How to Bench for Function

The bar descends to your chest as you lie on a bench and you begin to press it off. The weight is extremely heavy and as you press you try to do everything you can to get it up. Your head kicks to one side, one foot comes off the ground, an elbow angles wildly out to the side of your body, and your back lifts high off the bench.

You look like cockeyed spider trying to press the weight. Then, finally, the lift comes to an end with your spotter saving you by grabbing the weight.

Good rep?….

This type of bench press form is all too common with athletes. Often the objective is to lift the weight any way possible. This is somewhat encouraged by the competitive world of power lifting. Because the goal is solely to lift the most these athletes purposefully lift their lower backs off the bench to shorten the range of motion. This method inevitably creates a large arch in the athlete’s spine.

For our athletes the goal isn’t to simply see how much you can bench press. The goal is to build pressing strength and stability. Sometimes we do this by using the bench press. Arching the back in a power lifting manner is the opposite of creating stability though. This is why when we coach the bench press we encourage you to press your lower back into the bench as hard as you can. You should breathe into your belly pressing through the pad to create as much tension as possible. Then radiate that tension throughout your body for the press.

Unlike the athlete I described at the beginning be sure to keep your feet screwed into the floor and your elbows at a 45° angle away from your body. With these pieces all dialed in you will be able to bench safely and build strength that will apply to any sport.

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