The Bench Press – every fitness enthusiast’s benchmark for strength. This exercise is one of the most demanding muscle movements requiring a high percentage of muscle fibre recruitment. Below is a list of ways which you can adopt into your training routine to give you that added edge to uplift that 1RM (1 rep max) even more:
1. Switch from barbell to dumbbells
Switching from barbell to dumbbell assists in increasing ROM (range of motion) and allows greater muscle fibre recruitment to build more strength. In addition, it will allow you to grip the weights in a diagonal wrist position which is more natural and places less strain on the shoulder joints.
2. Include more benching in your training schedule
It has been suggested that bench pressing is highly adapted towards greater volume. Greater volume means greater increments. Training more often and allowing more time for technical focus, will ensure improvements on heavier load outcomes.
3. Mix up your routine/reps/sets
The biggest reason for stagnating results and lack of improvement, is due to monotonous training. The body fails to adapt due to the lack in the required stimulus to bring about a positive response. Mixing up your training routine, reps or sets assists in “shocking” the muscles. This will trigger greater central nervous system response – leading to a greater physical performance response.
4. Spoto Presses
The Spoto Press entails a normal barbell bench press, but instead of bringing the barbell all the way to the chest, you stop the bar just before contact point and pause. It is a great tool to assist the concentric-pushing phase, which is often seen as the weakest or most challenging point in the lift. This lift helps to identify weakness in the movement, when performed under control and at a slow tempo.
5. Split the concentric and eccentric parts
A great method in approaching the movement, is by isolating the movement into two segments. A downward controlled manner (eccentric) and an upward push (concentric). Training these two segments individually will assist in allowing you to put additional focus and attention in increasing overall performance. Improving the eccentric phase will enhance the stretch shortening cycle capacity, which will in turn generate a greater force production during the concentric phase.
6. Floor Presses
This exercise will enable greater triceps activation, allowing you to generate greater strength during that final phase of the bench press movement. This is all due to the cut in ROM, which limits activation of the chest muscle groups and places more focus on the triceps.
7. Accessory Exercises
Include some additional exercise options to change up your routine and enforce a continuous response from the body:
Reversed-Grip Bench Press, Paused Bench Press & Smith Machine Bench Press. Different forms of bench press places different forms of positive stress on the body, allowing for a greater neuroadaptation.
8. Speed Work
Speed is very important when it comes to refining the lift. Speed work reinforces technique, boosts the speed that you can lift the bar and increases your drive from the bottom position – gaining maximum energy via the kinetic chain.
9. Overhead Presses
It is important to have a strong base when performing a heavy bench press, that strong base being a solid shoulder complex. Having strong shoulders is vital for the “10cm” range from the chest during the movement. Strengthening the shoulders will assist with a heavier controlled lift.
10. Recovery and Overtraining Prevention
The most important factor to keep in mind is to ensure that you have adequate rest and that you are well recovered. Ensuring that you are able to perform at 100% capacity will render maximum results.
Take Home Message
Taking these pointers into account can give you the extra edge needed to break your benching barriers and exceed your expectations! Train harder and lift heavier!
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