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Question: "I would like to increase my strength at the bench press… what would you recommend?"
A. Address speed and strength. Strength can be trained using Brad Gillingham's bench program on his web site (Jackal's Gym). Speed can be trained with bands or chains on the bar using light percentages 40-60%) with low reps (3 per set) for 5-10 sets.
B. Get stronger triceps - use pushdowns, extensions, dips, board presses, etc. Check the following web sites for specific exercises for this: www.elitefts.com, www.westside-barbell.com, www.startingstrength.com.
C. Get your back stronger - use barbell and dumbbell rows, inverted pull-ups, pull-ups, pulldowns, etc.
D. Improve your technique:
- Arch your lower back and keep your upper back tight
- Keep the bar over your wrists (not your fingers)
- Squeeze the bar and try to pull it apart as you press
- Draw a lot of air into your stomach (keeping core tight), drive your legs into the ground and your head and upper back into the bench
- Push the bar in a straight line
- Keep your elbows tucked (not flared out to the sides).
The web sites listed above can give you videos of in-depth technique instruction on the bench press.
-Bryan Dermody powerlifter