The bench press is the true test of strength and stamina.
What if you were able to get a few tips from the strongest man in the world? He has competed in bench press competitions and has come out victorious. It would be wise to pay close attention to the master of bench press, Dan Kovacs.
The bench press exercise is one that you can master with time and experience. Using progressive overload principles (adding more weight each workout) will prove to make you stronger and increase the size of your chest.
Before we get to the video, here are some important lessons all lifters need to know.
Technique – The Upper Back
First, let’s look at the scapula, or shoulder blades. This is the first major problem with most people’s bench press. The scapula must be retracted when benching.
By retracted I mean that they must be squeezed together as if you are trying to get them to touch.
This serves several purposes. First, it gives the shoulder stability. When the scapula are not retracted, they and the shoulders are not securely stabilized by the bench.
This means that the shoulder structure is solely responsible for the support of the bar load. This is fine as long as you are not working up to heavy loads that will compromise the integrity of the smaller muscles and capsules of these structures.
When the scapula are retracted, they are fully supported by the bench. Now, when the load of the bar pushes down, the shoulders can drive into the bench and push back.
J.M. Blakely, one of bench pressings guru’s, equates this to jumping from sand. The sand gives away when you press against it to jump. This means much of the power that could be used for the jump is lost due to the surface. Now, if the same person were to jump off pavement, the ground would push back, instead of give away. This means than no loss in power would be present, and the individual would jump higher.
Now from a sport specificity perspective you may say, what good is training these muscles this way? You do not have a bench to put behind your back on the field, so is this a valuable movement? Well, yes and no.
Yes, because it does develop the musculo-tendon units. Yes, because it is a great way to promote hypertrophy. Yes, because it can develop the shoulder stabilizers and neutralizers, in addition to a list of other reasons.
The next issue should be the rotation about the shoulder axis. When the scapula is retracted, the sternum is elevated. This shortens the path that the bar travels. With a shorter bar path there is less rotation about the shoulder. The anterior capsule will not experience the stress that is present when the shoulders are flattened and the path extended.
Tuck The Elbows
As I mentioned before, the elbows should be tucked toward the body during the bench press. This decreases the torque placed on the shoulder joint. This also is a position that is utilized more frequently in contact situations due to its stronger and more resilient properties.
With the elbows tucked, the bar contact zone may be lower than with the bodybuilding type bar path. Educate the athlete about were the contact zone should be. Many times athletes with close the angle created at the elbow joint to try to keep the bar contact zone in its traditional location.
This decreases the mechanical advantage for the involved musculature and can cause an arching bar path that may lead to shoulder trauma.
Video on page 2!…