This is the 1st step that keeps you going as a bodybuilder. Incline your bench and make sure you have a close grip on it. Make the best use of staples during the bench press. Ensure you do heavy extensions and not just pushing up and down. Make sure that you use them for the intended functions. Avoid improvisations which you are not sure where they may lead you to. Be sure to set the best position for a comfortable posture. When setting this posture, you should be careful not to get hurt since there is a tendency among bodybuilders to underrate the extent of the harm which can be caused to their bodies. Do as many short bench presses as you could use the resources you have. Do not add weights in between the reps as this will violate the rues of the game.
The 2nd thing concerns the shoulder blades, which are very essential for your overall success in terms of the bench press. The shoulder blades determine how much you can cushion your body against the effects of a backfires push-up. A push-up can be too difficult or too easy for you. It is too heavy; you will find yourself defending yourself against a possible injury. This may be a futile attempt or a brave attempt of pushing your body to the limits. In the case of too much light weights, your body will be vigorous and you may be caress and inattentive to your own body language. This is why the shoulder blades ought to be kept close to each other and as compact as possible. Also, allow the shortest distance between the two arms. Holding the weight within the distance which is equivalent to that of the shoulder will cushion you against any dangers.
Maintain the pressure on the upper back as well as the traps. This is the 3rd rule. Do not misunderstand this crucial aspect of bodybuilding. When you lie on the bench, your eyes ought to be very even with the bar. Apply the same pressure as if you were doing the barbell. Make sure you feet are on the floor. Then fourthly, push the bar upwards in a very straight line. Make sure you are attempting to curl the movements towards your feet. Bring your elbows out and make the movements make you press harder against the rack.
Let your elbows remain tucked. Watch hoe the elbows are dropping towards the edge of the bench. Make sure that there is intense shoulder rotation and your body is getting as much as it had asked for. Bring the barbell close to your abdominals. This will enable you take very many weights for the longest period of time, usually many years. To avoid excess shoulder rotation, stop the push-up when your shoulders are parallel to the floor. Then keep the elbows at par with the bar by keeping them tucked there over the wrists and the bench. This is a great bench press technique.
4th Rule - Keep the elbows tucked and the bar directly over the wrists and elbows. This is probably the most important aspect of great pressing technique. The elbows must remain tucked to keep the bar in a straight line as explained above. Keeping the elbows tucked will also allow lifters to use their lats to drive the bar off the chest. Football players are taught to drive their opponents with their elbows tucked, then explode through. This is the same for bench pressing. Bench pressing is all about generating force. You can generate far more force with your elbows in a tucked position compared to an "elbows out" position.
The most important aspect of this is to keep the barbell in a direct line with the elbow. If the barbell is behind the elbow toward the head, then the arm position becomes similar to an extension, not a press.
5th Rule - Bring the bar low on your chest or upper abdominals. This is the only way you can maintain the "barbell to elbow" position as described above. You may have heard the advice, "Bring it low" at almost every powerlifting competition. This is the reason why. Once again, the barbell must travel in a straight line.
6th - Fill your belly with air and hold it. For maximum attempts and sets under three reps, you must try to hold your air. Everyone must learn to breathe from their bellies and not their chests. If you stand in front of the mirror and take a deep breath, your shoulders shouldn't rise. If they do you're breathing the air into your chest, not your belly. Greater stability can be achieved in all the lifts when you learn how to pull air into the belly. Try to expand and fill the belly with as much air as possible and hold it. If you breathe out during a maximum attempt, the body structure will change slightly, thus changing the groove in which the barbell is traveling.
7th - Train with compensatory acceleration. Push the bar with maximal force. Whatever weight you're trying to push, be it 40% or 100% of your max, you must learn to apply 100% of the force to the barbell. If you can bench 500 pounds and are training with 300 pounds, you must then apply 500 pounds of force to the 300-pound barbell. This is known as compensatory acceleration and it can help you break through sticking points.
These sticking points are known as your "mini maxes," or the points at which you miss the lift or the barbell begins to slip out of the groove. Many times I'm asked what to do if the barbell gets stuck four to five inches off the chest. Everybody wants to know what exercise will help them strengthen this area or what body part is holding them back. Many times it isn't what you do to strengthen the area where it sticks, but what you can do to build more acceleration in the area before the mini max. If you can get the bar moving with more force then there won't be a sticking point. Instead, you'll blast right through it. Compensatory acceleration will help you do this.
8th Rule - Squeeze the barbell and try to pull the bar apart! Regardless of the lift, you have to keep your body as tight as Monica Brant's behind. You'll never lift big weights if you're in a relaxed physical state while under the barbell. The best way to get the body tight is by squeezing the bar. We've also found that if you try to pull the bar apart or "break the bar," the triceps seem to become more activated.
9th Rule - Devote one day per week to dynamic-effort training. According to Vladimir Zatsiorsinsky in his text Science and Practice of Strength Training, there are three ways to increase muscle tension. These three methods include the dynamic-effort method, the maximal-effort method, and the repetition method. Most training programs being practiced in the US today only utilize one or two of these methods. It's important, however, to use all three.
The bench press should be trained using the dynamic-effort method. This method is best defined as training with sub-maximal weights (45 to 60%) at maximal velocities. The key to this method is bar speed. Percentage training can be very deceiving. The reason for this is because lifters at higher levels have better motor control and recruit more muscle than a less experienced lifter.
For example, the maximal amount of muscle you could possibility recruit is 100%. Now, the advanced lifter - after years of teaching his nervous system to be efficient - may be able to recruit 70 to 80% of muscle fibers, while the intermediate might be able to recruit only 50%. Thus, the advanced lifter would need less percent weight than the intermediate. This is one of the reasons why an advanced lifter squatting 80% of his max for 10 reps would kill himself while a beginner could do it all day long.
If you base the training on bar speed, then the percentages are no longer an issue, only a guideline. So how do you know where to start? If you're an intermediate lifter, I suggest you start at 50% of maximal and see how fast you can make it move for three reps. If you can move 20 more pounds with the same speed then use the heavier weight.
Based on years of experience and Primlin's charts for optimal percent training, we've found the best range to be eight sets of three reps. Based on Primlin's research, the optimal range for 70% and less is 12 to 24 repetitions.
We've also found it very beneficial to train the bench using three different grips, all of which are performed within the rings. This may break down into two sets with the pinky fingers on the rings, three sets with three fingers from the smooth area of the bar and three sets with one finger from the smooth area.
10th Rule - Devote one day per week to maximal-effort training. For the second bench day of the week (72 hours after the dynamic day) you should concentrate on the maximal-effort method. This is best defined as lifting maximal weights (90% to 100%) for one to three reps. This is one of the best methods to develop maximal strength. The key here is to strain. The downfall is you can't train above 90% for longer than three weeks without having adverse effects.
Try performing a max bench press every week for four or five weeks. You'll see you may progress for the first two, maybe three weeks, then your progress will halt and begin to work its way backward. We've combated this by switching up the maximal-effort exercises. We rotate maximal-effort movements such as the close-grip incline press, board press, floor press, and close-grip flat press. These exercises are all specific to bench pressing and all have a very high carryover value.
11th Rule - Train the lats on the same plane as the bench. I'm talking about the horizontal plane here. In other words, you must perform rows, rows, and more rows. "If you want to bench big then you need to train the lats." I've heard both George Hilbert and Kenny Patterson say this for years when asked about increasing the bench press. When you bench you're on a horizontal plane. So would it make sense from a balance perspective to train the lats with pull downs, which are on a vertical plane? Nope. Stick to the barbell row if you want a big bench.