Here are 10 quick tips to add 20 pounds to your bench press immediately!!!
1) Arch your back! Don’t lay on the bench with a flat back. You need to wrestler’s bridge onto your traps and then lower your butt onto the bench. The small of your back should be off the bench. This will keep your body tight. You need tight for powerlifts. It also shortens your stroke.
2) Squeeze your shoulder blades together. Your shoulder blades should be touching. They should be pinched together as if you were holding something in place there.
3) Flex your legs! People seem to think squatting is from legs and bench press is for chest and triceps. In fact, if you are only using your legs for squats and chest and triceps for bench press than you are operating at 50% (or less). People are amazed how much weight powerlifters can lift, but the truth is we know how to turn on our entire bodies and not just sections of it. You also get a lot more out of the lift.
To flex your legs you push your heals into the ground and push your knees out as if they are against an invisible wall. Your legs should be locked, and no one should be able to move them on your if they tried. Your glutes should also flex as you press. Getting your lower body into the press is the hardest thing for beginners. It often takes a lot of practice to master. Keep at it!
4) White knuckles! You want to grab that bar so tight that your knuckles turn white. No loose grip. It keeps the tension going
5) Aling your joints in your arm. Don’t let your wrist bend on you. Keep your wrist straight. This will keep the power going down your arm. A bent wrist is a loss of power.
6) Keep your elbows 45 degrees from your body, not pushed out to 90 degrees like most people. If the weight opens up your arms to 90 degrees you loose a lot of power. You are strongest with your arms out at 45 degree angles from your shoulders.
7) Take a huge breath and hold it for the whole rep. You need the tightness, and pressure inside you. All your power lifts require a full breath of air for the entire lift. You don’t let the air out until the rep is over. Never breath out while pressing. This makes you loose a considerable amount of power.
8 ) Dig your heals into the ground while keeping your butt on the bench. Lifting your butt on the bench is a way of cheating, but bad form and could lead to injury. You should stay tight to avoid injury. Lifting your butt also makes you lose your arch and a lot of your tightness you achieved in your set up which can lead to injury. If you need extra push, dig your heels into the ground and flex your legs and glutes.
9) Lower the bar to the bottom of your pecs. This is the place where you get the most stretch out of the press, and still maintain control and power. You also need to touch the bottom of your pecs, not just lower the bar towards your pecs. No half reps are allowed in place of a full press. I am fine with doing partials in addition to full reps to work the different ranges of the press, but some people only do partial pressing. They are kidding themselves. If the bar is too heavy, take the weight off and do a full press.
10) Keep your head on the bench. Raising your head is a bad habit that can lead to some pulled muscles in your neck with under strain. Keeping your head planted on the bench is also another point of contact for your body and the bench that helps you generate power. Always try to stay tight and only move the parts of your body that are doing the pushing. Everything else should be tight!
***The author, 6 Pack Lapadat, is a National Bench Press Champion and Guinness World Record for his feats of strength. He raises money for sick kids by pulling school buses, airplanes, and flipping cars***