Dig your traps into the bench.
DIG YOUR TRAPS IN
ARCH UPPER BACK
SCREW YOUR UPPER BODY IN
UPPER BACK POSITIONING
I like to put my feet up on the pad... to drive my hips up and really plant onto my traps... I can drive my scaps underneath. I can really create that lengthening in the neck. And then finally, it's going to be awesome for getting our hand placement... if you're driven way up, we're able (like a decline bench) to keep our armpits locked off as we set our hands to the bar. So we're able to keep our back tighter. If we have to reach behind us, it is very easy to let the armpits open, to let the scaps glide out, to start to lose some of that pinch and retract... Being able to set up from a bridge is going to be one of the most beneficial things that you can do for your setup. You want it to be a hip extension not just a lower back jammed up extension.
Reverse grip the bar (flip the hands under)... all the way in, now pull yourself up and get the shoulder blades together and down. Like doing a chin up - lift your upper body off of the bench... get those shoulder blades together tight and down and the sternum higher.
You want to lift your hips up high, while thinking about pulling your shoulder blades to your butt. This will help force you into scapular depression...you can go up onto your toes if you find you can get more arch that way.
THE PULL THROUGH METHOD
Put your feet on the bench and push your hips as high in the air as you can. When you do this you feel tremendous amount of pressure on your traps in your upper back. Then I'll ask them to put their feet back on the floor and find that same pressure.
Optimal bench position is gonna allow the athlete to be as high on their traps as possible...If you do a glute bridge on the bench, that gives some space for you to be able to retract and depress the shoulder blades - to really feel the weight up on her traps. Then from here as she walks her feet down - trying to maintain that upper back tension... Use the rack to push your shoulders slightly towards your butt a little bit more and you can... walk your scapula into place.
Pull your chest towards the bar and try to pull your shoulder blades together. That is going to be the foundation that you're going to press upon. Place them and your traps down on the bench...If you've done this correctly, you should have your eyes under the bar, you should be up on your traps/shoulders, you should have good arch in your spine... and then you place your butt down to set the position. If your butt sticks, you're not going to move. If your traps stick, you're not going to move. If any of that is wrong, you're going to be sliding around the second that you unrack that bar.
PINCH YOUR SHOULDER BLADES TOGETHER
The pull through method is where you set up with your upper torso behind the bench, with your hands at the proper grip width on the bar. You go up on to your toes and simulatenously hyperextend your lower back while driving your hips up in the air. Then I drive my upper traps straight down into the bench, and get my upper spine as vertical as humanly possible.
What I like to do is row myself towards the bar to pull my shoulder blades together behind me. Once that is there, I keep them retracted behind me and then I place myself down on the bench on my traps. Now, make sure that you really work your traps into that bench because that is where you're gonna stick with your leg drive. If you're not sitting on top of your traps, they're gonna slide and you're gonna lose all that power.
For me the easiest way to do this is by actually putting my feet up on the bench because that allows me to flatten out that lower back... feet up on the bench is gonna more or less prevent that... Then I'm gonna try to arch my upper back... by picking myself up and using the bar to push myself down... where I'm using the bar to pull my lats down.
When I'm setting my upper back, I'll scooch myself down the bench towards my feet. Then I pull the shoulders together and then push from my feet, keeping the shoulders together to drive the shoulders down. So there's the two biggest things we want to think about in our shoulders is pulling them together and then pulling them down towards your butt. When you're in the right spot you should feel most of the pressure of your bodyweight at this point on your upper traps. Then what you want to do set your butt down, keeping your shoulders tight.
Placing your weight as high on your traps as you can will create the most advantageous position for you to press from. Doing a glute bridge on the bench will help you feel the pressure in the right place on your traps, then you can walk your feet down into position while maintaining this pressure high on your traps as best you can.
Shoulder blades together and down.
IN AND DOWN
PINCH THE PEN
Shoulder blades together and down, like you're trying to put them in your back pockets.
Put your shoulder blades in your back pockets. Hold your shoulder blades together and bring them down. You should feel your lats tighten when you do this. Your lats are important for lowering and creating the initial reversal of the bar... If you don't feel your lats when you bench, you are 100 percent benching incorrectly.
Squeeze your shoulder blades together, keeping them in this retracted position throughout the whole setup and execution of the lift.
I'm pinching my shoulder blades together as if trying to squeeze a pencil between them. Next I subtly rotate my elbows forward. This slight movement cues me to depress my shoulder blades.
Actively retract the entire range of motion - not just pin. The entire ROM, get your shoulders back and down.
