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The best damn bench press article

Der beste verdammte Bankdrücken Artikel

In the first part of this article, we looked at the history of the bench press and took a look at a wealth of scientific studies that have looked at different aspects of this exercise. In this second part, we will describe methods for increasing bench press strength based on the studies we have looked at.

Methods for increasing bench press strength

This section will look at the technique of the bench press and identify methods that can be used to strengthen different areas of the range of motion.


Your technique will be determined by your anatomy and your goals. Compared to powerlifters, most bodybuilders don't arch their back quite as much. On the other hand, they extend their elbows further out to the side and lower the bar more towards the upper part of the chest.

Studies have shown that guillotine presses (bench presses with the bar lowered towards the neck) with 100 kilos of weight activate more chest muscles than powerlifter-style bench presses with 125 kilos. This suggests that bodybuilders know how to maximize muscle activation, but it is also important to consider joint health. Although there is no doubt that guillotine presses are superior when it comes to activating the pectoral muscles, this exercise variation is also more dangerous for the shoulder joints.

Physiological responses to different techniques can vary. For example, some exercisers can use Guillotine Presses their entire career and never suffer any negative consequences, while other exercisers may experience shoulder problems just watching someone else perform Guillotine Presses.

For a higher rate of activation of the pectoral muscles, you can turn the elbows out and lower the bar more towards the top of the chest, but when it comes to maximizing safety for the shoulder joints, using a 45 degree shoulder angle is the safest option,

Another strategy to increase pec involvement and reduce tricep involvement is to "not pull the bar down to the chest" by "pushing the bar apart." If you do this, you will allow your pecs to contribute more to slowing the bar down than if you were to use your triceps on the way down.

If you simply want to reduce the force contribution from the lower body and force the upper body muscles to do the work, then you should eliminate the pressure from the legs during the upward movement by placing the feet flat on the floor under your knees. Make sure not to press your feet against the floor during the upward movement and focus on using only upper body strength.

Varying your grip will also shift the contributions of different muscles during the bench press. A tighter grip will result in a greater involvement of the arms and shoulders, while further grip variations will result in a greater contribution from the chest muscles. If you want to get a little more contribution from the triceps, keep your elbows closer to your body throughout the movement.

Ultimately, these strategies are not absolutes. Some exercisers will achieve less change in muscle activation than others by changing their bench press technique. The reason for this is that different exercisers have different levels of mobility and stability, different weak points and different anthropometrics. Some might feel big differences when using different techniques, while others will only notice minor changes.

If you are interested in maximizing strength, we recommend the following:

  • Don't ignore the pressure from the legs. Experiment to find the best foot position for you, find a stable base, tense the quadriceps and push the knees outwards to activate the gluteus.
  • Support your upper body on your upper back and arch your lower back as you dig your shoulder blades into the bench. Hold this position throughout the upward movement and place the bar overhead before lowering it to your chest.
  • Experiment to find the best grip for you. Grip the bar as tightly as possible and grip the bar tightly with your thumb. Maintain a neutral wrist position.
  • Take a deep breath and pull the bar down with your latissimus. Initiate the pressing movement with your latissimus and focus on pushing your body away from the bench. Experiment with different paths of the bar to find the best path for you. Only exhale when you have completed the "sticky region" described in the first part of this article.
  • Don't let the bar bounce off your chest and don't lift your butt during the exercise.

Unique methods for increasing strength

Raw powerlifters (powerlifters who train without supportive equipment) spend more time focusing on strength at the bottom of the movement and use full range of motion movements, while powerlifters who use supportive equipment spend more time increasing their strength at the top of the movement because their press shirt provides tremendous elastic support at the bottom of the movement.

Most importantly - the standard bench press

If all you ever did was the standard bench press, that would be fine. However, the variations below will help you get from point A to point B faster if you train correctly.

