The Problem - Lack of Stability While Benching
If you look like a Mexican jumping bean on the bench this fix it friday is for you. You aren't alone, many people have problems with stability, even I did for a long time. You never want your body rocking all over the place under heavy weight. You'll know a stable bencher when you see one. You won't see any movement from their body, they almost become an extension of the bench. With practice you can look like this too!
The Fix - Plant Your Feet, Brace Your Core, Drive Your Traps
Stability in my opinion starts with your foot placement. Where you position your feet is arguably the biggest difference maker in creating a stable platform in which to bench from. I prefer to see lifters place their feet flat, turning their toes out and keeping their feet wide, not only so their butt stays on the bench but also to create a wider base of support. There are lifters who also have success going toes back with a wider foot placement, and even lifters who toe back close and squeeze the bench pad with their thighs to get tight. It is mostly a matter of preference.
Try each style out and see how each feels for you, not only in terms of stability but also in creating leg drive as well. The key to keeping the body tight is to get constant drive from the feet. So whether you are feet flat and driving your body back on the bench, or toes back driving that heel down, you are always maintaining lower body tension
The next step is to create a good brace. I always tell lifters to get a deep belly full of air before they even get the handoff. It is easier to breathe without weight in your hands than with massive weight lingering over you. Sometimes I won't even hand the bar off until I see the belly rise. the belly rising tells me you breathed correctly and didn't just fill your chest with air. Fill everything with air, belly, back, chest. Hold that air for the duration of the lift. How you breathe is a huge make or break in a lift. Take your time getting that breathe too. So many times I see lifters walk up to the platform rushing to make their lift. Slow down! You have time to set up correctly and breathe, chill out and execute
The last cue to think about is to drive your traps down into the bench. This finishes the chain from toe to head. Stable lower body, braced midsection, stable upper body. When your traps are driven down into the bench your chest will be up and your upper body will be pinned in tight to the bench. This finishes your bench arch. The mistake I see many lifters make is not pinching their shoulder blades back and down and getting on their traps. They bench from a flat chest position and it won't matter how tight you get your lower body and midsection if you don't finish it from above. Drive those traps down into the bench!
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