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Author Topic: Powerlifting Bench press setup  (Read 24969 times)
LiftBig
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« on: January 21, 2005, 11:22:01 PM »

Setting up for Competition Bench Pressing
By: Sebastian Burns

When most people set up for the bench they usually don't think that what they are doing is the most important part of the lift. They are focused on the weight and maybe the excitement of the meet or training session. What they don't know is that the game is won or lost in the setup. I don't think that many local gym rats even think about it at all. Judging by most of what I have seen working in the gym business for 15 odd years most people just lay down and push the bar up in whatever way possible. This is fine if you are a flat back benchin gym rat, but when you are looking to do some damage to the state, national, or world record books you will need to pay more attention to your setup. I have personally seen lifters add 50 to 100lbs to their bench in one or two training sessions just by improving their setup. That's right, 50 to 100lbs!! Most lifters would say only a bench shirt could cause an increase like that. Well I will try to convey in writing the proper way to set up your bench press so you to can enjoy an increase like that.

Lets start with feet position your feet should be spread wide. A good rule of thumb here is to always spread your feet a little wider than you think they should be. If you keep that in your head over time you will be able to get them pretty wide if you are not flexible enough to do so in the beginning .Now lets look at foot placement. The way we will do this is to look at the foot in relation to the knee. The feet should be tucked behind your knee more towards your head and the angle of your leg from a side view should look like this (<). There is a few reasons for this foot placement the first being the ability to drive hard from your legs without your ass coming up off the bench. The second is stability. The wide stance will provide the base needed to steer heavy weight with a bench shirt on. The actual way you place your feet is also important. We have found that it is best to put the full force of your push onto the balls of your feet but at the same time pressing the heel to the floor. Pushing the heel to the floor can be used as a fine adjustment knob for getting weight to touch your chest with your shirt on. When you push your heel down this will cause your stomach to rise and will allow the bar to touch.

Now lets move beyond the feet to the hip joint. It is here that we create the angle of the upper leg (<) we are looking for to get the feet in the proper position. This is accomplished by flexing your gluteus as much as possible and rotating your crotch towards the bench (Balls to the bench if you will). If you follow all the steps up till here we have solved the problems of getting max stability with max leg drive without raising your ass off the bench. For most lifters this would seem impossible but with some time and a lot of effort you will get the position right. If your ass is still coming off the bench then your feet will have to go wider or farther back or both.

Next is the lower back, obviously this will determine most of your arch and you will need to really push yourself to get your arch up if you are not flexible enough to do so already. I cannot say enough how important it is that you try really hard to get better at arching it is almost the biggest piece of the shirt bench puzzle. There is a few ways I have seen over the years to try to help you arch, everything from placing various balls and boards under your back to crazy stretching exercises. My opinion here is that if you think it works then try it. I personally have never used anything except trying to arch higher and higher every single set and I have been told that my arch is one of the best save for a few girls who can just bend in half.

Now lets move to arching the upper back. Most people think that only the lower back arches but this is not so and this is very important if you want to get the most out of your shirt, this is accomplished by putting your upper trap on the bench and pushing your chest out as far as possible. To see what I am saying sit up straight in a chair and place your finger on the highest point on your trap you will see that this is not behind you but rather on top. This is what you are trying to get on the bench.

Now that we have made it this far lets talk about the final piece and perhaps the most important. Shoulder blade retraction the best way to explain this is to stand straight up and put your arms up like you are about to bench. Now have someone put his or her finger in the middle of your upper back on your spine. Pull your shoulders together and try to squeeze that persons finger notice your bench stroke will shorten a few inches from doing this. This will also aid in touching weight with a tight shirt on. The reason for it in the setup will be to hold your shirt in place while you are arching.

