These 5 exercises are guaranteed to add strength to your bench routine. They are not your usual bench press accessory movements, which makes them hidden gems. They all work great as add on movements after your primary bench press exercise for the day. Try them out and let me know what you think!
Push Up Plank
How To Perform - Hold the top of the push up position for time. This exercise is a variation of a standard plank except instead of being on your elbows you have your arms extended. To enhance this exercise you can increase how long you hold, add weight to your back, or add bands around your arms
Why It's Awesome - The first time I did these my shoulders were shaking after just 30 seconds. I knew I was on to something. This exercise is a great way to increase shoulder stability and strength. Not only are you working your core but also getting those great benefits in the shoulders. If you can stabilize your body with additional weight for a long period of time then any weighted barbell will be easy to control
Banded Bench Rows
How To Perform - Hang bands from the top of a power rack and put a barbell through them so the bar is hanging suspended from the rack. Set up on the bench below the bar. Row the bar down to your chest in the same fashion you would groove your normal bench press
Why It's Awesome - This exercise is a great corrective tool for the bench press. It teaches you how to use your back to lower the bar to your chest. I always tell athletes that you are never controlling the bar through your arms, you are allowing the lats to take the bar down. You will start to understand how that feels through this exercise. Not only that but it doubles as an excellent back exercise as well!
How To Perform - Lie facedown on an inclined bench, prop the chest up. Use very light dumbbells with this exercise. Raise your arms up (thumbs up) to form a Y, bring them back down controlled, raise the weights out to form a T, return to neutral, then proceed to high row the weight and externally rotate your arms up to form a W. This series counts as one rep
Why It's Awesome - Your scapula is going through a lot of motion with this exercise. Most lifters get in the habit of always packing down their shoulders, it is important for the health of your shoulder girdle to allow your scapula to move freely every now and then. This exercise will strengthen the much smaller but no less important muscles of the shoulder and keep you healthier long term
Hammer Curls w/ Fat Grips
How To Perform - Attach a Fat Grip (fatgripz.com) to a dumbbell. If no fat grips are available just wrap a small towel around the dumbbell to increase the diameter of the handle. Keep a neutral grip (thumbs up) and curl the dumbbells without using momentum
Why It's Awesome - You don't see many big benchers with small arms. To bench big you need big powerful triceps and thick dense biceps, as well as monster forearms. All this meat in your arm contributes big time to being able to stabilize the weight. When you bench you need to squeeze the bar hard and pretend you're trying to snap the bar in half. In order to do this effectively you need a super strong grip. This exercise works both your biceps and your grip strength to a large degree. The neutral grip also places more emphasis on the forearms. Think of this exercise as hitting 3 birds with 1 stone
Buffalo Bar Bench Press
How To Perform - Simply bench press with a cambered bar of some sort, whether a Buffalo Bar, Duffalo Bar, or other.
Why It's Awesome - This is a staple in mine as well as my athlete's programs. Nothing builds strength off the chest quite like extended range of motion benching. Most people can handle this exercise in short bouts of 3-4 weeks, just be careful with how long you do this exercise if you're prone to shoulder pain. If you're shoulder is pulled froward in the socket then this exercise will aggravate the joint. Very long armed benchers are best off sticking with paused benching or using a very small camber (1/2-1"). Benching with these bars with an additional pause is a sure fire way to feel stronger off the chest
Give these exercises a try and watch your bench press skyrocket! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any tips or tricks. We offer online coaching for clients no matter where you're located! Want to join Team Big Benchas? Contact me now!