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

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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