Now that we have broken down each area of the proper setup lets put it all together into one motion because it must become one fluid motion that does not require lots of valuable energy needed for the lift.
Start by sitting on the end of the bench retracting your shoulder blades keeping your shirt where you have placed it for the lift. Lying back on the bench and grabbing the bar with an underhand grip, next move your head and upper body thru the bench towards your handoff spotter while holding yourself up with your underhand grip. Shoulders still retracted, pull your feet back farther than where you would normally place them, almost where they are touching the cross member of the bench. Keep them there and start moving your body back toward the front of the bench without moving your feet. Once you feel a great stretch in your hipflexors. Anchor your hips to the bench and start rotating your crotch downward toward the bench. Your feet still remain in the extremely flexed position at this time. Shoulders still together chest and stomach pushed up real high, this is where you must focus on the upper back arch. You can also use your head to hold your upper back off the bench while you are trying to get the upper trap on the bench. When you feel you have enough of an arch to put your traps down, slam them down hard and dig in. All the time be aware of your shirt and arm position. Keep pushing your ass and your traps closer together using your feet at one end and pushing into the arch with your hands on the bar with the other. The whole time you are doing this you will need to be aware of your bench shirt and the position of your arms, I cannot stress this enough. Now that you are in position slide your feet forward (not too far) until you can get a solid base on the balls of your feet now push your heels to the floor. If you can do so easily you went too far. It should be hard to get them to touch the floor .Now without moving your shirt turn your hands around push together a little more take a deep breath and take the weight.

I hope you will incorporate some or all of these things into your bench setup.
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Mutt
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« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2005, 06:32:03 AM »

Using proper setup has made my bench increase dramatically. Before I would just jump under the bar and lift. Until I tried it, never would have believed that it made that significant of a difference.
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« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2005, 10:11:04 AM »

Using proper setup has made my bench increase dramatically. Before I would just jump under the bar and lift. Until I tried it, never would have believed that it made that significant of a difference.

Once I learned proper setup I probably gained 50 lbs on my bench in just a little over 4 weeks.

and now, if one thing is done wrong it all falls apart.
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« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2005, 12:35:40 PM »

The one thing I didn't see in this article is holding the bar like you're trying to snap it in half.

More good info that I've found usefull:

http://www.t-nation.com/findArticle.do?article=body_115b600
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« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2005, 12:52:50 PM »

The one thing I didn't see in this article is holding the bar like you're trying to snap it in half.

More good info that I've found usefull:

http://www.t-nation.com/findArticle.do?article=body_115b600

I think the article is for set up not the execution of the movement.
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« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2005, 01:12:06 PM »

That article is one of the things I read while I'm on the can. Grin

I keep WS & MM articles within reach at all times  Wink
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« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2005, 09:35:33 AM »

I am going to try this it makes alot of sense!! I just listed a post about getting my bench shirt to touch This may help Thanks..
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« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2005, 12:25:55 PM »

bro your a modern advocate of the strong.
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« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2005, 11:50:19 AM »

Dude, take it from someone who benches 600+ in the RAW.  Foot and back positioning are everything in benching.  I remember being thirteen and slinging 350 around and being STUCK there until I met Franco Columbu who watched me bench at the pit on muscle beach while my family was on vacation.  He corrected my form and by Christmas I was benching over 480 lbs.  Not bad for a freshman. Wink
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« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2005, 01:54:31 PM »

well looks like local pud has created himself another account.
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« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2005, 09:00:27 AM »

That is some of the best advice I have read. I have been working on my lift positioning for some time, however I always ignored foot position. The foot positioning kept my ass down and my max lifts were up.

Thanks

Any help on Squats and deads would be nice too.
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« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2005, 02:43:39 PM »

Glad we could help.
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« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2005, 08:34:22 PM »

I read while I'm on the can.

a little too much info there dubby !
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« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2005, 02:40:23 PM »

That T-nation article by Dave Tate is one of the best benching articles ive ever read.  I remember reading that 4 years ago and I still use it to this day.
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« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2005, 05:48:07 PM »

Amazing article!

Although I myself am not a powerlifter, I used the setup as mentioned above, and I did my usual 240 for 8, and it didn't feel as heavy. I worked my way up to 270 for 7, just from using this setup.  (woulda tried for more, but no spotter).

