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Often called the "king of upper body exercises," the Bench Press is undeniably an important lift. However, many athletes are limiting their gains by not performing it properly. Below are a few tips to get more from your bench workouts.
Lift With Your Legs
Despite its upper-body focus, benching is a total-body lift. Proper foot position allows you to drive your legs into the ground to produce force throughout your body. As with most athletic movements, strength and power build from the ground up. Check out this video from trainer Kurt Hester for more on proper leg position and technique.
Develop Tension to Transfer Force
The force generated by a proper leg drive has to travel the length of the body to move the bar. So your body must be as rigid as possible. To do this, contract your glutes, core and lats to provide the tension necessary to prevent "energy leaks" or lost power.
Improving your upper-back strength with pulling exercises such as Rows and Chin-Ups will give you a stronger base for your pressing muscles to push against. Also, to complete the force transfer into the bar, you must squeeze it hard, as if you were trying to rip it apart.
Try Other Pressing Variations
There are several ways to develop your upper-body pressing strength. Variations include the Incline Press, Standing Overhead Press, Floor Press, Dumbbell Bench and Dumbbell Incline. Adding these movements will help develop your shoulders, improve lockout strength, increase unilateral strength and continuously challenge your muscles.
Build Your Triceps
The Bench Press is great for developing your chest, but strong triceps are necessary to take it to the next level. Incorporate Dips, Close-Grip Bench, Close-Grip Push-Ups and Tricep Extensions to complement your other pressing work and improve your bench results.
Check out STACK.com/Bench-Press for everything you ever wanted to know about the Bench Press.