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Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net
Explode Your Bench
What Every Strength Athlete Should Know About The World’s Most Popular Weight Training Exercise
By Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman ©2011, All Rights Reserved
Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net
Notice To Those Who Are Thinking Of Abusing This Book (Or in other words… “Who wants to get sued or go to jail?”) This book is copyright 2011 with all rights reserved. It is illegal to copy, distribute, or create derivative works from this book in whole or in part or to contribute to the copying, distribution, or creating of derivative works of this book. If you attempt to copy, steal, or distribute all or any part of my book without permission, I will have my solicitor contact you and make you wish that you’d never had such an idea in your life. You can count on this. I am a man of my word. By purchasing this book, you agree to the following: You understand that the information contained in this book is an opinion, and it should be used for personal entertainment purposes only. You are responsible for your own behaviour, and none of this book is to be considered legal or personal advice. I expect you to abide by these rules. I have people who spend a lot of time searching the Internet for people who violate my copyrights. Now that we’re finished with this notice, let’s discover how to “Explode Your Bench”…
Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011, All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.net
Benching Equipped (for Powerlifters) 5. Bodybuilders and Raw Powerlifters) 4. A Word On Technique 11. Introduction 2. Bench Press Raw (for Athletes. Coming Up 9. Setting-Up 6. About The Authors Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011.4 Table of Contents: 1. Andy’s Bench Press 3. Mind-Set 12. Going Down 8. Racking the Bar 10. All Rights Reserved www. Un-Racking The Bar 7.andyboltonstrength.net .
The all-time record. a loss of power and people thinking they are much stronger on the lift then they really are. The downside to these mistakes are many. one of the three official Powerlifts (along with the Squat and the Deadlift). before we get into the technique details that this book is all about. The all-time Bench Press record in the 181 pound class is 750 pounds (340kg) by Jason Fry. Three men have benched over 1000lbs (455kg) in competition. Introduction The Bench Press is the most famous and popular weight training exercise in the world and is. The Bench Press involves laying on a Bench. with some of the most common being a massively increased injury risk. This was done with the aid of a Bench Shirt (supportive equipment that helps competitors in Powerlifting meets lift more weight) and boggles the mind. However. Talking of strength.net . performed in gyms all over the world. at some time or another every man is likely to have been asked the question.5 1. what can ya Bench?” Well. regardless of weight class is 1075lbs (488kg) by Ryan Kennelly in the 308 pound (140kg) weight class.5 to 13 stone or around 180 pounds. if you improve your Bench Press technique your answer to that question will rise. of course. Such is the prevalence of people performing the Bench Press. This sounds fairly straight forwards. However.andyboltonstrength. This kind of strength Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. what kind of numbers are the best strength athletes in the world putting up in competition on the Bench Press? Well. one thing is for sure. All Rights Reserved www. the majority of gym goers manage to make a real mess of this and we see all kinds of mistakes. un-racking a bar. the average man weighs around 12. let’s have a look at the Bench Press in more detail. “So. lowering it to ones chest and pressing it back to the start position.
the Bench Press is not to be ignored. Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. who has Bench Pressed over 500lbs (227. Ronnie Coleman. Check out Laura Phelps-Sweat. All Rights Reserved www. (He Squatted 220kg and Deadlifted 260kg the first time he ever touched a bar). monstrous numbers are still being put up. think again.6 is outstanding and similar in terms of achievement to Andy’s Deadlift numbers. However. Bill Kazmaier. Scott is also one of the three guys who have benched over 1000lbs. (His long arms account for much of this). once owned the Bench Press world record at 661lbs (300kg). Scott Mendolson has the all-time raw record of 715lbs (325kg).net .5kg) in competition. It’s not just Powerlifters who like to lift big on the Bench Press. Legendary Strongman. However. It’s just not going to happen. And all time Bodybuilding great. on one of his Training DVD’s.5kg) Bench in competition.andyboltonstrength. can be seen benching 220kg for 5 reps (with relative ease). The Squat and Deadlift have always come very easily to him. Without the aid of a Bench Shirt. weighing just 165lbs bodyweight! Andy’s own Bench Press has always been something of a weak point. Not so coincidentally. especially as Andy relentlessly pursues the all-time total and the magical 3000lbs barrier. a much more modest 70kg (the first time he ever Bench Pressed) shows how much less gifted Andy is for the Bench Press than the Squat and Deadlift. So for anyone reading out there who thinks that “it’s just the shirt doing the lifting”. There are women out there putting up pretty fearsome numbers on everybody’s favourite lift too. You cannot lift world class numbers in a shirt and have a lousy Raw Bench. To do this he needs a good Bench Press and in the past year he has made outstanding progress on this lift and is rapidly heading towards an 800lbs (362.
