing this exercise effectively and safely.
The Bench Press Setup
A proper set-up is hugely important because it puts you in the right position to improve bench press strength.
Powerlifters bench with a large arch to decrease the range of motion and give them the best leverages to press the most weight possible. For other sports we’ll use a fairly moderate arch.
We want to drive our hips and our feet into the ground with solid ground contact so that force is transferred all the way through the body and into the bar.
The bench press, when done correctly, really isn’t just an upper body exercise; it actually becomes more of a total body exercise…
It requires:strong glutes, hamstrings, calves, core, and even support from the back.
If you see someone benching and their legs look soft and their hips are not actively working throughout the movement, they’re doing it wrong. They should be driving their feet into the ground forcefully.
One of the most important elements of proper bench technique shoulder position.
With bodybuilding, the bench press is performed relatively high with elbows out and arms in an abducted position. For athletic purposes, we don’t want the arms and shoulder in that position because of the amount of stress it places on the shoulder.
Few athletic pressing movements are done with the arms abducted at shoulder height; the arms are typically closer to the body, around a 45 degree angle.
This positioning of the arms and shoulders also allows you to press the bar more straight up and down as opposed to back out over your head.
Key points to remember are: upper arm at 45 degrees, legs, hips, and core tight, controlled explosion.
Bench Press Programming
When it comes to programming, I like to have athletes bench twice a week using the high-low system we talked about in previous articles.
What do I mean by high and low days?
A high day would places higher demands on the central nervous system (CNS) and is done earlier in the week.
The athlete would perform 4-6 sets of 2-5 reps using fairly heavier weights.
A low day would be less taxing on the CNS and would be performed with lighter weights. The second bench session of the week should be a low day.
The total volume of the low day should be close to 3-4 sets or 6-10 reps.
This training block structure should be used for up to six weeks at a time before transitioning to another block.
I don’t typically use bands with most fighters because of the stress it places on their shoulders, but I will apply chains to some of the more advanced lifters.
If bench press isn’t part of your main sport, like powerlifting, it is still a great tool to use for general CNS function (general preparatory development).