4 Tips To Improve Your Bench Press Contraction
The bench press is known for it's versatility but are you really reaching optimum results when benching.
These bench pressing tips will help you attain a better contraction and focus helping you give your muscle fibres a workout to increase your strength.
1 SLOW DOWN - CONTROL THE TEMPO
When performing your bench press, in the lowering process (negative) slow this down to a 2-4 count and hold for 1 second when down. This tempo will ensure your controlling the weight against gravity, ensuring you are contracting your muscles through out the entire rep, instead of only contracting them on the positive and relaxing on the negative. This tempo can also be used for other exercises. Play around with different tempos and focus on contracting the muscle as long and hard as possible.
2 Get your base right
A solid base is the foundation of the bench press. There are two main ways to set your base - 1) Have both feet symmetrically planted on the floor, you want to be solid. 2) Have your feet crossed and legs raised off the floor - this is a more plyometric style and can work well with taking strain off the back as well as targeting the core and surrounding pec area, generally most people can't perform as much weight with this technique as your base isn't quite as solid.
3 GRIP AND TECHNIQUE
Holding the bar with confidence and really feeling it helps you to focus on each rep, contract your chest muscles with purpose and intention. Changing your bench press grip can also work different muscles. Having your grip wider apart will work the pectoral muscles more than if you have them closer together which will put the focus more onto your triceps. Make sure your grip is correct and note whereabouts on the bar your hands are for future bench pressing. Everyone is different and finding the placement that helps you contract the chest muscles the best is the one to go for. Be sure to always mix it up for the best of all worlds.
4 PRACTICE - R,R,R
Repetitions, Repetitions, Repetitions. The gym is quite a unique place where people *think* or *pretend* that they can do all the exercises perfectly - why? - I don't know... If you train chest once a week and do 3 sets on bench... that is only 50 reps max (including warm up) per week. Is that really enough "practice" to perfect the bench press? I don't think so. You wouldn't expect a tennis player to serve aces after only that much practice or a baseball player to hit home runs with that amount of practice. Other sportsmen and women practice their repetitions thousands and thousands of times per week, so you should too!
Instead of a normal chest routine - how about spending 1 day every few weeks to bench for 45 - 60 minutes? Use a comfortable weight and avoid going to failure and just PRACTICE. Try out everything and learn the feel, motion, tempo, grip. Get your mind so focused that you know the bench inside out through practice and not reading.