by Powerlifters. Most people. But what muscles does the Bench Press use? If the Bench Press is performed with good technique. This is misguided and this illogical thinking can lead to poor technique and a high injury risk. In this test. athletes are asked to perform as many reps as possible with 225lbs (100kg). Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. The main test of Upper body strength and conditioning is the Bench press. especially those using the lift for aesthetic purposes. may think that the Bench Press is just a chest exercise. regardless of whether or not you are aiming for your first bodyweight bench press or your first 500lbs bench press. It is not un-common to see the best guys do in excess of 40 reps with this weight! So the Bench Press is known and practised throughout the world. as we will explain and demonstrate in this book. Outside of Powerlifting the Bench Press is held in high regard by many athletes and associations to do with many different sports.net . All Rights Reserved www.7 Andy would like to give thanks to Bill Crawford of Metal Militia for taking his understanding of technique and programming to another level and allowing him to make such rapid progress in recent months. Perhaps the most famous use of the Bench Press in professional sports (outside of Powerlifting) is seen in American Football. We hope to pass some of this new found knowledge (as well as that collected through 20 years of hard training) onto you in this book and hopefully you will then use it to help you reach your goals faster.andyboltonstrength. professional athletes and weekend gym warriors alike. then the lift is truly a total body lift. At the NFL combine all athletes hopeful of landing a multi-million dollar contracts with a top team are asked to perform many physical tasks to prove their worthiness.
So. However.net . This may require a change in thinking for some of you reading this and the technique we describe in this book may challenge your beliefs. practise what you learn here and watch your Bench Press strength and your physique improve dramatically. All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength. our challenge to you is to read with an open mind. Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011.8 A well performed Bench Press uses the pecs. anterior (front) delts and triceps as the prime movers. the entire back and legs are also important if you wish to maximise your Bench Press numbers.
November 2001. WPC. 155kg. Weight Category.November 2000. Competed In Strongman Not Powerlifting . Multi Ply Bench Shirt .June 1991. 110kg Class. BAWLA. WPC.1994 to 1999.November 1993.November 1992.March 1991. BAWLA. 165kg.andyboltonstrength.June 1992. 245kg. Andy’s Bench Press Andy’s Bench Press History (Month and Year. Multi Ply Bench Shirt Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011.January 1988. Single Ply Bench Shirt . 250kg. BPF. Raw . 125kg Class. Raw. 140kg Class. WPC. Powerlifting Federation. First ever competitive Bench Press .June 2001. 100kg Class. Raw . 70kg. Single Ply Bench Shirt . 110kg Class. Equipment used.5kg. 140kg Class. WPC. Weight Lifted. 140kg Class.net . 18 Years Old . 260kg. Additional information if applicable) . Single Ply Bench Shirt . Multi Ply Bench Shirt . BAWLA. 207. 125kg Class.January 1991. 110kg Bodyweight. BPC. 190kg. 220kg. 150kg. 140kg Class.9 2. All Rights Reserved www.
300kg. SHW. 330kg.andyboltonstrength.5kg. Multi Ply Bench Shirt. Multi Ply Bench Shirt. SHW. 290kg. Multi Ply Bench Shirt . SHW. SHW. SHW.net .March 2007. (551. WPO. Multi Ply Bench Shirt . Multi Ply Bench Shirt. SHW. Multi Ply Bench Shirt March 2003.10 .March 2005.November 2008. Multi Ply Bench Shirt . 305kg. WPO Qualifier. All Time British Record Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. SHW. 290kg. SHW.March 2011. 280kg.305. All Rights Reserved www. First 600lbs Bench . Multi Ply Bench Shirt .November 2002. SHW. 342. SHW.July 2009. BPC. 272.417 = 1273kg/2806lbs All Time Total Record) .October 2010.5kg.5kg. 267.5kg. Multi Ply Bench Shirt. Multi Ply Bench Shirt . WPO. GPC.March 2004. WPC. 312. Bull Farm Pro Show. WPO Arnold Classic. First Bench Over 700lbs . WPO Semi-Final. WPO Arnold Classic.November 2006.
andyboltonstrength. (lower chest) for most athletes. You may feel that when you compete in your sport you cannot wear wrist wraps and you therefore want your wrists to get as strong as possible when you are in the weight room performing exercises like the Bench Press. A Raw Bench Press may be performed in just your gym kit. As an athlete competing in another sport it is up to you. The only people using a Bench Shirt will be competitive Powerlifters who compete in equipped federations. As a Powerlifter you probably should (nearly all Raw federations allow the use of wrist wraps). Wrist wraps go around the wrist and keep the joint tight. Bench Pressing Raw When we refer to a Raw Bench Press we mean performing the lift without the use of a Bench Press Shirt. you may feel that you want to protect your wrists as much as possible and therefore use the wrist wraps.11 3. Whether or not you use wrist wraps on your Raw Bench Presses is personal preference. In this case you may choose to disregard the use of wrist wraps. If the bar touches the chest at the Clavicle (upper chest) you will put excessive strain on the shoulders and lift less weight. This can help to reduce wear and tear on the joint and the increased stabilisation should help you to handle heavier loads better than without their use. This is how 99% of you reading this will be performing your Bench Presses. The Raw Bench Press will see a touching point around the sternum. or with the aid of a weightlifting belt and/or wrist wraps. Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. You must way up the pros and cons and decide for yourself.net . All Rights Reserved www. Or.
