I believe the fitness community is trying to assassinate the beloved Bench Press! With all the functional movement programs and initiatives out the standard bench press is “obsolete”! Well I am here to not only revive it but to tell you how to improve it! Going back to one of my favorite books; Starting Strength written by a fitness legend Mark Rippetoe, the bench press is crucial to gaining strength along with pull ups, squats, and dead lifts. So here are 7 tips to help you maximiaze your efforts to make gains on your bench press.

Tip #1: Plant Your Feet And Puff Out Your Chest
Lie down on the bench and plant your feet like you mean it. Then force your chest out to the max. To achieve this you want to grab the uprights of the bench as you’re lying down and perform a pullover of sorts so there is an arch in your lower back.
Squeeze your shoulder blades together as hard as you can. Imagine you’re pinching a quarter together with them. And simultaneously push your shoulders down towards your feet.

Tip #2: Hold Your Breath and Brace Yourself For Tension
Take a deep breath and brace yourself like you’re about to take a punch to the gut. This insures that you’re keeping your whole body tight and forcing your muscles to have maximal tension. Also the intra-abdominal pressure will give you more strength and protect your back. Plus, it’s useless to try to breathe when there’s a loaded barbell sitting on your chest.

Tip #3: Pull the Bar Down With Your Latsbench-press_0
Flex your pecs hard at the start of the movement and focus on pulling the bar down to your sternum with your LATS. This will ensure you’re keeping your shoulder blades together and making your pecs do the majority of the work.

Tip #4: Try To Meet The Bar With Your Chest
Keep puffing your chest out and imagine you are trying to touch the bar, meet it halfway with your chest as you’re pulling it down with your lats. Continue pulling down until the bar touches your chest. Pause for a moment in this position

Tip #5: Do NOT Relax, Stay Tight and Blast Off
Keep the tension in your body, stay tight, and get ready to push. What you do is squeeze the bar off your chest, trying to move it as fast as you can while retaining full-body tension for maximum strength. Push the bar like you’re doing a decline press down towards your feet to protect your shoulders. Imagine you are pushing yourself away from the bar, you’ll know you’re doing it right when you feel your upper back is tight

Tip #6: Use Max Tension Techniques At Your Sticking Point
When the rep gets hard and you’re hitting your sticking point, here’s what you do:
1. Grip the bar as hard as you can
2. At the same time, Flex your Abs and glutes and grunt
3. Imagine you’re sending energy from your core, your stomach into your arms
And GRIND it, keep pushing away from the bar, keeping maximum tension.

Tip #7: Before Your Next Rep, Re-check Your Form
Before you go for your next rep, recheck to make sure:
• Your feet are still planted
• Your shoulder blades are still pinched together
• Take a breath and then hold it again to get your intra-abdominal pressure up again…

Written By Terrence Howard