10/20/Life: Fixing Your Bench

Today, I’m going to break down a bench press and a deadlift. We’ll start your morning out with this bench press coaching session, then move to the deadlift this afternoon.

Remember two things here:

1. The entire philosophy of 10/20/Life is predicated on assessing your weak points, then turning them into strengths.

2. 10/20/Life will show you precisely how to do this, with my Assistance Work and Weak Point Indexes.

APPROACH: You’ve obviously had some good coaching, along with some definite under-the-bar experience. You’re really tight and locked in here. I like it.

FORM: Your technique looks pretty solid from top to bottom, but here are a few things I would do:

  1. Try not to “flatten out” when you touch your chest.
  2. Stay tall, keep your hips up, and drive your heels—even when you’re not actually pressing.
  3. One thing you can do to get your back more involved would be to tuck a little bit on the way down, tuck at the start of the press, then flare after that. I think you would get more drive that way.

WEAK POINTS: Nothing glaring jumps out at me here, although if you address your triceps and upper back more, I think that could get you up over 400 pounds. More leg drive, and “staying tall”—as described above—would help, too. You also need to work on getting quicker and being more explosive.

FIX: Along with the cues above, here are a few exercises to add to your routine. Add the back work on deadlift day, and you can do your triceps work on either your bench day or your 10/20/Life “fluff and buff” day—or both. Core work can be done at any time.

McGill Pull-ups: 6-12 singles (this will show you how to get faster).

Speed Work on Bench: 5-6 singles, on a deload or secondary day.

Barbell Rows: 3×6 (heavy)

Close-Grip Board Presses (3-Board): 3 sets of 4-6

Full-Range Reverse Band Bench Press: This will make you a little bit faster from your transition to lockout. Work these in on a normal 10/20/Life day in either your offseason or pre-contest work. Just use the bands for your entire day to overload your bench press.

Get The 10/20/Life Ebook HERE!

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Brian Carroll

Owner and Founder at PowerRackStrength.com
Brian is a retired world-class powerlifter with over two decades of world-class powerlifting. From 1999 to 2020, Brian Carroll was a competitive powerlifter, one of the most accomplished lifters in the sport's history. Brian started off competing in bench press competitions 'raw,' then, shortly into the journey, he gravitated toward equipped lifting as there were no "raw" categories then. You only had to choose from single-ply (USPF) and Multi-ply (APF/WPC). Brian went on to total 2730 at 275 and 2651 at 242 with more than ten times his body weight in three different classes (220, 242, 275), and both bench pressed and deadlifted over 800 pounds in two other weight classes. He's totaled 2600 over 20 times in 2 different weight classes in his career. With 60 squats of 1000lbs or more officially, this is the most in powerlifting history, regardless of weight class or federation, by anyone not named David Hoff. Brian realized many ups and downs during his 20+ years competing. After ten years of high-level powerlifting competition and an all-time World Record squat at 220 with 1030, in 2009, Brian was competing for a Police academy scholarship. On a hot and humid July morning, Brian, hurdling over a barricade at 275lbs, landed on, fell, and hurt his back. After years of back pain and failed therapy, Brian met with world-renowned back specialist Prof McGill in 2013, which changed his trajectory more than he could have imagined. In 2017, Brian Carroll and Prof McGill authored the best-selling book about Brian's triumphant comeback to powerlifting in Gift of Injury. Most recently (10.3.20) -Brian set the highest squat of all time (regardless of weight class) with 1306 lbs – being the first man to break the 1300lb squat barrier at a bodyweight of 303 lbs.
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