The best guys in the world can get around 300lbs (140kg) from their shirts. They also do not allow their competitors to touch the bar to the belly on the way down. Benching Equipped (for Powerlifters) As any Powerlifter who has competed Equipped knows. Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. In federations like the WPC. This means the shirt is comprised of 12 layers of fabric in that area. it is not possible to guess what kind of carryover you will get. Bench Pressing in a shirt is a very different proposition than Bench Pressing Raw. worn by the biggest and strongest lifters can be up to 12 ply in certain areas (such as around the collar). However.net . Some athletes. All Rights Reserved www. but are harder to use. For example. can see huge carryovers from wearing their Bench shirts. the IPF only allow single ply shirts (or 1 layer of material thick). Some shirts. What kind of shirt you wear comes down to personal preference and what federation you compete in.andyboltonstrength. Inzer and Metal being two of the biggest out there. Regardless of what shirt you wear. usually the ones who are most suited to the Bench Press. there will be a learning curve and some people will get used to wearing the shirt much faster than others. For clarification of this fact just check out Scott Mendolson’s Raw Bench Press of just over 700lbs and his equipped Bench Press of over 1000lbs. In contrast. This will influence what kind of shirt an athlete competing in the IPF can wear. Until you put a shirt on and learn to use it. smaller lifters and those who don’t fall in love with their Bench shirts quite so easily may see much smaller carryover’s of 10% or maybe only 5 to 10kg.12 4. the WPC allow any kind of Bench Press shirt. Bench Press shirts are manufactured by many companies these days. Shirts like these give more carryover.
Other than that the next best advice we can give is not to start off with a shirt that is stronger than you or too tight for you as both these things will lead to problems. as opposed to the lower chest. If you want to compete equipped then study your federations rule book to make sure you buy a shirt that conforms to the rules. All Rights Reserved www.13 lifters can usually touch as low as they like and this means you will often see athletes touching the belly. Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. Bench Pressing Equipped takes time to learn and experimentation with different sizes and styles of shirt to find one that works for you. This is not advisable raw and is not allowed in federations like the IPF.net .andyboltonstrength.
setting up a big key to success. if you have a poor set up you are likely to struggle the whole way through the movement and you will be making compensations all the time. A good set up on the Bench Press involves being stable and tight. Yet. An excellent training program for an intermediate athlete could see him or her add 2% to their Bench Press for 3 months on the trot. However. it can be one of the fastest ways to help eliminate any pains you have and make your Bench Press numbers go up. If you get this right you are paving the way for correct execution of the movement. There will be three points of contact between you and the bench and you and the floor. Setting up The set-up is the most important part of the Bench Press. Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. your Glutes (on the Bench) and your feet (on the floor). Two things you definitely do not want! The issue of setting up correctly is often overlooked. Tiger Woods does not place his feet in just any old position before attempting to drive the Golf ball 300 yards. These points of contact are your upper back (on the bench). if you pay attention to your set up. So pay attention to this chapter very carefully. And Roger Federer does not stand in just any old spot before attempting to serve an ace past his opponent. technical improvements can see much greater increases in the same time frame.net . All Rights Reserved www. However. This will increase the risk of injury and almost definitely result in a loss of power. It is the most important part of nearly all technical sporting movements. Setting up correctly is not just the most important part of the Bench Press. both by novice trainees and more advanced athletes alike. So pay attention to your set up.andyboltonstrength.14 5. In all sports.
net .Head Position Your head should be placed so that when the bar is in the rack.15 . Firstly.Upper Back Position The upper back must be as tight as possible when performing your Bench Presses. This means that during the performance of the Bench Press you are likely to hit the rack. try this simple drill with a Jump Stretch Band. In order to assume this position. you must force your shoulders back and down and your chest out. Before un-racking the bar you should feel uncomfortable tightness in your upper back.andyboltonstrength. when you un-rack the bar it will be too close to the stands. And if you do this is training you will lose a whole lot of power. All Rights Reserved www. . To understand the level of tightness we are talking about. So position the head correctly. Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. If your head is too far back on the bench then two potential problems can arise. If you do this on the way down or the way up you will fail the movement in a Powerlifting meet. your head will be off the bench and not supported. Take a mini band or light band and stand tall with the band in your hands at the same width as you bench at and in line with your lower chest. Anything less and you are not trying hard enough. Now pull the band apart by spreading your hands out to your sides and forcing your shoulders back and down. This is a terrible position as an injury to the neck could arise. Secondly. your eyes are directly under the bar or just behind it. The tightness you now feel in your upper back is exactly what you want to re-create when you set up for your Bench Press.
