How Much Ya Bench? (Part II)

In How Much Ya Bench?, I made note of the fact that I was not happy with our form on the bench press.

I was so unhappy, that our Tuesday training session was entirely devoted to developing and improving our technique on the bench press.

To some of you, this probably sounds like the greatest training session ever.

To some of our guys, it actually was.

Rather than go through every detail of the session, I decided to provide you with the 5 biggest mistakes our guys were making.

After reading these top 5, see how many times you can spot them in the video below.

5 Common Bench Mistakes

1. Feet are not Planted on the Floor

Most people do not understand that the bench press is a full body movement. In order to get maximum gains, you need to drive your feet into the ground as you push the barbell away from your body. If you are watching a guy bench, and one of his feet come off the ground, the next thing you will see is the barbell plummeting towards his chest.
2. Rounded Shoulders

When performing the bench, you should always feel like you are pushing yourself away from the weight, as opposed to pushing the weight away from you. You could never do that with rounded shoulders. In fact, if your shoulders are rounded, you could never get all the benefits of incorporating your triceps and back muscles into the lift. 

In order to get the shoulders into the right position, force your shoulder blades back and down as you lay on the bench.

3. Loose Body Position

Before you even think about moving the weight off of the rack, your body better be in a position strong enough to accept it.
In fact, you should be so stable, that you should not budge if someone came over and kicked you while you were on the bench.

Correcting Points #1 and #2 will help improve your stability.

In addition, we like to squeeze the bar as tight as possible before we even begin the lift.

If you have ever trained with me, you definitely have heard me say "Break the Bar" about 1,000 per training session.

4. Pushing the weight off of the rack

Remember Point #2?

If you push the weight off the rack, you immediately lose the back and down shoulder position.

In order to correct this one, you need a good spotter.

They should actually move the barbell horizontally (across the plane of the floor), as opposed to vertically (towards the ceiling).

It should be moved just high enough so that it barely clears the rack as the barbell is moved towards your chest.

As the weight is being unracked, you (the person who is about to set a new personal bench record) should try to pull the barbell down to your chest as opposed to pushing it off of the rack.

Once you push it off the rack, your shoulder position is compromised, and there goes your personal record.

5. Flared Elbows

Before you read this one, please look at the arm angles on the guy in the picture at the top of the article.

His elbows are inside of his hands.

They are not flared out at 90 degree angles to his forearms.

Flaring out your elbows puts tremendous strain on your shoulder capsules. It also inhibits your triceps and back muscles from being fully involved in the lift.

If you don't want a small bench and bad shoulders, please, please , please keep your elbows inside your hands.

This is one of the hardest things for your body to learn, simply because you have benched with flared elbows for the last 100 years.

I struggle with this concept myself from time to time, especially when the weight starts getting heavy and I go into "Survival Mode".

The good news is that the more you work on repping with your elbows tucked, the more natural it will become.

Review Time

Now that you know what our mistakes are, take a look at our bench video again and see how many of them you can spot.

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