The bench press is one of the more complex powerlifting movements. It requires both a high level of strength, and a high level of precision to press max effort poundages safely and successfully. As you continue to train the bench press, you will eventually run into issues either with form, or with muscular weakness. When this occurs, it is imperative that you have a basic understanding of what can immediately be done to get your bench moving in the right direction again. Below, we will cover a few common spots people experience issues with in the bench press, and provide a few solutions you can take to correct them.
Missing Immediately Off of the Chest
A bench press missed immediately off of the chest typically happens for two reasons; A loss of posture resulting in arch loss and scapula protraction, or a muscular weakness in the upper back, or shoulders. If the issue is form related, the solution is obvious, drill technique more frequently. If the issue is strength related, the issue can be solved quickly by adding a few exercises into your programming immediately. First, you want to build your upper back and posterior shoulders up through the use of heavy rows, face pulls, and pullovers. Next, you will want to strengthen the anterior shoulder, this can be done by performing front dumbbell raises, front plate raises, overhead press with barbell or dumbbells, and dumbbell bench press.
Missing Half way
When you miss a bench
at the halfway point, you’re either flaring your arms too much causing the burden of the weight to be placed onto the anterior shoulders and pecs, or you have weaknesses in your shoulders, biceps, and triceps causing your arms to flare when the burden of the weight is transferred to them. When you are halfway through the press, the weight transfers from the upper back and anterior shoulders, to the anterior shoulders and arms.
If your shoulders and arms are strong, this transfer happens without any changes in form. If you have weak arms, this will result in excessive arm flare. To correct this, you will want to focus especially on the biceps and triceps, using movements of all types to hammer these muscle groups. Some exercises we use at Westside on a consistent basis to strengthen our arms include rolling dumbbell tricep extensions, skullcrushers, cable pressdowns, banded pressdowns, hammer curls, dumbbell curls, and pull-ups.
Missing at Lock Out
One of the most frustrating ways to miss a bench is at the lock out point. This issue is usually a strength issue, with the triceps, upper back, and posterior shoulder being the muscle groups being the usual culprit. To correct these weaknesses, you can use the accessory exercises mentioned in the above paragraphs. You can also do some lock out specific work, such as board presses and pin presses.
When it comes to correcting weaknesses, all it takes is the ability to identify what is happening during your lift, and coming up with programming schemes to attack those issues. The strategies listed above will help correct practically any issue you have with the bench press that is non-injury related. Two things to keep in mind when you are training the bench press; You can never have strong enough arms, and you can never have a strong enough back.