And secondly. All Rights Reserved www. it creates a very stable position from which to press. it makes your range of motion as short as possible. Firstly.16 Band Pull-aparts: Start Position Band Pull-aparts: Mid Way Position The reason for getting the upper back tight and forcing the chest out is twofold. Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. After your training sessions. For Mobility Drills we highly recommend any of the Warm up/Mobility DVD programs by Eric Cressey. (The shorter the Range of Motion.andyboltonstrength. Certain individuals may have problems assuming this position. If this applies to you then try foam rolling your upper back and pecs and doing some upper body mobility drills prior to Benching. Mike Robertson and Bill Hartman. lats and triceps. Over time your posture should improve and your ability to get your shoulders back and down and your upper back tight will get better.net . Likely candidates are those with poor posture (think Neanderthal man). perform some static stretching for your pecs. the more weight you should be able to lift). delts.
Take note of how hard your biceps become.Abs. Now try the simple test again and this time squeeze your fists as hard as possible whilst flexing Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011.net .Grip If you are Benching Raw you want to grip the bar so that when the bar is on your chest your forearms are perpendicular to the floor. Lower Back and Glutes The Abs must be tight when performing the Bench Press. To prove this to yourself. then the muscles around it will tense as hard as possible as well. please perform the following exercise (first brought to our attention by Pavel Tsatsouline in his book Power to the People).17 . If you are Benching in a shirt you will want a wider grip. All Rights Reserved www. It will take some experimenting to find this position and a good starting point is to try your pinky fingers on the ring. Regardless of whether you are Benching Raw or Equipped. Or put differently. The Shirt will offer protection to the pecs and thereby allow you to do this and at the same time you will benefit from a shorter range of motion and you will be able to touch the bar to your chest easier. The Law of Irradiation basically states that if you tense a muscle as hard as possible. do not use a thumb less grip. If you grip the bar too wide you will involve the Pecs too much and risk injury to them. grip with bar with your thumbs around the bar. whilst also increasing the Range of Motion. If you grip the bar too narrow you will involve the triceps at the expense of the pecs.andyboltonstrength. . So it pays to play around and find the right grip for you. Try tensing your biceps with your hands and forearms relaxed.
Glute Bridge: Start Position Glute Bridge: Mid-way Position Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. Your Glutes will be in contact with the Bench (and will remain so during your entire set of Bench Presses). Do not suck your abs in. do what you would do if somebody was going to punch you in the gut. brace them or push your belly out against your belt if you are wearing one.andyboltonstrength. is the simple Glute Bridge. Rather. Note how much harder you are now able to flex your biceps! Now let’s get back to the abs. The Glutes must not be relaxed.net . like the upper back. The abs are at the centre of the body so it is extremely important that they remain tight and braced throughout the execution of your Bench Presses and of course. must be flexed and tight. then an excellent drill to include in your warm ups. Do 2 sets of 12 reps before every session and you will soon learn how to flex those Glutes as hard as possible. but rather.18 your biceps. To brace the abs. All Rights Reserved www. (prior to performing your bench presses). If you have issues flexing your Glutes. in your set up. You will not go far wrong if you follow your instinct on this one.
the Glutes are tight and the abs braced. Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. As with anything in sport. Look to Japanese lifters for examples of this. Do not take your warm up sets for granted. You can either have your feet flat or be up on the balls of your feet. Think of forcing your tail bone towards your shoulders in order to achieve this. Either way. This is the correct position to be in. If you are set up as described so far. then your torso is in a good position to Bench from. Some people have naturally very flexible spines and can achieve a very good arch straight away. Both methods have pros and cons. then you will find that you lower back is not touching the bench.19 In order to achieve the best arch you possibly can and thereby make your range of motion as short as possible you should try to get your upper back and Glutes as close to one another as possible when setting up on the Bench Press. Other people have spines that do not really want to arch and will never achieve a great arch. . you must practise your set up over and over again and on every set up perform. All Rights Reserved www. as long as your upper back is tight. The amount of “daylight” you can see under your back will depend on how much of an arch you have managed to achieve.Foot Position There are two ways to place your feet when performing the Bench Press. Every set is a chance to work on your arch.net .andyboltonstrength.
