Your bench press Sucks: 5 reasons why

Your bench Sucks: 5 reasons why

So, you’re not happy with your bench press because it sucks. Now, having a sucky bench press is relative. But, if you’re not happy with it, as most of us are not, this video and article might help you make some adjustments that might start turning the tides. NOTE: I’m not a great bencher, nor have I ever been. I have benched 800+ in multiple classes, but I’m far from the best. My goal is to help shed some light on a few things you might be missing in your approach.

You don’t have good cues for your bench press.

In 10/20/Life and Gift of Injury, I mention specific cues that I suggest one try for their bench press. But, the cues are not limited to the ones I mention. There is more than one way to skin the cat. But, if you feel lost, ensure you aren’t missing the basics. Lock your back in, bend the bar, and drive your heels without touching too low, but don’t touch too high, either. Flare your elbows, but not too much! Each cue will be personally dependent and highly adjustable.

You’re benching in the wrong shoes!

If you haven’t at least put a little thought into what shoe you should be benching in, then address it. Please keep it simple; you don’t need any specific shoe to bench in. But it should allow you to have good leg drive and not slide when trying to press lockout. Some lifters like specific shoes; I think a Van’s or a Chuck T. is fine. Find the shoe that works for you, and stick with it. A tip for your bench shoes: Keep the bottom clean and new, so they stick to the surface you’re benching on. Please don’t wear them out, and make them slick.

Bench press weaknesses

You’re not attacking your weak points in the bench press. Instead, do what you suck at, and make this your assistance work. Attacking weak points is not sexy or fun, but it’s required. That is – if you want to take your bench to the next level. So analyze your bench press, find the deficits and build them with your assistance. For example, try close grip bench presses, board presses, or even floor presses if you struggle with lockout. I give you several assistance exercises to choose from in 10/20/Life.


Bench press mentality

Your mentality matters. Unfortunately, I’ve never been extremely confident in the bench except for maybe a handful of times going into a meet. So, I can understand those that struggle with this. Build confidence in training, and practice the way you play. While competing, I got hurt the most during the bench press. This made me a bit gunshy during the last few years of competition. However, this is not an excuse and a great example of how being skittish can hold you back from achieving what you can physically due to mental weakness.

You’re loose!

Yes, you guessed it, you aren’t tight enough and have energy leakages during pressing. It might come from a bad handoff, or you’re crooked on the bench or equipped benching and having a tough time touching. Then, you end up rocking all over the place. But, no matter how you put it, you’re leaking energy everywhere and sapping your power to press big. So, lock your back in, and ensure that you have good cues that you practice and have your training partners remind you of. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been near lockout on the bench press and ever so slightly gotten loose in my shoulders or my hips, and it ruined the lift!

For those who would like a consult about your bench press or any lift, I offer Virtual and In-person consultations and virtual and in-person coaching to help you.

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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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