The Bench Press is one of the most used and enjoyed exercises in the gym. It involves many of our large upper body muscle groups including the pecs, shoulders, triceps, lats and traps. It is no surprise that the bench press is used as a gauge of upper body strength. Using these 3 tips will help you to improve your bench press strength significantly over time, as well as reduce your risk of injury.
1. UPPER BODY MOBILITY
Without full shoulder extension, the shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint) will run out of mobility as the bar to brought to our chest. During the bench press movement, our scapula is required to anteriorly tilt for the bar to touch our chest. Compensation through these movements moves us out of the ideal bench press technique form.
Exercises like Thoracic Extension, Thread the Needle and Trap Release with a trigger ball are all excellent exercises to ensure full range of motion for shoulder extension and readiness to perform a bench press exercise.
Thoracic Extension with a roller
- Set up a foam roller on the ground.
- Sit on the ground in front of the foam roller with your knee bent and feet flat. Position the foam roller so that it contacts your midback when you lean backward.
- Cross your arms in front of your chest or behind your head to support your neck. Slowly lean back until your back contacts the foam roller. Inhale here.
- As you exhale, press your back into the foam roller and lean back slightly until you feel moderate pressure.
- Keep your navel tucked in and extend only your thoracic spine, not your lumbar spine. Inhale and return to the centre.
- Complete 8 to 10 repetitions
Thread the Needle on Foam Roller
- Go onto all fours on the floor and place a foam roller on the side of your arm.
- Place the back of your hand on your opposite arm on the foam roller between your other arm and thigh.
- Contract your deep abdominal muscles by drawing the belly button towards the spine
- Glide the roller away from the body as you rotate your spine and return to the starting position.
- Complete 8 repetitions on each side.
Trap Release with Trigger Ball
- With light pressure, roll a trigger ball along the right portion of your neck down to
your trapezius muscle.
- Gently use a slow rolling method to help unbind the connective tissue/knots that
are built up in the area.
- You can create more pressure by using a wall. Place the ball between your traps
and the corner of a wall and gently use the rolling method again.
- Complete 20 rolls on each side of your neck.
3. FOCUS ON PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD
If your goal is to increase the amount of weight you can bench press, you must strive to add weight or reps every time you find yourself at the bar. One of the best ways to maximise strength and muscle building is known as progressive overload.
Progressive overload is when you gradually increase the weight, frequency, or number of repetitions in your strength training routine. By doing this, we challenge our body to do more and allow our musculoskeletal system to get stronger. By applying progressive overload to your strength programs, you can avoid plateauing, which is when your body adapts to the type of exercise you’re doing.
Here is a practical example:
In the first month of strength training, you might perform 10 repetitions at 60kg of weight. Then, the next month, you can perform 12 repetitions of the exercises at 60kg or remain at 10 repetitions and increase the weight to 70kg instead.
Progressive overload must be done gradually as it can be dangerous to increase the load or frequency of your training too quickly, which can lead to injury. Talk to one of our expert Strength and Conditioning Coaches to find out how to best use Progressive Overload.
3. PRIORITISE THE BENCH PRESS
You perform the best on the exercises you do earliest in your workouts. Prioritise any “pressing” type exercises at the beginning of your workouts. This will ensure you have no carry-on fatigue from exercises done previously in your workout and you can get the most out of your bench press exercise or similar movements.
Using pressing movements like push-ups, incline bench press, decline bench press, chest fly’s and any overhead pressing exercises can all help you strengthen the muscles needed for your bench press.
Taking these 3 tips and incorporating them into your strength regime will help to improve both your bench press strength and technique over time. For more help, talk our team and we can find out how to improve your bench press!