andyboltonstrength. Think of how a pyramid is built and you will get the idea. Due to the nature of the Bench Press it may be necessary to get a training partner to line your feet up in order to ensure symmetry. With the flat footed position most people will find that they will be able to get their best leg drive during performance of their Bench Presses with their heels under their knees. Any asymmetry with foot position can lead to strength leakages and an increased risk of injury. However. This means that they should be an equal distance from the Bench to the left and the right and front to back. However. for Powerlifters whose federations allow it. This ensures a stable base and a great position to bench from. we feel it necessary to say that the flat foot position is easier to learn for most people and for athletes and gym warriors. The flat footed Bench position should involve having the feet spread as wide as possible. the “up of the balls of the feet” method is well worth experimentation with. Over time you should learn to “feel” the position yourself and the need to be lined up by your training partner will disappear. other athletes Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. All Rights Reserved www. this is probably the way to go.20 Flat Footed: Start Position Balls of Feet: Start Position Before we get into the advantages and disadvantages of each method. Regardless of which foot position you do assume the feet should be placed symmetrically on the floor.net .
some lifters who bench up on the balls of their feet experience stability issues. especially when they have their feet close together. Finding a sweet spot is a matter of trial and error. The advantage that Benching on the balls of your feet brings is that it will usually result in an athlete being able to assume a higher arch during the set up. This has the effect of further raising their belly into the air (creating a bigger arch) and this helps them to touch. And guess what. it resulted in less of an arch and further to press the weight. Andy himself had this problem for many years and experimented with the flat footed version in order to compensate. All Rights Reserved www. this method also allows them to drive their heels down towards the floor as they are lowering the bar towards the chest. which can be tough in a very tight bench shirt. voila. This reduces the range of motion and could result in more weight being lifted. Best of both worlds. Bill Crawford suggested that he try going back to the “up on the balls of your feet method” and this time having his feet out wide. However. This is the main drawback of this method and can be seen when lifters un-rack near maximal weights and look like they are rowing a canoe as they try to get stable before performing their set. Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011.net . despite this curing his stability issues. For equipped lifters. stability problem solved and high arch achieved. However. nearly touching the bench.andyboltonstrength.21 have found that having the feet out in front of the knees is their strongest position. No matter which foot position you go for. without your Glutes coming off the Bench during the execution the Bench Press movement. So. aim to find a spot where you can drive with the legs.
Force your Glutes towards your upper back in order to create the best arch you can . whilst conforming to the rules. Once you have a routine that works.22 So foot position can be a tricky thing. use it on every set of every Bench Press you do. as ever. must. lift your upper back off the bench. All Rights Reserved www.You are set up and ready to un-rack the bar Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. Andy will describe a method based on how he assumes his set up for the Bench Press. In order to ensure that you get a good set up every time. . Play around and find your ideal Bench Press stance.Lay on the Bench with your eyes under the bar and an underhand grip on the bar . Athletes and gym-warriors are probably best sticking to the flat footed stance for simplicities sake. Competitive Powerlifters.Putting it all together: finding the perfect set up There are many different ways to ensure that you achieve a good set up that encompasses the points above. . This way your set up will get better and better and more consistent every time you practise it.Place your feet where you want them .net . know the rules of the federation that they compete in and then find their strongest stance.Assume your Bench Press grip . squeeze your shoulders back and down and force your chest out and then place your upper back on the bench and maintain the tightness you have created during this phase of the set up .andyboltonstrength.Using the bar for leverage.
be it a garage set up or otherwise. you want to use a bench that has very small lips on the j-hooks that hold the bar in place on the rack. Costly. In order to make both of these jobs as easy as possible it pays to look at what kind of bench you are using in your training. These well designed benches will play a part in allowing you to maintain your set-up position as you un-rack the bar. we highly recommend that you look into Forza Benches. Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. If possible. Un-racking The Bar When un-racking the bar you should be aiming to do two things.net . this can be easier said than done because a lot of racks are poorly designed. All Rights Reserved www. Forza Benches allow you to adjust the height of the j-hooks. you want it so that when the bar is in the j-hooks. shoulders back and down and chest out position that you created so meticulously during your set-up. find a Bench with very shallow j-hooks. In turn. To avoid this ugly scenario. This kind of Bench will allow you to pretty much drag the bar out of the rack. instead of lifting it too high over poorly designed j-hooks.andyboltonstrength. The first is to get the bar from the Bench Press Rack to the starting position of your Bench Press. If you are looking to upgrade (or start) your own gym. this makes it very difficult to maintain that tight upper back. Now. These poorly designed Bench Press Racks (and power racks) often have lips that are 2 to 3 inches deep. This basically means that you have to perform your Bench Press lockout just to un-rack the bar. but worth every penny. The j-hooks only really need to be a quarter of an inch high. And the second is to maintain the Bench Press stance.23 6. Ideally. stability and tightness that you created in your set-up. so the Bench works for lifters of all shapes and sizes. your arms are just slightly bent.
