Sports Conditioning 101 – Wide-Grip Bench Press

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Exploding upwards? Is my technique questionable? How often am I doing bench during my workout routine?

How often am I willing to train it moving forward? Am I doing supporting exercises back and shoulders in particular that warrant decent bench numbers? Have I had injuries arise from doing this exercise in the past, and if so, what was the root cause? What program have I enjoyed most and stuck to for the longest in the past on the bench?

Now, with answers in hand, we can start to get into the fun stuff and start building you a killer bench… 2. Lay the foundation for a big bench press with a powerful core. So knowing this, should you be doing an endless number of crunches? Not necessarily. Breathe like a boss. Often times the simplest advice is also the most powerful. As former competitive powerlifter Mark Rippetoe of Starting Strength reminds us, Another tip from the pros? Lift more by visualizing yourself lifting more. Cell phones have become more common in weight rooms than water bottles.

Does that sound like something you might be interested in? Why does it work so well? In other words, put away the cell phone and boost your performance under the bar instead. Bench with speed and power for faster gains.

Spot the Error

When you think of exercises like the bench press and the squat, what do you think? But if you want to develop power under the bar you gotta train with power. Bro-gym wisdom typically goes as this: lower super slowly, hold, and then push on out of it.

But space science disputes this. Push with Maximum velocity. Did I mention how benching with speed can help increase your bench? An Italian study split up 20 athletes into two groups and were instructed to perform the bench press as follows: Group 1 pushed at max speed. The results? Lead off with the bench press. Squeeze the crap out of the bar. Doing this has a curious mental effect—it establishes dominance and control. You become master and commander of the bar.

Pull the bar out, and hold it for a couple seconds. This might seem trivial, but pulling the bar out from the rack and holding it for a few seconds does a few sneaky things: Acclimatizes your mind and body to the weight. This is something I have started doing with all my heavy lifts squats in particular because it gives me the confidence that I can bear the weight.

Seems trivial or like some New Agey type crap but the simple act of wielding the weight above me reminds me that I am the one in control of the bar. Gives you a chance to settle and properly grip the bar. Often times lifters will pull the bar off the rack and essentially let it drop down onto their chest without asserting control and proper grip of the bar.

Holding it for a few beats above you lets your grip settle. Locks things in. And perhaps more importantly, holding the bar for a couple beats will not only get your traps and elbows firing, but it will sink you into the bench and locks everything in. In other words, it helps settle you into a position where you can unleash some serious power. Build a cleaner and more stable press with a strong back. Keep 5 points of contact. Use a spotter. And why is that important? Get caffeinated to improve performance.

Crazy, hey? And what say you, science? Like you needed another excuse to pour yourself another cup of coffee… Track your lifting. Because it gives you a platform to set weekly and monthly goals for your lifting. Because it keeps you focused on the work at hand when in the gym. And because tracking your performance in the gym also has the curious effect of showing you with cold, hard numbers when your progress has stalled out and it is time to switch things up. Bar to dumbbells, for instance. How to save your shoulders while doing bench. Electromyography data were normalized as a percentage of MVIC.

Statistical tests were repeated after normalization through MVIC. Results of the EMG data for muscle groups were analyzed for distribution and to distinguish the data that followed normal distribution, a Kolomogorov—Smirnov test was applied. Effect size was calculated to 0. With the aim of comparing two types of barbells for optimizing muscle activation in bench press exercise, we employed electromyography EMG.

Training for Size

By overlaying the graphs of the two exercises with locked and free-grip barbell it was possible to select an identical analysis window for the two exercises. It is important to emphasize that, since the two bar systems are similar but not identical, EMG peaks may not correspond to identical angular moments.

Therefore, to synchronize the peaks we performed a shift on the axis of the abscissas Figure 4. The comparison of the graphs was calculated over a period of seven concentric-eccentric contraction cycles. The length of the time was chosen by observing the graphs, excluding the queues and the regions of the tracks that showed obvious heterogeneity in muscle activation patterns. By assuming the free-grip barbell test as the test with the highest intensity signal, the difference between the two test signals was calculated.

Since bench press mainly affects the PM muscle [ 3 , 4 ] it was expected that the test reassessment variability index was low especially for this group. The other muscles tested are affected in a variable way depending on the personal style that each of the subjects use when lifting the barbell. Statistical analysis confirmed this hypothesis. In Figure 5 the EMG mean values for each examined subject are reported. White and black bars refer to locked barbell TB and free-grip barbell EB , respectively. The statistical analysis showed that pectoralis major, anterior deltoid and biceps brachii rejected the normal distribution hypothesis.

On the contrary, normal distribution was verified for the triceps brachii. Therefore, different tests were applied. A statistically significant increase in muscle activity using the free-grip barbell for the PM Group mean values were the following: PM with locked barbell However, group mean values were not considered for the results since the distributions except for the triceps brachii were not significant.

sports conditioning wide grip bench press Manual

These results are consistent with a greater involvement for the PM caused by less weight overload thanks to the constant arm-balance incidence angle and a greater muscular excursion for the same time that translates into a more efficient transfer of load; for the BB a greater commitment is due to the strength needed to overcome the friction of the slipping of the handles.

The bench press exercise BP is commonly practiced both in recreational and professional training to increase muscle strength and induce muscle hypertrophy. There is no age limit to practicing BP providing it is performed in adapted physical activity programs. Aging is associated with a progressive decrease of muscle mass and function, with a consequent decline of muscle strength and physical performance of elderly people [ 16 ].

Fixing Your 'Fail at the Chest' Bench Press

Strength training with BP could be useful for preventing sarcopenia and maintaining muscle strength and function reducing articular stress. We here studied the prototype of a barbell that optimizes strength training by increasing power production and reducing tendon stress. Our results evidences that a statistically significant increase in pectoralis major and biceps brachii activity was observed with a free-grip barbell compared to a locked barbell.

Some authors could observe that similar results in peak of muscle activity could be expected with dumbbell presses [ 7 , 17 , 18 ]. However, we could expect greater activation time in the free-grip barbell bench press than in the dumbbell bench press. In fact, Welsch, Bird and Mayhew [ 17 ] showed that the barbell bench press determined greater activation time both in the pectoralis major and in anterior deltoid, with respect to dumbbell bench press. Moreover, the free-grip barbell bench press would present lower stability requirements.

Of note Saeterbakken, van den Tillaar and Fimland [ 18 ] demonstrated that the dumbbell bench press has higher stability requirements than the barbell bench press. Finally, another difference between the free-grip barbell and dumbells could be the resistance caused by the sliding of the handles an effect that is not present in the use of dumbells and the possibility of creating a different ceiling greater by using a barbell instead of two free dumbbells.

Thus, although our results were obtained in a sample of young people, they could be likely generalized and applied to conditions that require stability of the joints in older populations. In fact, muscle power training has been shown to have clear advantages over traditional strength training for improving functional performance in older adults. The prototype of the barbell presents friction issues that become evident to subjects when an overload of 10 kg is added to the barbell. For this reason, the tests were performed with the unload balance and without the calculation of 1RM in accordance with what has already been done for other similar studies [ 5 ].

At this intensity the influence of friction becomes negligible and analysis of the problem has shown that friction is generated by the handles and the anti-rotation device.