The Mindset Behind a Great Bench Press by Vincent Dizenzo
What does everyone want? A bigger bench press, of course! Let’s face it, people don’t walk up to you and ask, “So what do you curl?” Everyone wants to know how much you can bench. Well, I can bench press a lot, and I am going to share some tips with you. You don’t have to change your training program; no extra meals or supplements will be necessary. You just need to use your head.
When I perform the bench press, I go through a mental inventory. If I miss a lift, it’s rarely because I was not strong enough. It is because I had a break in my form. I use this mental inventory to minimize the chances of that happening.
Upon lying on the bench, I grab the bar and drive my shoulders back into the bench pad. The tighter and more uncomfortable I can feel with this, the better. Then I start with my feet. I lift my big toes up in my shoes. I force my knees out, squeeze my glutes, and push up on my hips. I want my posterior chain to be as tight as it can be to assist in the press. Yes, your legs assist in the bench press! The more you learn how to use them, the more you will be able to press.
Moving into the upper body, I arch my low back and push up on my stomach as much as possible. This reduces the range of motion for the press. Then I tighten my lats, squeeze my shoulder blades together, and roll them under into my back. I grab the rings on the bar using my index fingers and grip the bar as tightly as I can. Lastly, I turn my elbows in as I lower the bar. By doing this, I use my lats in the descent.
OK, now I am ready to take the weight. I count one, two…and where three would be, I inhale and take the biggest breath I can. As soon as the breath is inhaled, I extend the weight over my chest just like in a tricep extension. Notice, I did not say push the weight up. I am very tight and tucked on the bench, I do not want to lose the perfect pressing position I just fought to get into. When the weight gets over my chest, not my neck, I am ready to begin. I lower the bar in a controlled manner until it is motionless on my sternum. At that point, I harness all of my energy to explode through my heels, up through my posterior chain, into my lats, and push as hard as I can from under my elbows. As the weight rockets off my sternum, I drive the bar back over my face. When the weight gets close to lockout, I flare my elbows into a locked position. Once the bar is locked and under control, I throw it back into the rack and then finally exhale.
In competitions, this inventory has helped me achieve a 600 pound raw bench and an 800 pound equipped bench. Now, not everyone wants to compete in powerlifting, but if you’re in the gym, chances are you want a bigger bench. Start using a mental inventory with your bench and you will start achieving greater results. Your inventory does not have to be as elaborate as mine. Start with a few tips and master them. You’ll perfect things as you go along.
This is lifting with your head.