You take all the weight when the bar is in the starting position (over your sternum) To get this process right takes some practise and a good deal of sound communication between you and your training partner. so your training partner (spotter) may save you from a nasty accident at some point.2. Different lifters say different things. some just say “lift”.You should take a deep breathe into your belly immediately prior to the bar leaving the rack .2.1”. And if the j-hooks are set too high and you have to stretch to reach the bar in the rack then you will again compromise your set-up and it will be very difficult and unsafe when you come to un-rack the bar. Others count down “3.This should be the same every time (For instance: “3. This will waste energy.net . clear communication is vital! What you say before you un-rack the bar is vital so that your training partner knows when to un-rack the bar for you. It pays to bear in mind that a few people die every year in the USA Bench Pressing. For this to happen. It doesn’t matter what you say. here is how you and your partner should work to un-rack your Bench Presses: Your partner should know what you say before you un-rack the bar… . 2. Others count up “1. compromise your set-up and increase injury risk. If you are training with a partner. then you will perform half a rep just to get the bar out of the rack.andyboltonstrength. 1”…) .3”. but it does Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011.Your training partner should lift most of the weight for you . All Rights Reserved www.24 If your arms are massively bent.
andyboltonstrength. As soon as you say “1” you must then take that deep breath into your belly. Your training partner should take most of the weight between starting to un-rack the bar and getting it into the start position over your sternum. without a partner. If your partner lifts the bar way higher than the j-hooks you will lose some of the upper back tightness and arch you created in your set-up. and then getting it into position is extremely harsh on the shoulders. So the message is. Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. your training partner should aim to lift the bar so that it just clears the j-hooks. This is because lifting the weight out of the rack yourself. It is especially important on your heavier sets (even more so if you are wearing a Bench shirt). The pros are outweighed by the cons. Over time this can take its toll and lead to shoulder injuries. This creates further tightness as your training partner lifts the bar out to you.1” and then your training partner will un-rack the bar immediately after you say “1”. This movement is quite a few inches and it will take some practise for you to trust your training partner to do this efficiently for you. This will increase your range of motion and make the set harder. All Rights Reserved www.2. Let’s say you choose to say “3. don’t Bench without a good training partner who can lift the bar off safely for you.net . especially if you are an athlete and are simply using the Bench Press to improve your upper body strength for another sport. In order to maintain your set-up position.25 matter that you keep it the same and you training partner knows exactly when to un-rack the bar.
with the bar in your hands at around your Bench Press grip width . lean the torso over until you are at around a 60 degree angle) .Start with the bar at eye level .Return to the start position and repeat for reps Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. lower the bar to your legs . To perform this movement: . All Rights Reserved www. your chest out and get that upper back tightness .Stand in front of a high pulley station with a straight bar attached .Assume an athletic stance (slight knee bend.Keeping your chest out and shoulders back and down.Force your shoulders back and down.26 Flat Footed: Start Position Balls of Feet: Start Position A great drill for re-creating the feeling you should get during the unracking phase of your Bench Presses is the Straight Arm Pull Down.andyboltonstrength.Take two paces back.net . push the Glutes back. lower back arched.
If you allow your ego to get in the way you will not get the correct feeling Straight Arm Pull-Downs: Start Position Straight Arm Pull-Downs: Mid-Way Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011.net .Moderate weight rules on this drill.27 .The idea is to keep your chest out and feel the lats pull the bar from the start position to your legs and then back again . All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.
andyboltonstrength. in a shirt you must still think of breaking the bar apart on the descent and keeping the forearms perpendicular to the floor. With your breath still held. All Rights Reserved www. We have found that this is an un-natural command for many Raw lifters and causes them to tuck too much. Feel like you are breaking the bar apart. you will find that you probably do just that and your elbows will naturally tuck to do this. Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. With Bench Shirts things can change a bit because some shirts are designed for a lot of tucking and a touching point at the upper belly instead of the lower chest. This will force you to stabilise the bar and is a good technique to develop grip strength for the Bench Press. if you just think of touching the bar to your sternum. Instead. hold the bar for a second once it is in the start position. you are ready to begin lowering the bar down to your chest. To begin with.28 7. prior to beginning the descent. Instead. Regardless. (directly over your sternum). This squeezing of the bar should take place throughout the descent. We cannot go through different techniques for every shirt because it all depends on who’s wearing it and where your federation allows you to touch. There is much talk of “tucking the elbows”.net . To break the bar apart your left hand will feel like it is twisting counterclockwise and your right hand will feel like it is twisting clockwise. Aim to keep the forearms perpendicular to the floor and touch the bar on your sternum/lower chest level. do not be in a rush to start lowering the bar. Going Down Now that you have un-racked the bar and have it positioned in the start position. squeeze the bar as hard as possible and start to lower it down.
