Quick Tip #3: 5 Things On The BENCH I Wish I Knew 17 Years Ago

By: Brian Carroll

I’m going to talk a little about 5 bench tips that I would have benefited from 17 years ago, while training at the local Powerhouse gym.
Like the saying goes, “it’s the little things” that make the biggest difference in just about anything and everything we do.

1. Do not raise your ass off the bench like we all did lifting for High School Football to gain another 30lb. Instead, set your feet to drive your hips, not your ass. Your ass should ‘flex’, but not raise and break contact with the bench. See video at the end for a better explanation.

2. Take the bar with your lats, your elbows in, and bend the bar. I know you cannot literally bend the bar; that is a cue for what you should feel like with the bar in your hands. The way you lower and touch the bar to your chest is personal preference. Play with as much tuck or flare as much as you need. You have to be tight and stay tight. Lock in your back before you take the bar, not after.

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3. Don’t bounce the bar off your chest. This doesn’t do anything good for you and can cause injury. Instead, consider a light touch and go, stopping about 1”above your chest, or a competition pause (motionless, then pressing to lockout, not rest and press – motionless; staying tight is the key). These will not only help your bench power, but will also minimize the risk.

4. Keep your head and upper back glued to the bench, and heels down. Raising your head can be useful at times, but as a rule of thumb, most people flatten out once they watch the bar. Focus on a spot on the ceiling and don’t move it. As soon as it’s time to press, drive your heels through the floor. This helps with the first tip as well.

5. Play with your grip width. Experiment and see what is best for your leverages. Some bench best closer, some wider, it all depends on what works best for you and helps you get stronger. Start somewhere in the middle and adjust based on results. Make sure to program your assistance work using different grips than your competition width using close, wide, Swiss Bar, Fat Gripz, etc.


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Brian Carroll

Brian is a world-class powerlifter with over two decades of elite and pro-level powerlifting under his belt. Coming back from a devastating back injury in 2012 that broke multiple bones and that most experts said he would never recover from, he has returned to the pinnacle of world-class lifting (while 100% pain and symptom-free) and is now dedicated to helping others avoid the same mistakes that he made in the past through private and group coaching in Jacksonville, FL. Brian’s impressive recovery has given him the opportunity to teach and deliver talks to physical therapists, chiropractors, medical doctors, professional strength & conditioning coaches and experts from all facets of sport, on how to avoid injury, while building anti-fragile strength and resilience in athletes.
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