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2 Tips to Increase Your Bench Press

2 Tips to Increase Your Bench Press

In the article today I am going to talk about two different techniques for increasing your bench press.

First Technique – More Speed

The first technique involves modifying the tempo.  When you modify the tempo (as I showed in this previous arm workout) you call upon your muscles to contract differently.  If you increase the speed of the movement, you are creating a different recruitment pattern for your motor units and, in turn, your muscle fibers.  You are recruiting them at a much more rapid pace and this improves your neurological efficiency.

Typically dynamic efforts, where speed (50-75% of 1RM) is the focus, fall further to the right of the F(v) curve then heavier, maximal efforts (90%+ of 1RM).

If you spend too much time on the left side of the F(v) curve, you’ll lose the ability for high threshold motor unit recruitment and you will plateau.  You need a different stimulus and dynamic efforts are the ticket.

And remember, the key is speed of the bar.  If the bar slows or the reps are not explosive, you’ll need to lower the weight.  For advanced lifters who are using straight weight (Olympic bar + weight on the bar) and bands or chains, this means something has to be taken off the bar.

People ask me all of the time if the 50-75% of 1RM includes the straight weight and bands (or chains) and I tell them – yes it does.  But don’t get too caught up in band tension and weight percentages.  You need to move the bar fast and with great intent.

Second Technique – More Tension

The second technique involves creating more tension.  The more tension we can create for a specific movement, the more stability we will have throughout the range of motion.  Will will also have a more coordinated effort between the global musculature, i.e., more co-contraction and intermuscular coordination.  Co-contraction basically means the sum is greater than the individual parts.  In our example, it refers to more forcibly engaging the back, traps, shoulders, triceps and chest to better impart speed, strength and power into the system, where the system equals the total mass of the barbell and weight on the bar.

I often throw the cue out of “white knuckles” and “row the bar to your chest.”  Both of these cues are just to get the athlete actively involved in owning the weight and creating great tension.  Do not take a weak grip on the bar, but rather squeeze it like you’re going to melt the metal.  Do not “relax” to get the weight down to your chest, row it with great tension to your chest and then reverse the path.

By on January 10th, 2012

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Comments (10)

  1. Posted by - Damienremigton on January 10, 2012

    so when i was reading the artical. you had typed will twise

  2. Posted by - Teyemster on January 10, 2012

    Great stuff!

    At my gym it seems like guys are lifting less weight than normal but they are getting bigger and more cut how does that work?

  3. Posted by - Jdhallpa on January 11, 2012

    Good info, I have seen high school kids in thegym bounce the weight off as per the coach to handle a few more punds!

  4. Posted by - Mriz on January 11, 2012

    Awesome jim-would you recommend the same technique for a close grip bench with focus on the triceps?

    Mark

    • Posted by - Smitty on January 12, 2012

      Definitely Mark.

  5. Posted by - Chris on January 12, 2012

    Since coming to the Power seminar at Defrancos, I have added 8″ to my approach box jumps, added 25lbs to my bench (the speed work has helped crush a real bitch of a plateau I had) and have finally been able to nail a full length standing roll out on the wheel until my nose touches the floor. Jim’s coaching is awesome, and Ihighly recommend it to anyone reading this site! Solid video Jim.

  6. Posted by - Chris on January 12, 2012

    Since coming to the Power seminar at Defrancos, I have added 8″ to my approach box jumps, added 25lbs to my bench (the speed work has helped crush a real bitch of a plateau I had) and have finally been able to nail a full length standing roll out on the wheel until my nose touches the floor. Jim’s coaching is awesome, and Ihighly recommend it to anyone reading this site! Solid video Jim.

  7. Posted by - Johnnymonstrous Surette on January 13, 2012

    Good article – thanks sir…peace…

  8. Posted by - Johnnymonstrous Surette on January 13, 2012

    Great article Smitty – peace…

  9. Posted by - Jonathan Kennedy on February 12, 2012

    Hey Smitty, do you have any tips or advice for getting into and maintaining the correct position (getting a tight upper back, shoulders back, full body tension etc.) for DB bench press? because i’ve already got the dumbbells in my hands (unlike the bar that’s setup on the rack) i find it harder to get into the optimal position and maintain the technique you described above.

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