Exercise Your Rotator Cuffs
The Rotator Cuffs are a vital muscle group to maximizing your bench. They are responsible for internal and external rotation of the humorous (arm bone), flexion and extension of the arm, as well as abduction and adduction of the arm.
All these movements are intrinsically involved in the actions of the bench press. Take a moment to look at the bench press from an analytical perspective.
We start the movement with the shoulder joint in the flexed position and also in the adducted position. As we move through the eccentric phase of the exercise, we transfer from those positions into the extended and abducted position.
Keep in mind that the muscles responsible for these actions are small in comparison to the prime movers of the bench press (pectorals major) and even the assisting muscles, triceps and anterior deltoid.
Exercising your rotator cuff muscles will aid in the stabilization of the shoulder joint as a whole, minimizing the risk of injury and allowing you to control more weight.
Build Stronger Triceps
Strong triceps are also a necessity for having a strong bench. After all, they are solely responsible for the “lock out” phase of the movement.
Increasing the strength of the triceps through similar movements is a great approach when trying to increase the amount of poundage you use.
Close-grip bench pressing increases the range of motion of the elbow joint during the “lock out” phase, maximizing the number of motor units being utilized to complete the movement. In other words, it transfers the emphasis from the pectoral muscles to the triceps.
Your increased strength will transfer perfectly into the traditional bench press.
Try Decline Bench Press
Decline Bench Press allows you to move a larger volume of weight than flat bench due to the biomechanical changes in the range of motion, much like arching the back during the flat bench.
An angular change recruits the triceps and deltoids to a greater extent, because the degree of abduction of the humorous is decreased than that of the flat bench. A greater number of motor units are recruited during the decline movement, and that will ultimately help your flat-bench weight.
A training partner is vital for this phase of your training program. For eccentric training to be truly effective, have a training partner who is at the same level of strength and is also switched on to one’s capabilities.
Here a heavier weight will be used than when performing the flat exercise. As you lower the bar without aid and under complete control, your training partner should be ready to take up to 75 percent of the load when going through the concentric or positive phase of the movement.
This method helps the muscles to adapt to the increased load in a more progressive manner, and the strength increase transfers to the conventional bench press in a relatively short period of time.
Thanks to muscle memory, the body realizes that it has already adapted to using an amount of weight. When performing the eccentric or negative phase, the muscles brace in anticipation of the load, and they create an elastic-like effect as they extend.
The tension created allows you to press the increased weight under a greater level of control. In other words, you have gotten stronger.
Contributing blogger Troy Meyers is a certified personal trainer and sports conditioner with more than 10 years of experience. He owns Atlanta-based JockBoyLocker.com and contributes to the site’s Lockerroom Blog.