Strength at the bottom of the movement

  1. Bench press where the weight is placed on a rack at the bottom of the movement at the start of each repetition
  2. Bench press with isometric hold at the lowest point of the movement

Strength in the middle range of motion

  1. Bench press with isometric hold in the middle range of motion
  2. Bench press across the lower half of the range of motion with isometric pressing against a rack halfway up the range of motion
  3. Explosive Floor Presses
  4. Bench press over the upper half of the movement starting from a rack in the middle of the range of motion

Strength in the upper part of the movement

  1. Floor Presses
  2. Board Presses (1-4 planks)
  3. Bench Press over the top third or quarter of the movement starting from a rack
  4. Isometric hold in a position with arms almost extended
  5. Isometric press against a rack at the top of the movement
  6. Bench press with bands, with the weight hanging from the bands from above
  7. Bench press with chains (overload at the highest point of the movement)
  8. Bench press with bands (overload at the highest point of the movement)

Eccentric strength

  1. Emphasized negative repetitions
  2. Bench press with weight releasers


  1. Bench press with bundles of chains hanging from the bar
  2. Bench press with kettlebells hanging from the bar
  3. Dumbbell bench press
  4. Alternating dumbbell bench press
  5. One-arm dumbbell bench press

Weak points and variation

These variations can and should be used during different phases of the year:

  • Speed bench press
  • Bench press with chains
  • Bench press with bands
  • Speed bench press with chains
  • Speed bench press with bands
  • Close grip bench press
  • Bench press with wide grip
  • Incline bench press with steep incline
  • Incline bench press with medium incline
  • Incline bench press with shallow incline
  • Bench press on the reverse incline bench
  • Bench press with close neutral grip
  • Bench press with a wide neutral grip
  • Bench press with a thick bar (50 mm)


Many bodybuilders train bench presses once a week on their chest day with a high volume. Many powerlifters bench press twice a week - once with maximum weights and once with maximum power release.

This is a good starting point, but all bodybuilders and powerlifters should experiment with form, variations, frequency, volume and intensity to find what works best for them.

In general, most exercisers can get by with two sessions of bench press per week. . For hypertrophy, it might be ideal to focus on regular bench presses for one training session per week and close grip bench presses for another. For maximum strength, it might be ideal to focus on regular bench presses for one training session and board presses for another.

For hypertrophy purposes, we recommend a variety of repetition ranges from 3 x 10 to 10 x 3, from ascending to descending pyramid sets and from cluster sets to descending sets.

For maximum strength, we recommend staying under 5 repetitions and getting used to performing maximum single repetitions. It is crucial to use good exercise execution form to stay healthy in the long run, rotate exercise variations to avoid habituation and pattern overload, and continually increase the weight on the bar.

As for the numerous methods and variations we have described in this article, you should definitely not try to do everything at once. The trainee who ignores all the crazy methods and variations and focuses on straight sets of the standard bench press is usually much stronger than the trainee who tried every variation and method in the world. Choose a new focus every few weeks and rotate your focus regularly.

You should also focus your attention on strengthening the external rotators of your shoulders and the retractors of your shoulder blades for better structural balance. Exercises such as L-Flies(, band no-moneys(, external rotations on the cable pulley, face pulls, bent-over side raises for the posterior shoulder muscles with retraction of the shoulder blades, one-arm rowing, seated rowing, one-arm rowing on the cable pulley, supported chest rowing and inverse rowing are very important exercises that will help prevent negative posture and prevent future shoulder injuries.

In addition, push-ups, overhead presses and pulling exercises will help to keep the shoulder blades working correctly, which is important in the long run.

If you are trying to maximize the functional carry of the bench press and improve your athletic ability, then we recommend that you add JC Band Presses( to your current training program, which will strengthen your hips and core and allow for greater carry. This should be combined with explosive training such as medicine ball chest passes and plyometric push-ups to increase your explosive power and reactive strength.

Of course, strong legs and hips, which you can build through squats, deadlifts, hip thrusts and working with a weight sled, will also help you increase your horizontal pressing power and ensure that the transfer of the upper body press to other movements is not limited by weak points and energy leaks in the kinetic chain.

We hope you enjoyed the history lesson, literature review and practical tips. Now get to work.


By Bret Contreras, Sam Leahey

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