andyboltonstrength. Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. try this simple drill. This is probably because they are trying to “isolate their pecs more”.29 To check your touching point is consistent. Now. Never use this style and if you already do. All Rights Reserved www. if the markings are in different places you know you need to pay extra attention on the descent of your bench press. And when you are injured you can’t train so your pecs won’t be getting any stimulation then! Also. If you do a set of 5 and the mark on your t-shirt is around the thickness of the bar then you know that every rep touched in around the same place and your technique is consistent. you will mark your t-shirt.net . However. imagine if you drop the bar and you have been lowering the bar to the throat area! Which do you prefer: a broken jaw? No front teeth? Or a crushed windpipe? Because they are all on the cards with this style of Bench (especially if your spotter decides his phone is more interesting than you). as you Bench. Balls of Feet: Mid Way Position Balls of Feet: Mid Way Position If you go into any commercial gym today you will see a lot of guys benching in a style that involves touching the bar to the upper chest/throat area. Touching to the upper chest will severely chew up your shoulders and will almost definitely lead to shoulder injuries at some point. please change to the one described by us in this book. Where a dark t-shirt and put some chalk on the middle of the bar.
All Rights Reserved www. Either style is correct and whether or not you choose to do one or the other will depend on your goals and why you are performing the Bench Press. keeping your elbows out (which is what benching to the upper chest/throat requires) let your arms fall to where they naturally want to go. Your shoulders will thank you and your Bench Press strength will go up. Get with the program and break the bar apart. When you touch the bar on the chest you can either pause on the chest for a second before driving the bar back to the start position or you can “touch and go”. clearly showing you that you should not be benching this way if you value your shoulder health.net . that is for sure . You will almost definitely find that if there was a bar in your hands it would be several inches from your chest. This will not make you stronger. Assume your Bench Press set up and hold your arms in the start position. keep the forearms perpendicular to your chest. One final word on lowering the bar relates to the issue of pausing. because you have to in competition (practise as you play) . tuck the elbows.30 If you require one further piece of information to stop you performing your Bench Presses this way then try this simple technique. touch the bar to the lower chest and keep the Glutes on the Bench the entire time. Some points for you to consider regarding whether or not to pause your Bench Presses are: . Now.andyboltonstrength.If you are a competitive Powerlifter it probably pays to pause sometimes.Pausing too often and for too long can kill your stretch reflex.A 1 to 2 second pause is long enough Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011.
When you pause.Don’t be afraid to use both styles. Pause for a few weeks in training and then do a few weeks of “touch and go” pressing . you’ll get the same things you always got Flat Footed: Mid Way Position Flat Footed: Mid Way Position Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011.net .andyboltonstrength. Do not let yourself lose tightness when the bar is stationary on your chest . stay tight. All Rights Reserved www.Remember.31 . if you do the same things you always did.Pausing may help to develop starting strength .
If you learn to utilise a good leg drive on the Bench then your numbers will go up very quickly (especially if your legs are used to being passive on the Bench Press). Your Pecs. Coming Up The ascent of the Bench Press is the phase where you drive the bar from your chest and back to the start position. If you are Benching up on the balls of your feet then you will need to drive through the balls of your feet in order to utilise your leg drive. with your heels more or less directly under your knees then think of driving the heels into the floor as hard as you can.andyboltonstrength. If your feet are flat. but the bar path will probably be slightly backwards towards your chin. Delts and Triceps are small muscles in comparison to those of your lower body. With this style. As soon as you begin to drive the bar off your chest you must drive with the legs. This is a subtle difference with this style of Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. (where your heels are in front of your knees). If your feet are flat but you are using the feet forwards position. Imagine you are trying to force your big toe to touch the end of your shoe. All Rights Reserved www. keeping your Glutes tight and carry on driving the bar up in a straight line towards the start position. At the same time keep forcing the knees out. keep the Glutes tight and drive the bar in a straight line back towards the start position. Hamstrings. try to drive your feet forwards in your shoes. Try this at the gym and you will soon get the feeling. Quads and Calves. Simultaneously keep forcing you knees out.32 8. you still want to force the knees out and keep the Glutes tight.net . This is where the Bench Press really becomes a total body movement. such as the Glutes. To perform this phase as efficiently as possibly requires a lot of leg drive.
it may not be advisable for them to hold their breath throughout the duration of each rep of the Bench Press. Your upper back must stay tight and your shoulders back and down.net . but helps to maintain tightness. You will want to take some more air into your belly before you start the descent of the next rep. You may find that you work up to being able to do triples (or the first 3 reps of any set) on the same breath you took when the bar was unracked.andyboltonstrength. This is a subtle difference. A cautionary word on holding your breath For some people. In order to do this it is often easier to think of pushing yourself away from the bar on the ascent instead of pushing the bar away from you. The alternative would be to hold your breathe on the lowering phase and then breath out with the effort on the way up. usually those with high blood pressure and heart problems. but can work wonders for keeping the shoulders back and down. Once you have pressed the bar back to the start position.33 Benching. hold it there for half a second before beginning your next rep. All Rights Reserved www. Please consult your doctor on this matter and before embarking on any new exercise routine. This takes practise. Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. (It becomes much more pronounced when a lifter has a Bench shirt on as he or she may touch the upper belly and then drive the bar back towards their face). During the driving phase of the Bench Press you want to maintain the positions you assumed in your set up.
Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. To rack the bar. Your training partner should help you do this by symmetrically placing his hands over the middle of the bar and taking some of the weight. move it backwards into the rack. All Rights Reserved www. Racking the Bar Once you have completed the last rep of your set. (A mixed grip from a spotter never works as well as a double overhand grip as it often leads to a helicopter effect on the bar). hold the bar at lockout for a second. prior to getting the “Rack” command from the judges.34 9. This will build strength and stability and if you are a Powerlifter you must do this in competition.andyboltonstrength.net .
For example. but rather that certain communalities will exist.andyboltonstrength. but the way they use their arms during the swing may differ greatly (just go compare Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk). They rationalise this poor choice by saying that it makes the movement more athletic and that Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. because that’s one of the hallmarks of great athletes. Technique is much like your strength. do not let this get you down.35 10. They tend to have great technique.net . A Word On Technique This entire book has focused on correct Bench Press technique because great technique will allow you to achieve your strength potential on the Bench Press and minimise injury risk. Every top Golfer will keep a constant spine angle. All Rights Reserved www. Progress will not be linear. Regardless. This does not mean that they all look the same when competing in their given sports. use foam rolling and mobility drills to warm yourself up before Bench Pressing and use appropriate assistance exercises to bring up weak areas and make your Bench Press more balanced. It is true in every sport that we have ever studied that the athletes at the highest level tend to have the best technique. but do make sure that over time your technique gets better. but you will see some top Bench Pressers with their feet flat on the floor and some up on the balls of their feet. It has become common in recent years for Coaches of Athletes who are not Powerlifters to allow their athletes to let their hips come off the Bench when they are Benching. Also. You will have good days and bad days. every strong Bench Presser you see will aim to perfect their set-up. The bottom line is to practise your technique on every single rep. without exception.
So now you have a room full of Rugby Players. Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. Hockey Players (or whatever sport you care to name). If you want your athletes to use their legs more in their upper body pressing movements then you have two choices: . There will always be some athletes who abuse this approach and end up with their Glutes extremely high and their lower backs arched more than they really can do safely. Well.36 because the athletes are not competing in Powerlifting there is no need for them to Bench with their Glutes stapled to the Bench. by utilising the techniques we teach in this book . who are performing extremely dangerous Bench Presses and all in the name of more athleticism.Get them to learn to Bench properly. in which case the leg drive can be achieved with the Glutes still on the Bench. All Rights Reserved www.andyboltonstrength.Get them to do Push Presses Just don’t bastardize a movement in the name of Athleticism without first understanding the technicalities of the movement and then thinking of the injury implications (in this case specifically to the lower back). our opinion is that this is nonsense.net .
Think of others who have done what you are about to attempt and this way you will see that it is entirely possible 5. Never let a weight intimidate you. or a World Record and 5 spotters having to pull the bar off your chest. Commit to the lift. let’s look at how Andy approaches his Bench Press from a mental point of view. As soon as any negative thought like this comes to mind you must change your focus immediately to something empowering: like smoking the lift! 4.net . So if you visualise lifts in your mind. A Bench Press is a solo physical endeavour and you and only you can break gym PB’s and meet PB’s. With that in mind. prior to doing them. This one is obvious but it is easy to let your mind play games on you if you are not careful.andyboltonstrength. This is just weak. All Rights Reserved www. Once the bar is in your hands you must be aggressive and attack the weight once it touches your chest 6. Visualise your top set before you do it. Never think of failure. Believe in yourself. 3. Nobody else can do it for you. Do not think of missing your top set or a PB in competition. 1. with enough intensity and clarity. Get in the zone before you get to the gym. The human mind cannot tell the difference between something strongly imagined and something you have actually done. Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011.37 11. you should find the performance of the lift much easier when you come to do it. 2. Mind-set A bullet proof mind-set can be the difference between a PR and a disappointment. You can do this be listening to some empowering music in the car on the way to the gym.
andyboltonstrength. A multiple world champion in the WPC and WPO federations. WDFPF. BPC and WPC.5kg Bench and 260kg Deadlift. All Rights Reserved www. He has competition best lifts of 255kg Squat.38 12.net Explode Your Bench by Andy Bolton and Elliot Newman © 2011. He is passionate about all things related to nutrition and strength training. please check out: http://www.andyboltonstrength. 157. explosive power and muscular size. Elliot Newman is a competitive Powerlifter who has competed in the BDFPA. About The Authors Andy Bolton is one of the greatest Powerlifters of all time. one of only 5 men to ever Squat over 1200lbs and the only man to ever pull in excess of 1000lbs on the Deadlift. For more information on how YOU can develop herculean strength.net .