May 24 2013
When I’m asked about my training, people are always curious about how much I bench press. No other lift have I ever been asked about, only my bench! There-in lies most of the problems when men try and develop their pecs. Ego. A good flat bench press is top to…
When I’m asked about my training, people are always curious about how much I bench press. No other lift have I ever been asked about, only my bench! There-in lies most of the problems when men try and develop their pecs. Ego. A good flat bench press is top to be able to push 1.5x your body weight for one repetition. The outcome of a good strong lift with good technique is great aesthetics. If you can’t hit this number here are some good tips.
1. Stop trying to impress everybody – nobody likes to be seen pushing a negligible weight on the bench press. Typically we see people pushing weights far too heavy whilst a friend keeps hold of the bar and lifts 40% weight for them. Great for the friend as he’ll get massive shoulder development from all the assistance he’s giving, bad for you as you’re left with an inflated ego but deflated chest.
2. Keep good technique – as with the point above, wanting not to look ‘weak’ in front of your peers leads to poor technique. Nobody wants to get trapped under a bar they can no longer move. As a result, you arch and contort your back to compensate. This is especially the case when performing the harder, incline press. This puts tremendous amounts of stress on the back, but also shifts the emphasis to a different part of your chest, giving you overall poor shape. Get someone to spot you, or use dumbbells that can be safely dropped to your side if you come into difficulty. I’d generally recommend using dumbbells over a bar, as they add instability to the movement. This will in turn make you use your shoulder stabilizers more, leading to healthier shoulders.
3. Make the bar travel the full distance – half depth reps will get you half the results. If you can’t take the bar or dumbbell all the way down to touch your chest, and then to lock-out, lower the weight. Once you can perform the full range for the now lower weight, then go back up. There are training methods that incorporate partial reps, but unless you’ve studied strength and conditioning, you are not likely be aware of them.
4. Lower the weight under control – the lower phase of the lift or eccentric, is where your body will reap the most benefit in terms of growth, not the pushing (concentic phase). To get the most out of the lift, lower the weight to your chest slower than you push it up. Don’t slam the bar into your chest and bounce it back up. Lower to a tempo greater than 2 seconds, and push up aggressively. This is generally harder then the usual 1:1 ratio of concentric vs eccentric, but the results can be spectacular.
Follow these tips and you’ll be likely to add inches to your chest that you thought were impossible to achieve. Less weight can lead to more size.
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