5 Simple Secrets to add 20lbs to your 1-rep Max Instantly - insidefitnessmag.com
Brought to you by PVL Supplements & Written by Tim Rigby, M.A., NCASA-CPT
Photo by Anastase Maragos on Unsplash

During the glory days of bodybuilding, the bench press was considered the most “macho” exercise of all. This was the true mark of men – and now women. The bench press was (and still is) the most testosterone-filled exercise you can perform, representing the collective energy output of all your upper body muscle groups. We’d bet the farm that when you first began lifting weights, it was the bench press that you focused on the most; it likely became your first favourite movement, and one in which you eagerly wanted to ramp up the weight lifted as soon as possible.

While the bench press is often mistakenly referred to as a “chest” exercise due the substantial involvement of your pectorals, it is much more than that. Take the time to observe another of your fellow lifters performing the bench press and you’ll easily see the recruitment of the shoulder and triceps muscle groups. What you may not witness as easily is the additional involvement of the lats, glutes and legs. Yes, that’s right – your legs. If you perform a bench press with precise technique (like a powerlifter) and employ your entire body, you’ll set yourself into a stronger power position and likely be able to heave up to 20 additional pounds instantly.

Here are 5 simple secrets to add power to your bench press lift, simply by correcting your technique (in order of execution):

>> If you have a partner or spotter, have them help you unrack the bar. This is not cheating! While you have no choice but to unrack the bar yourself if you’re alone, you should absolutely get help from your buddy to unrack the bar when available. Otherwise, you’re using up important energy – almost exclusively in the triceps – which could be better applied to the full range of motion. Every last bit of energy counts, and even in powerlifting competition, getting help un-racking is perfectly legal.

>> Squeeze your lats and glutes together before you begin the descent. Even some advanced lifters are unaware of the leverage advantage powerlifters get when they “build a bridge” with their upper body. Contracting your lats and butt cheeks together will cause a natural arch or “bridge” which will instantly make you able to lift more. Powerlifting coaches encourage their lifters to avoid the “flat bench” phenomenon where the competitor’s entire back remains flat on the bar, since it lengthens and weakens the lift.

>> Bring the bar down low on your chest and draw your elbows inward. A common mistake, even among those who’ve bench pressed for years, is to lower the bar too high on the chest (barely below the plane of the collarbone) and let their elbows flare outward. You won’t be able to assert as much force this way. Lower the bar to your lower pecs and keep your elbows drawn inward. To illustrate this, imagine you’re punching someone in the mouth; you wouldn’t raise your elbows and punch in a backhanded way. So, keep the elbows closer to you.

>> Slam your heels into the ground to begin the press movement. Once you’ve un-racked the bar, lowered it to your chest and paused for a split-second, you’re ready to begin the press. Instead of focusing on your chest and arms, begin by driving your heels forcefully “into” the floor. This begins an entire kinetic chain of energy which surges through your whole body and ultimately transfers into your arms, giving you extra force.

>> Press the bar slightly inward from vertical. Far too many lifters press the bar purely vertically (straight up and down), but what will add to your strength is raising it slightly inward (back toward over your head). This will shorten the length of the lift, making it easier for you to hoist heavier poundages; this is a favourite secret of the world’s elite powerlifters.

If you want to smash a new personal best on the bench press, make sure you use a top-of-the-line creatine supplement each and every training session. We strongly recommend you make 100% PURE CREATINE from PVL a staple of your training to draw water into your cells, maximize volumization and optimize contractile strength. This superior brand is nano-micronized for unbeatable absorption and has no artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners.
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