Controlling Big Weight on the Bench - Fix It Friday

The Problem - Control In The Bench Press

Do you have trouble lowering heavy sets of bench to your chest? It is a common issue and can really hinder your progress long term unless you take care of it

A good bench is highlighted by a smooth controlled bar path directly down to your chest. At no point in the lift should it look like you aren't in full control of the bar. There should be one constant speed while lowering the bar

An uncontrolled descent to the chest is exposed by an initial smooth descent followed by a rapid increase in speed until you reach the chest. The problem with this is the bottom half of the lift is not tight and the bar will likely sink into a chest and there will be an over reliance on leg drive to heave the bar up. Once control is lost it is extremely difficult to recapture under heavy weight

The Fix - Develop the Lats and Create Torque

To capture full control of the bar through the entire descent, you need to build your lats. Your pulling motions should just about match your pushing motions in your program. Back can be trained frequently, some even train back daily in some capacity

When you are lowering the bar you want to think of your lats as a coil. As you come down you are loading the coil up with weight and developing major tension in the back. Once you reach the chest you should be able to explode up with all the tension you developed in the lats. Another way to think about it is catching the bar with your lats

I recently watched a video by well known powerlifter, Brandon Lilly. He was discussing the bench press and in his demo he told the audience that he could hold 400 lbs just off his chest and have a conversation with all the lat tension he develops in his bench press, the weight doesn't want to touch. That is how the lats can be used to control big weight. It should be difficult to even reach the chest with how spring loaded your lats become

The other fix is to create torque. You can create torque by "breaking" the bar. Pretend the bar is the lid of a pickle jar and you are trying hard to open it. That external rotation will set everything from your wrists to your shoulders nice and tight. Maintain this tightness as you lower the bar to your chest and load the lats

Building the lats and creating major torque is the key to controlling big weights on the bench press. By following these two tips you should see your bench descent dramatically improve and you won't dump uncontrolled benches into your chest anymore

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