Building a bigger bench requires good technique, strength, and a good setup on the bench. When any of these three pieces of the puzzle is missing, your bench press numbers will suffer.
This is important because when you are able to bench press heavier weights, your upper body pressing strength increases and more muscle mass will be developed across the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
As with every strength training exercise, a good setup will improve your technique throughout the full execution of the lift, and ultimately determine, how much weight you can lift.
When setting up for the bench press, it is critical that you are able to drive your chest up and pull your shoulders back – and keep this position at all times during the lift – in order to press as much weight as possible. This “chest-up-shoulders-back” position will lock in the upper back tension, create a stable foundation to press from, and minimize the range of motion of the movement.
This can be a very difficult position to achieve because most guys are super tight in the upper back and lats. To unlock your upper body and help you setup better on the bench, try these two essential pre-bench press warm-up drills.
Thoracic Extension on a Foam Roller
To perform this drill, lay on your back across a foam roller. Anchor your hips on the floor and slowly extend your upper body over the foam roller, trying to keep your chin tucked and your head in line with your torso.
A common mistake that some guys make is when they extend their neck and not their upper body when performing this drill. Make sure the motion occurs at the upper body and not the neck.
Lat Stretches on the Power Cage
For this drill, you will stand a few feet away from the cage. Grab the bar with both hands while slowly driving your hips back – while keeping your torso as straight as possible – until your entire upper back is parallel to the floor. Your knees should be slightly bent and not locked out. Your head should be neutral and between your arms. Shift your hips side-to-side to find your tight spots and focus on these areas.
Perform both drills for 1-2 minutes each and focus on breathing slowly and deliberately to get deeper into the stretches. Incorporating push-ups in between each drill will give you a quick and easy warm-up prior to any bench session.
Jim Smith is a proud Dad and video game junkie. Smitty has been called “one of the most innovative coaches” in the fitness industry. If you’re serious about getting jacked, check out his FREE Mass Report to learn the top 10 proven techniques to get muscle faster.