 Can't wait to see my numbers improve in the coming months.

Props to all you powerlifting guys, and moreso for sharing your knowledge and expertise. It's much appreciated.

Steve
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« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2005, 02:48:30 PM »

Will these techniques help for benching without a shirt also? what kind of increases in poundages would i expect without a shirt if any?
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« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2005, 09:52:55 PM »

thank you very much for writing all of this
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« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2006, 02:28:13 PM »

thank you for the techneiqes i am looking forward to trying all of it out. i am a 16 year old junior who is big into the bench with a 335 and climing raw max. i myself refuse to use the shirt so these new tecs. will hopefully do the trick to get me to that 350!
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« Reply #18 on: July 07, 2006, 01:16:04 PM »

If any of you guys read Muscle and Fitness, in the June 2006 issue there is an article with Scot Mendelson and he explains all of these steps in pretty much the same fashion, and there are some good pictures of his form to go along with everything he says.  I just know that for me, it really helps to see a picture.
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« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2006, 12:55:19 AM »

Hi I haven't been lifting very long (about 3 months), I've never heard of a benching shirt,what exactly is it? Embarrassed

Is this technique useful to get more mass,should I use this method in every chest training to gain musscle mass?Or is it rather a way of smuggling (for instance I can use more weight doing flies if I slightly change the movement,but it will be less effective cause I don't get maximum intensity)?
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« Reply #20 on: April 24, 2007, 08:11:15 AM »

Hey im new to this site and was wondering if any one can help me how to get big? Im a freshman in high school and im 15 years old. Im 6 foot 1 and weigh 225  and can bench 285. My school has this thing called the 325 benchpress club and I can be the youngest guy ever to do that. Can anyone help me out?
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« Reply #21 on: April 24, 2007, 09:46:20 AM »

Hey im new to this site and was wondering if any one can help me how to get big? Im a freshman in high school and im 15 years old. Im 6 foot 1 and weigh 225  and can bench 285. My school has this thing called the 325 benchpress club and I can be the youngest guy ever to do that. Can anyone help me out?

Try this:

http://www.getbig.com/boards/index.php?topic=97312.msg1987310#msg1987310

-Hedge
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« Reply #22 on: April 24, 2007, 10:29:24 AM »

one of the biggest doubts i have on bench press is this...

in terms of arms positioning, whats the best or most recomended...

 - When you are lowering the weight, your arms (elbows more specifically) should be exactly in line with your shoulders (more or less like this, imagine your both arms in line __o__  ), or they can 'close' a little and be more close to your body??? i tend to close the arms when the weights are getting more heavier...Is this wrong? should i maintain the arms the same position all the time??? would this chance the enphasis of the muscles being worked???
 thanks in advance
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« Reply #23 on: May 15, 2007, 05:13:31 PM »

one of the biggest doubts i have on bench press is this...

in terms of arms positioning, whats the best or most recomended...

 - When you are lowering the weight, your arms (elbows more specifically) should be exactly in line with your shoulders (more or less like this, imagine your both arms in line __o__  ), or they can 'close' a little and be more close to your body??? i tend to close the arms when the weights are getting more heavier...Is this wrong? should i maintain the arms the same position all the time??? would this chance the enphasis of the muscles being worked???
 thanks in advance

For max lift - tuck them to your sides and lower the bar a bit to the belly . Create a base w/ flared lats, leg drive out of the bottom... Heave!
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« Reply #24 on: March 06, 2008, 04:08:52 PM »

Dude, take it from someone who benches 600+ in the RAW.  Foot and back positioning are everything in benching.  I remember being thirteen and slinging 350 around and being STUCK there until I met Franco Columbu who watched me bench at the pit on muscle beach while my family was on vacation.  He corrected my form and by Christmas I was benching over 480 lbs.  Not bad for a freshman. Wink

Pictures?

Not doubting you, I just want to see them.
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