While lying down on the bench, really try to pull your shoulder blades together...really trying to pinch that vinyl or leather [of the bench] between my shoulder blades...during the entirety of the rep
In terms of your weight being in your shoulders, you should think about tucking your shoulder blades in so that they pull towards one another.
Extend your right arm out in front of you as if you’re going to bench. From this position, slowly turn your hand clockwise and feel what’s going on at your scapula. If you’re cued into your body, you should’ve felt your scapulae “screw” back and down towards your spine. Try this on both sides now – so with the right hand you’re turning clockwise, and on the left hand you’re turning counterclockwise.
Some people just like their shoulder blades pulled straight back. A lot of people like some scapular depression along with the retraction.
Pinch your shoulder blades together and pull your shoulders back behind you as far as possible.
Once I move back to put my upper back on the bench, I pull my shoulder blades together and down. The cue I like to use is to stuff your shoulder blades in your back pockets. You should be very uncomfortable in this position; everything should be extremely tight.
To create a solid base for bench press, pull your shoulders down and back. Think about pressing your shoulders into the pad and trying to put the tips of your scapula into your back pocket.
Keep a tight upper back. Try to bring both shoulder blades together. Imagine pinching a pencil between them. Keep that super tight. But more importantly, this tight upper back needs to be maintained throughout the whole lift.
For pulling your shoulder blades back, think about how you would finish with your shoulder blades pinched back on any sort of rowing exercise. For pulling your shoulder blades down, think about trying to “tuck” your shoulder blades into your back pocket. Another cue that might work well is to “screw” your shoulder blades back and down.
Protect shoulders + solid base
KEEP SHOULDERS BACK
People have to keep that bar stable. You don't want to bench and have that bar out and moving around... When his lats are tight, engaged, flexed, that bar's not going to move... I will have that bar as a broomstick and all I do is make them not be able to move when they're holding it. I don't want it to move any direction that I try to push it.
If you can't properly retract and depress the shoulder blades (benching with a flat back) then the shoulder is not going to be stabilized it's gonna lead to shoulder pain and possibly injury.
By keeping those muscles tight, you're gonna... balance the weight more efficiently and avoid a lot of shoulder injuries.
#1 reason to pack the shoulders is to take the rotator cuff out of the situation...pack the shoulders, pull them down to take stress off the shoulder capsule
Retracting and depressing your scapula in the setup of the Bench Press will help keep your chest high during the lift, reducing range of motion so you can lift heavier weights. It will also create a stable base to press from and that stability in your scapula will protect your shoulder from damage during heavy and hard training.
A lot of [injuries are] because the shoulder has rotated forward, you've got internal rotation, the scapula has winged, and there's an impingement to the anterior portion of the deltoid. So as long as you set up, you take your shoulders and scapula and tuck them together and down, this is gonna leave a lot of room in the shoulder joint.
Plant your feet
SET YOUR FEET
You don't want your heel to go [up and down] during the rep. If it's flat on the floor, it stays flat on the floor. It doesn't shuffle around and certainly doesn't move. That is gonna help your bench press tremendously because to keep your feet flat, you're gonna have to apply force... which is going to tighten the rest of the body up.
The other option besides having the feet tucked back behind (with the knee lower than the hip) is gonna be to have the feet out wide and usually out in front of the athlete. This is gonna be very common for bigger lifters, lifters maybe with a longer shin who aren't able to get that tucked back position, or if you just don't have the mobility in the quads and hips... we're still trying to achieve knee below the level of the hip.
What we want to create is pressure into the ground through both feet. Generally, I'd say a wider foot position is better, as that's going to lend itself to a bit more stability... Athletes who have their feet tucked back more aren't gonna get as much leg drive generally... We should be able to see her knee below the level of her hip. This is gonna help maximize tension throughout the leg. It's also gonna help ensure that her butt does not come off the bench.... trying to get as much foot down as possible is going to generally be better.
Your knees should probably be out past your toes... Because you're arched, your hips should be higher than your knees... You want to be pushing your knees outward... so your glutes are activated and your legs are stable. In a good set up, someone should be able to come from the side and push on any portion of your body, whether your legs, your torso or your arms - ANYTHING and they should not move.
After setting yourself up on the bench with your eyes in front of the barbell shoulders on the bench and your butt on the bench, you can move your feet as far back as possible while keeping them flat on the floor. Provided this is relatively comfortable, this can be your leg position for the bench.
If you are looking at the lifter from the side, aligning the knee below the hip on the horizontal plane is important to create tension through the legs and putting you in a position to maximize use of your legs throughout the lift. Lifters with longer legs may need to put their feet wide and in front of them to achieve this position. Shorter legged lifters and those with great flexibility in their legs and hips may be able to tuck their feet back more to achieve this position.
