Big Bench Tip #1 – Tight Shoulder Blades

This tip is quite honestly the easiest way there is to add weight to your bench. It’s a relatively simple technique tweak, and doesn’t require any increase in strength (although a BWOW circuit will help considerably).

Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you bench.

How can squeezing my shoulder blades together increase your bench press?

Whenever I’m helping someone new with the bench press, the first thing I watch is the shoulders. Most untrained benchers don’t pay attention to their shoulders as they bench.  They simply press the bar up haphazardly. Their shoulders remain loose throughout the lift and they often raise them off the bench with each rep. Even those who keep their shoulders on the bench for the easy reps begin lifting them as they tire to push the bar up.

Squeezing your shoulder blades together tightly keeps your shoulders on the bench and reduces the range of motion of the press. If a movement does not add to the power of your lift, or does not make you bigger or stronger it should be eliminated. The thing to realize is that the bench press is complete when your elbows lock, it does not matter how high you press the bar. Lifting your shoulders off the bench to raise the bar higher is wasted motion. It wastes energy and distracts you from completing the lift. Instead of pressing the bar up, concentrate on locking your elbows. This prevents you from lifting your shoulders and helps you engage your triceps decisively to finish the lift.


How do you maintain tight shoulders throughout your bench?

Plant your shoulders on the bench. Find your hand and foot position, and drive your CHEST UP. Once you have your lifting position on the bench, squeeze your shoulder blades together and continue squeezing them throughout the full lift. Imagine you are trying to pinch a quarter between your shoulder blades, squeeze it and don’t let it go until your set is complete. As you lock your bench out, concentrate on locking your elbows, don’t press the bar up.

Practice this technique from your first warm-up to your heaviest set. Done correctly, it can add weight to the bar in your next bench session.

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