How to Improve Your Bench Press, Part 4: Perform Partial Range of Motion Exercises

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Board Press

It's the exercise you love to love: the Bench Press. To help you improve your favorite move, STACK concludes its four-part series on the Bench Press. See below for links to the previous three articles in the series.

To build a bigger Bench, you have to prepare your body to handle more weight. A great way to accomplish this is with partial range of motion exercises, like the Floor Press, Board Press and Pin Press. These exercises focus only on a portion of the Bench Press movement, enabling you to handle heavier loads.

For example, let's say you can Bench Press 225 pounds for five reps. Let's take the same exercise and shorten the range of motion by performing a Board Press. Chances are you can handle a weight closer to 240 pounds for five reps.

In addition to preparing your muscles and mind to lift heavier weights, partial range of motion exercises will also help you improve lockout strength. Once you get the weight halfway off your chest, your lockout strength will determine if you can finish the lift.

Lockout strength has a great deal to do with your triceps, but many athletes have a hard time with isolation exercises like Triceps Extensions and Skullcrushers, because they put stress on the elbows. Partial range of motion exercises, and also the Close-Grip Bench, help ease this stress, and in my opinion, they are the best way to improve triceps strength—and thus lockout strength.

Perform one of these exercises on your upper body workout day for three to five sets of four to eight reps.

Floor Press

  • Lie with back on floor and knees bent, gripping bar slightly wider than shoulder-width
  • Keeping low back on floor and elbows tight to sides, slowly lower bar until elbows touch ground
  • Drive bar up until arms are straight
  • Repeat for specified reps

Board Press

  • Lie with back on bench and two 2x4 boards on sternum
  • Grip bar slightly wider than shoulder-width
  • Keeping low back on bench and elbows tight to sides, slowly lower bar until it touches boards
  • Drive bar up until arms are straight
  • Repeat for specified reps

Pin Press

  • Place barbell in rack with bar positioned on pins at elbow length
  • Lie with back on bench, gripping bar slightly wider than shoulder-width
  • Keeping low back on floor and elbows tight to sides, slowly lower bar until elbows touch ground
  • Drive bar up until arms are straight
  • Lower bar to pins, resting for one to two seconds
  • Repeat for specified reps

Read the whole series:
Part 1: Lift Like an Athlete
Part 2: Refine Your Technique
Part 3: Build a Strong Back

Joe Meglio is a strength and conditioning coach at the Underground Strength Gym in Edison, N.J. Mentored by one of the brightest minds in the strength and conditioning industry, Zach Even-Esh, Meglio has worked with athletes at the high school, college and professional level. He specializes in training baseball players. Besides being a strength coach, Meglio competed in his first powerlifting meet in 2010, setting the New Jersey state record for Squat, Deadlift and total in his weight class and division. He graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University in May 2011, following his final season as captain of the baseball team. For more information, please go to MeglioFitness.com.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: BENCH PRESS | EXERCISES | COACH | EXERCISE | BENCH | PRESS | STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING | LOW BACK | RANGE OF MOTION | STRESS | LOCKOUT