How to improve your bench press – an algorithm

  1. Why do you want to improve your benching?
    1. Because I’m a powerlifter (go to 2)
    2. Because I’m a competitive athlete from another sport (go to 7)
    3. Because I want to look better (go to 8)
    4. Because it’s fun (go to 9)
  2. Did you stagnate?
    1. No, I just want to see if you got something I don’t know yet (go to 3)
    2. Yes (go to 4)
  3. Continue doing what you’re doing because whatever it is, it’s working. Here’s something that might be cool for you: a lot of stuff works. Actually, most really good programs work. Whatever is working for you is the best for you at this point. Changing programs while you are still making good progress is actually a step back: however awesome the new program is, it will take time for you to master it, time you would be doing progress if you stayed on the old one. Anyway:
    1. Keep reading and collecting stuff because one day you will stagnate
    2. Keep track of your progress so you can actually detect when you stagnate
  4. Oh, bummer. We need to know why and how it happened in order to fix this. You might have screwed up on the periodization, on the technique or both. Technique is easier to detect. Videotape yourself and analyze the video. Check (and go to 5):
    1. The grip (too wide? Too narrow?)
    2. Shoulder blades, lat stabilization, shoulders (stable on the bench?)
    3. Butt and legs (hard, stable, legs as back as possible?)
    4. Eccentric phase (controlled or free fall?)
    5. Chest stop (hard or flabby?)
    6. Concentric phase (elbows in or out to compensate loss of control of the weight? Shoulder blades adducted or loose? )
  5. Once you identified what was wrong, work on that with the resources abundantly available from great coaches and athletes all around (or wait until I post about it). If you’re unable to detect what’s wrong, send the video to someone who can. If there is nothing notably wrong with your technique, then go to 6.
  6. There’s probably something wrong with either your periodization or your routine composition.
  7. Then we need to know which sport it is. Powerlifting is a highly sophisticated and technical sport in itself, but it provides the basis of all training to any sport. With our three lifts and their assessory work, we can basically help you in any direction. All that said, focus on your shoulder blades, glutes and control your eccentric phase until we provide something more specific.
  8. No one looks better without being stronger. Learn the basics for good, old, sound powerlifting benching – there is no other benching, anything you hear about “bodybuilding style benching” is NOT benching.
  9. Go to 2: you are a powerlifter, only you don’t know it yet.