Back squats 3×5 (not 5-5-5)
Then, 3 rounds max reps of handstand push ups 1 minute rest.
This time last year… was a rest day.
Bench Press Setup and Execution
- Kurt “Princess Hands” Janke
In the upcoming months the folks that are on the strength program will be performing the bench press on a weekly basis. The following is a guideline for proper setup and execution of this powerful, upper-body movement.
1. Where to lay on the bench – Lie yourself down on the bench so that when the bar is taken out of the rack, the bar will only have to travel about 1 inch away (towards your waist) from the rack before being in the top, or “locked out” position. Some people say that the bar should be directly over your eyes, however, this usually is too far away from the top position of the movement. Aim for somewhere closer to right above your chin. Most importantly, the bar path should be extremely close to the rack itself without the possibility of hitting it during the movement.
2. Shoulder position – Your shoulders should be as far back in the socket as possible. Actively pinch your shoulder blades are close together as possible without shrugging your shoulders up with your traps. Rather, use your lats to pull your shoulders down and back as far as they will go. Once they are there, never let your shoulder roll forward or shrug up. Doing so will put them in a compromised position that can potentially lead to injury of the shoulder or chest, and will decrease your strength by being misaligned.
3. Back arch – The back should be arched in a way that a spotter could theoretically slide there arm through underneath your mid to low back and come out the other side. The purpose of this is to create the most tension throughout your trunk and decrease the distance the bar must travel before contacting your torso. Creating tension makes for more stability and strength, and the decreased distance means your shoulders will not have to rotate as far and will further decrease potential for injury.
4. Foot position – In the bench press your feet are your anchors and their position is crucial as it further assists the back arch in creating tension and stability. Place them wide stance, as in outside shoulder width. With this width, bring them straight out from your body so that your shin angle is greater than 90 degrees. All your lower body strength should be focused on driving your heels through the floor. If your feet are in the correct position, your butt will not lift off of the bench; rather, it will put more pressure underneath your shoulder blades. Along with recruiting the muscles of your lower body into the lift, this will provide support underneath the load above your upper body.
5. Hand position – There are three different hand positions: narrow, medium (or “mid”), and wide. Narrow means that your index fingers are touching the smooth part of the bar between the gritty knurling. Wide means your pinkies are touching the first ring inlayed in the knurling (most of our bars have two rings that are slightly spaced apart. The first, more interior one is called power ring as it is used to signify the outer limits of a permissible bench press width in the sport of powerlifting. The second, wider one is called a snatch ring as it is used to easily find your proper snatch grip. If you see a bar with only one ring, it is an Olympic lifting bar and the ring on it is a snatch ring.)
Now that you are in a proper setup position, lets go over the proper lifting technique.
1. Have a spotter unrack the weight for you – Unracking the weight yourself has the potential to bring your shoulders out of the pinched back position. Allow the spotter to guide the bar into the top position of your lift to insure your shoulders stay in the proper position.
2. Squeeze your elbows in toward your torso – Your elbows will be at a 45 degree angle away from your body, but you will need to squeeze your lats to keep them there.
3. Drive your heels through the floor – Keep tension through your body through the entire movement. Take a deep breath and drive your heels down and feel the pressure build underneath your shoulder blades.
4. Squeeze the bar and pull it apart – Grip the bar as tight as you possibly can and try to break it by bending the bar in half.
5. Keep the bar, wrist, and elbow in a straight line – The bar should be directly over your wrist, which should be directly over your elbow. Having the elbows in front of the bar will turn it into a tricep extension instead of a press.
6. Pull the bar to your torso – Actively pull the bar to highest crest of your arched torso. This will NOT be your chest! It is more likely to be at the bottom of your sternum or even below your rib cage!
7. Press! – Once you start pressing the bar away from you, squeeze the bar harder than you have ever squeezed, pull your elbows down to feel your lats engage, and drive your heels through the floor like its your max deadlift.
8. Breath – Only when you lock out the lift should you let your air out. Once it´s locked out, breath in, and repeat.
This technique is very different than what most are accustomed to seeing at your everyday gym. If you are new to CFC and have seen people benching in this fashion, you were more than likely taken aback. However, this technique will develop tremendous lower tricep strength that will directly correlate to all pressing movement we do, such as: military press, push press, jerk, ring dips, muscles up, push ups, and hand stand push ups. Not only will you be able to lift more weight but you will do it much more safely. Try using this technique the next time you go for a max lift or for high repetitions.