What better way to start out 2012 with an “apocalyptic” tip to improve every meathead’s favorite lift: the barbell bench press…
First thing’s first guys and gals, if you’re still under the impression that a bench press is as simple as laying down on a bench press, wiggling your feet around, dropping the bar to your chest and then “pressing” the bar to lockout, likely with the help of one of your “bro” friends screaming “ALL YOU, ALL YOU!!!” as he strains attempting to curl and rack the 135 pound lift you just maxed out on, then you have a lot to learn before this tip becomes useful to you!
Just in case you’re not sure about whether or not you “know” how to bench properly or not, check out the video below as one of the true “Jedi Masters” of lifting and benching, the one and only Dave Tate, explains the 5 biggest mistakes he sees in coaching the bench press.
For more info on Dave and other KILLER articles, training logs, and strength Q&A, be sure to check out www.EliteFTS.com.
Okay, so you pass the first bench press test… Congrats, you’re not a complete idiot when it comes to your technique
On to the tip:
When I work with my athletes on their bench press technique, we go through a set of cues to help ensure they are getting their set-up and technique right to minimize the chance of injury and (most importantly to all of you meatheads) MAXIMIZE the amount of weight sent into the stratosphere.
Set your grip and SQUEEZE THE BAR, squeeze your shoulderblades together, drive your traps into the bench and “spread the floor” with your feet.
Every student of bench press technique will be familiar with the “spread the floor” cue, but there’s a chance you may be missing out and losing valuable leg drive by incorrectly executing this VITAL piece of the puzzle!
See, when I was trying to re-learn my bench technique from the #2 raw bencher in the U.S., Brandon Braner (Co-owner of the Press Gym in Little Canada, MN and proud owner of a 635 pound bench in a T-shirt), I was thinking “spread the floor”, but was still missing the feel of leg drive you SHOULD have when your benching.
While I was thinking “spread the floor”, I was putting the weight on the outside of my foot (think trying to spread a scrunched up towel on a tile floor), and this kept me from activating the “power center” muscles of the glutes and hamstrings. Brandon told me to press off the INSIDE of my foot, DRIVING the entire inside of the foot from the heel, and all of the sudden my bench goes up 10 pounds because I was finally engaging my legs and glutes correctly.
Thinking “drive the floor apart with the INSIDE of your foot” may make this a quick and easy fix for you, if it’s not, try a few things in your set-up until you get it right.
One of the ways I drive this home with my athletes is to go through this little song and dance:
After getting set up on the bench, roll all of the weight and pressure off the outside your foot (I like to do to it one foot at a time until I’m used to the “feel”) and onto the inside, then drive with your legs and literally try move the bench with your leg drive. The bench shouldn’t move, and if it does, when you apply the force with both legs the bench will stay in place and all of that power will be transfered into your newest bench PR
When you get the feel of that leg drive and really spreading the floor, you won’t need to roll the outside of your foot off the ground, and you should be able to get the feel of driving off the INSIDE of your foot pretty easily.
I hope this tip gets to you in time for national bench press day (Monday’s), here’s to big new PR this week!