Bench Cues

February 1st, 2014 by Laura

Notes on my current bench style

Bench Setup
1. Feet narrow
2. Forehead to bar. Then, Head, Traps, Upper Back on bench.
3. Wiggle feet back (not so far that the hip explodes).
4. Shift feet out to engage glutes.
5. Shorten distance between shoulders and hips.. Point chest at wall behind me.. Test drive to upper back.
6. Take bar deep in hand and lock it tight
7. Pack shoulders, push into sockets
8. Tighten everything, huge breath.
9. Pull bar out with lats, very small and forceful movement. Not a giant bunny hop.
10. Re-sink weight by retracting again (pull down with bra strap back fat muscles if can’t figure out how to retract again from there)

Cues for Execution of Lift
1. Big Air
2. Pull bar into lats
3. Stay under the bar
4. Triple Pause (makes me grip the bar harder and be deliberate as it nears the chest as though i were still triple pausing rather than panic and loosen up)
5. Flare elbows ** ( admittedly, I really don’t know what I am doing with this yet. I am freaking out so much at the chest again I can’t even think about anything other than getting the hell out of there, so this is for later )

Videos of Good Bench Days

Bodyweight Bench for Reps

165 Touch and Go, was able to get knees farther below bench here

170 Paused


Bench Chest Sticking Point

June 1st, 2013 by Laura

I hate this sticking point. Assuming that the weight wasn’t just too heavy and I got stapled, this one means that I basically forgot how to bench. Not as quick a fix as other sticking points but every time I have to refresh with this, it gets easier.

Triple-Paused Bench Press
This type of paused bench was a misinterpretation of something that I read but it works out really well for me. It was a lucky miss.

  • Bring the bar down, pausing 1-2 inches off the chest on the eccentric. Think of bringing chest to the bar instead of the other way around.
  • Pause for a moment, then bring chest up to touch the bar for the second pause.
  • Begin the ascent, pausing again 1″ off the chest on the concentric.
  • **Be precise, deliberate and sharp with the movement. The tendency as you fatigue is to get sloppy and make the pauses higher off the chest.

    The pattern from this bleeds into a normally paused rep as extra tensing where I would normally loosen up.

    I find that a little bit of overload work or heavy (over-max) partials can be confidence-boosting, but it makes no sense that I spend too much time locking that out when nowhere near that amount of weight is coming off my chest. I do best when I keep the exposure to that low and hit something overload-y maybe once every 7-10 days, just touching on it before or after my normal benches. If my overloaded benches are just swimming along and my bench is going nowhere, I’ll drop overload stuff further (or altogether). Paper Towel Roll Press is my favorite overload-y movement. I press to a roll of paper towels secured to my chest with a band. I like it because it sinks in a bit and is less cumbersome to work with on my own than boards. I’ll alternate between a skinny dollar store roll and Bounty (for when I want to go heavier).

    Use nothing that gradually lightens tension at chest
    I need to stay away from reverse bands/ lightened work/ slingshot, etc. These tools have yet to do anything for me other than train me to expect the weight to get progressively lighter as it nears the bottom. That bleeds into my regular bench as relaxing near the chest and a loose, lazy start to the ascent- the exact thing I am trying to avoid. A hard stop (like the paper towel roll press) does not seem to do this as long as it is used sparingly.

    Annihilate Lats
    Heavy rows, volume rows, pull ups, inverted rows… Annihilate lats. Do something every day.

    Wake the Lats Before Benching
    Bring awareness to the region in the back that lights up as you twist the bar. Some favorite moves:

  • Hold plate to chest and contract against it
  • Straight arm pulldown
  • Row to chest with iso hold
  • Pull-up hold
  • Band pull-apart hold
  • Relate
    Relate lat work and any bench-related work to the bench. Similar time under tension, brief pause/ iso-hold at the base of the movement, feel the bench in that movement

    Grease the Groove
    Grab a broomstick whenever the urge strikes and hold it out, try to turn palms facing while holding and squeezing it. Contract lats and bring the bar to sternum. Pick a deliberate point to touch down to and push chest toward it, esp in the last inch. Contract everything isometrically and feel how tight that position is. The more I put myself through the movement, the more efficiently the bench muscles fire.

    Bench with Bands Across Wrists
    Teaches and enforces a stable base.
    Things I Tried and Didn’t Like:

    Negative Bench- horrible
    Lowering the weight with no intention of bringing it back up might possibly be the worst thing I tried for this. My hope was that it would teach me to control the eccentric but it encouraged relaxing at the bottom of the lift.

    Dead Bench
    I abandoned the cycle because I didn’t feel I was getting much out of it other than sore shoulders. My main problem in the bench was that I was panicking and losing tension at the bottom. This variation is probably good for strength out of the bottom, but it doesn’t address maintaining tension throughout the lift and not panicking at the reversal. So I abandoned this to make room for something else. If I do ever try dead benches again, I want to do the off chains instead of the safeties. I had a lot of trouble setting up under them and irking my (normally healthy) shoulders regularly.