Bench Press Technique For Competition Bench Pressing
Dreaming of competing in Bench Press?
Or are you just looking to get bigger and stronger, lifting like a pro?
The number one secret and key to any successful Bench Presser is good, solid bench press technique!
How is your bench press technique?
In this, in depth article, Sebastian Burns gives you his tested and proven bench press technique, setting you up for a successful competition bench pressing career, or, if you like, setting you up for a bigger, stronger and safer bench press…
1. Bench Press Technique: Positioning and placement of your feet
Lets start with feet position! Your feet should be spread wide. A good rule of thumb here is to always spread your feet a little wider than you think they should be. If you keep that in your head over time you will be able to get them pretty wide if you are not flexible enough to do so in the beginning.
Now lets look at foot placement. The way we will do this is to look at the foot in relation to the knee. The feet should be tucked behind your knee more towards your head and the angle of your leg from a side view should look like this (<).
There is a few reasons for this foot placement the first being the ability to drive hard from your legs without your ass coming up off the bench. The second is stability. The wide stance will provide the base needed to steer heavy weight with a bench shirt on.
The actual way you place your feet is also important. We have found that it is best to put the full force of your push onto the balls of your feet but at the same time pressing the heel to the floor. Pushing the heel to the floor can be used as a fine adjustment knob for getting weight to touch your chest with your shirt on. When you push your heel down this will cause your stomach to rise and will allow the bar to touch.
2. Bench Press Technique: Position of the hip joint
Now lets move beyond the feet to the hip joint. It is here that we create the angle of the upper leg (<) we are looking for to get the feet in the proper position. This is accomplished by flexing your gluteus as much as possible and rotating your crotch towards the bench (Balls to the bench if you will).
If you follow all the steps up till here, we have solved the problems of getting max stability with max leg drive without raising your ass off the bench.
For most lifters this would seem impossible but with some time and a lot of effort you will get the position right.
If your ass is still coming off the bench then your feet will have to go wider or farther back or both.
3. Bench Press Technique: Lower Back
Next is the lower back, obviously this will determine most of your arch and you will need to really push yourself to get your arch up, if you are not flexible enough to do so already.
I cannot say enough how important it is that you try really hard to get better at arching, it is almost the biggest piece of the shirt bench puzzle.
There is a few ways I have seen over the years to try to help you arch, everything from placing various balls and boards under your back to crazy stretching exercises.
My opinion here is that if you think it works then try it.
I personally have never used anything except trying to arch higher and higher every single set and I have been told that my arch is one of the best save for a few girls who can just bend in half.
4. Bench Press Technique: Upper Back
Now lets move to arching the upper back. Most people think that only the lower back arches but this is not so, and this is very important if you want to get the most out of your shirt.
This is accomplished by putting your upper trap on the bench and pushing your chest out as far as possible.
To see what I am saying, sit up straight in a chair and place your finger on the highest point on your trap you will see that this is not behind you but rather on top. This is what you are trying to get on the bench.
5. Bench Press Technique: Shoulder Blade Retraction
Now that we have made it this far lets talk about the final piece and perhaps the most important!
Shoulder blade retraction, the best way to explain this is to stand straight up and put your arms up like you are about to bench.
Now have someone put his or her finger in the middle of your upper back on your spine.
Pull your shoulders together and try to squeeze that persons finger, notice your bench stroke will shorten a few inches from doing this.
This will also aid in touching weight with a tight shirt on.
The reason for it in the setup will be to hold your shirt in place while you are arching.
6. Bench Press Technique: Putting It All Together
Now that we have broken down each area of the proper setup, lets put it all together into one motion, because it must become one fluid motion that does not require lots of valuable energy needed for the lift.
Start by sitting on the end of the bench retracting your shoulder blades keeping your shirt where you have placed it for the lift.
Lying back on the bench and grabbing the bar with an underhand grip, next move your head and upper body thru the bench towards your handoff spotter while holding yourself up with your underhand grip.
Shoulders still retracted, pull your feet back farther than where you would normally place them, almost where they are touching the cross member of the bench. Keep them there and start moving your body back toward the front of the bench without moving your feet.
Once you feel a great stretch in your hip flexors, anchor your hips to the bench and start rotating your crotch downward toward the bench.
Your feet still remain in the extremely flexed position at this time.
Shoulders still together, chest and stomach pushed up real high, this is where you must focus on the upper back arch.
You can also use your head to hold your upper back off the bench while you are trying to get the upper trap on the bench.
When you feel you have enough of an arch to put your traps down, slam them down hard and dig in.
All the time, be aware of your shirt and arm position.
Keep pushing your ass and your traps closer together using your feet at one end and pushing into the arch with your hands on the bar with the other. The whole time you are doing this you will need to be aware of your bench shirt and the position of your arms, I cannot stress this enough.
Now that you are in position slide your feet forward (not too far) until you can get a solid base on the balls of your feet, now push your heels to the floor. If you can do so easily you went too far. It should be hard to get them to touch the floor.
Now, without moving your shirt, turn your hands around, push together a little more, take a deep breath and take the weight.
Are you ready for your next bench press competition, after studying these bench press technique’s?
Have something to add to this great article on bench press technique for competition bench pressing?
Share your best bench press technique’s in the comments.
Author: Sebastian Burns
Read Sebastian’s original article here: Critical Bench