The Core Lifts – Bench Press

bench picToday is the first in a series detailing each of the four “core” lifts that are the base of the dynamic strength training program I have shared in this blog.  Today’s lift is the Bench Press.

The Bench Press is normally categorized as a Power lift (as opposed to an Explosive lift) and primarily uses the Pectorals and Triceps.

Coaching/ Teaching Points

Position – The athlete will lie with their back flat on the bench, with their hips in contact with the bench.  They should be positioned so that the bar is right above their eyes when it is racked.  Typically the beginning lifter will slide too far under the bar (with it resting above their neck or chest when it is racked) which makes is impossible for the bar to follow the correct path from their chest, arcing slightly back towards their eyes, without hitting the pins on the rack.

Grip – we use the smooth rings in the knurling as a landmark.

knurling2For most athletes, if they put their little finger on this ring, the grip will be about the right width.   The wider the grip, the more the pectorals will be involved, the narrower, more triceps.  We shoot for a medium, balanced grip. Ideally, when the bar is touching the chest, the forearms should be perpendicular  to ground. We teach wrapping the thumb around the bar, rather than a “suicide” grip where the thumbs and fingers are on the same side of the bar.

Spotting – The spotter will be positioned behind the bar and lifters head.  The spotter should check to see that the lifter is in the correct position on the bench and has a correct grip on the bar. We emphasize the spotter and lifter being “on the same page“.  We teach a “lift off” procedure, where the spotter and lifter make “eye contact”, which checks that they are both ready.  The spotter counts to three and both the spotter and lifter move the weight from the racked position to a position where the arms are fully extended and the lifter has the weight on his own.  The spotter has two functionsFirst, he must be alert and keep the lifter safe.  The lifter is in a vulnerable position with the weight above his face and neck.  Second, the lifter should be in position to assist the lifter through any reps they cannot get on their own.  We tell the lifter not to snatch the weight out of the lifters hands, but to just give enough upward pressure to keep the bar moving in a positive, upward direction.  After the final rep both the spotter and the lifter will re-rack the weight back on the pins.

The Lift – After the “lift off” the lifter will bring the weight down to his chest, under control, touching their shirt about the mid part of their pecs.  The bar should just touch the shirt (not bounce off their chest), then pressing the bar, and in a slight backwards arc over the eyes.  The lifter should keep their hips on the bench, avoiding arching the back, which would elevate them off the bench.  Each rep should be done in a controlled manner.  We teach the athlete that they are using the same muscles letting the weight down to their chest, as they are lifting it up to the full extended position.  If they let gravity do all the work on the way down, they are only getting a partial workout!

Here are some videos with a coaching critique following each.

  • Spotter using good technique -spotter is alert and ready to assist if needed
  • Good width on grip – thumbs should wrap around bar more
  • Hips kept on bench during lift
  • Bar descends in controlled manner
  • Good Bar Path – up and slightly back towards eyes
  • Spotter using good technique -spotter is  alert and assisting lifter through reps
  • Good width on grip – thumbs should wrap around bar
  • Hips should stay in contact with bench during lift
  • Good bar path – up and slightly back towards eyes
  • Spotter used good “lift off” technique – spotter is alert and ready to assist
  • Good medium grip – thumbs wrapped around bar
  • Position on bench is good
  • Hips remain in contact with bench during lift
  • Descent of bar could be a little more controlled
  • Bar path could arc slightly more back toward eyes on the way up
  • Spotter – incorrect position.  There should be a single spotter positioned behind the lifters head.  It is impossible to keep the bar level with a spotter on each end of the bar
  • Lifters position on bench is good
  • Good medium grip- thumbs wrapped around bar
  • Hips remain in contact with bench during lift
  • Descent of bar could be a little more controlled
  • Bar path could arc slightly more back toward eyes on the way up

I hope these coaching points and video help in teaching and or completing a successful bench press workout!

Tomorrow some more jump rope drills and video.

You Can Do More … your brain is lying to you… don’t believe it!

Squidoo Lens – You Can Do More!

Jeff Floyd –

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