Often Overlooked Bench Press Training Exercise
Over the years I have had the opportunity to know quite a few lifters who preferred to compete in the bench press (only). Many do not squat or deadlift for whatever reason. Some of them have physical ailments such as lower back or knee problems. A number of them just participate in the bench press because that’s all they want to do. Regardless of reason, I have noticed benchers tend to utilize the same basic training techniques. It seems, for example, most benchers do a combination of the following exercises. (Supine pressing movements, over-head presses, a variety of pulling or rowing movements, shrugs, lockouts and board presses, various shoulder related movements and an array of exercises for arm development, etc). I’m sure everyone is very familiar with the traditional bench press training exercises we are talking about.
When coaching bench only competitors I have noticed many of them are lacking in upper back strength, especially in the trapezius area. The common prescription for this problem would be to do shrugs. Shrugs are a great exercise that all benchers should utilize but I think there is movement that is superior. This exercise is frequently used by “full power” lifters but is scarcely used by bench only competitors. The “high pin” RACK PULL is a tremendous upper back as well as upper body strength builder! With a 2” to 4” range of motion, a huge amount of weight can be utilized in this exercise which places stress on the muscle tissue and nervous system that can’t be duplicated with other exercises. Rack pulls allow you to pull heavy weight from an angle that is rarely employed (other than relatively “light” shrugs) by bench only competitors. The pulling movement combined with its static characteristics (I recommend holding the weight at the top for a few seconds before returning the bar to the pins.) under a heavy load will help build the upper back and core strength that it takes to handle heavy weight in the bench press without flattening out. With increased upper back strength, you will be able to maintain your optimal bench press “setup” throughout the movement. We all know what happens when you get flattened out during a maximum weight bench press attempt.
Add rack pulls to your bench press training regimen and let me know how it works for you.
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