1. Actually Do Bench Press
How many CrossFitters actually do bench press on a regular basis? Not many. In fact, most CrossFit programming leaves out the bench press. But, if you want to improve your bench press, you must add it into your workout routine. Consistency is important. You must work your chest 2-3 times a week for at least 6 weeks. While strength gains start immediately, research shows that it takes 6 weeks for muscle size to increase (hypertrophy). This further boosts strength gains as the muscle cross-sectional area enlarges.
To make the most bench press gains, working every angle of the chest is key. Most people only focus on the traditional bench press, but varying your grip width by doing incline bench press and close grip bench press will hit the chest at a different angle. By varying grip widths, you’re able to focus on each of the muscle groups involved in the bench press and strengthen each. This can help you break through to that PR you’ve been working toward. Another great variation is bench pressing with dumbbells. This forces the nondominant arm to hold its own and also works the stabilizer muscles in the chest and shoulder. Ring dips and dumbbell fly’s are also helpful variations to improve your bench press.
Using proper technique while bench pressing will improve your bench press number and decrease risk of injury. It will also ensure you are lifting to your true maximum. Here are a few tips for bench press technique:
- Lift explosively- explode out of the bottom (While many people believe that slowing the weight down improves performance, research says otherwise.)
- Don’t just drop the weight toward your body; you want to pull it down toward you
- Keep your elbows tucked to your side and protect your shoulders. Flaring your elbows out on the ascent will not only decrease the amount of weight you can bench press but it also increases the risk of shoulder injury.