...the way I like to bench is with my feet tucked back and on my toes. I used to bench with my feet wide and with my heels down. However, with this way, I feel tighter, and it’s impossible for my butt to come off the bench. Although I’m on my toes, I still drive my heels down hard for leg drive.
Pull your feet back a bit and place them as far out to the side as your hips will allow. Your feet should wind up somewhere between your knees and your hips. This is the most common foot position because it still allows for a good arch, it’s easier to keep your whole foot on the ground in this position, and it’s easier to get leg drive with this foot position than with your feet pulled way back under your body.
Foot position is arguably the most important factor for both leg drive and keeping your butt on the bench. When observing truly great benchers, you'll notice they often take one of two foot-positions: Toes down/heels up with legs tucked tightly to the bench, or Heels flat with feet out wide. Either foot position works to prevent butt-lifting while maintaining a firm setup and powerful leg drive, but choosing which one works best for you depends on a few factors. Shorter lifters will have more success with heels up and legs tucked, while taller lifters do best with heels flat and feet out. This is simply because lifters come in all shapes and sizes while competition benches don't. Nearly all benches are 18 inches high, but if your femurs are 20 inches long, good luck getting your feet tucked behind you without shredding a hip flexor!
The first thing that we're gonna do is we're gonna set up our foot position so that we can get into the proper [arch]. So I'm gonna have his feet further out so that his knee is below his hip. This is gonna allow us to drive back into the bench, similar to squatting. You're gonna make the same motion. So he is now going to squeeze his glutes and externally rotate his knees outward, which is coming from his glutes and his hips. This is going to produce the most amount of force, recruiting the most amount of muscle, giving the most amount of stability, which is going to move the most amount of weight.
The exact spot that you put your feet will vary based on your leg length, the height of the bench, your personal preference, etc... It is ok if your heel comes up off the ground... find out what works for you. Now that the balls of your feet are cemented into the ground, I want you to flex your glutes as hard as you can. This is not only going to help you keep your butt on the bench, but it's going to ensure that you have a stable set up. If someone bumped either side of your legs, your knees should not move at all.
Your hips can only flex as high as your knee is... so when you bring your knee down lower than the bench pad, your hip can't flex higher than the bench pad.
Push butt toward shoulders
USE THE RACK
LEGS FIRST SETUP
TWO WAYS TO ESTABLISH ARCH
His hip is higher than his knee joint. That will allow him to get a lot of flexion... Now when he drives his legs back, it's actually gonna push him back onto his traps.
I teach this by placing my arms behind the lifter when they set up. I tell them to use their legs to drive into my arms as hard as they can. Usually, this gets the point across!
HIPS WEIGH ZERO
Once your shoulders are set, hold them in place by bracing your hands against the uprights of the bench, and use your legs to push your hips back toward your shoulders. Make sure you’re actively pushing your chest up, and not just arching your lower back without driving your chest up as well, since getting your chest higher is why arching “works” in the first place.
Now, have your friend stand by your head and use their hands to block your shoulders. Their goal is to keep you from sliding upward off the bench. Now, using your legs with your feet flat against the ground, push into their hands. What you should feel is a squeezing and supporting of the arch in your back
If you are not flexible, a great way to do it is start off by putting your feet on the bench and then you can just push your hands against the [rack], tuck your shoulders down and retracted, put your feet on the bench, and then push up into your arch. So keep in mind [your lower back] is not arching, [your upper back] is arching... When we're arching, our body should not go upward. lf the stomach is upward, that means you're arching with the wrong spot. You want your chest to be going up and back.
Tilt rib cage + press into traps
BENCH PRESS ARCH
We should have more of an even extension through that thoracic spine. Other cueing that we can use, is to... put my hand under or kind of between her scapulas... and say don't touch me. That tends to bias people a bit more into that extension as well. Again, we're not looking for a huge arch and we're not even looking for you to maximize your arch from a competitive standpoint. We just want a global arch to be formed so that you have better tension, better leg drive, and a better foundation to actually press from...
You don't want to be arching your lower back. That is probably not going to help you for two reasons: first of all, you're losing all the power that you could be transferring from your feet to the bar, and second of all you could be putting your back in a compromised position. You want to be arching your upper back... putting your upper back in that position allows you to also put your shoulders in a better position.
Glass and Armstrong (1997) examined the level of pectoral muscle activation between the decline press and incline press. They found that the decline press activated more lower pec fibers compared to the incline press, while the level of upper pec activation was similar between both lifts.
The inverse (decline) bench press is the most effective exercise for the pectoralis major as a whole.
He's going to drive himself up into the bench. You will feel your traps below you when this happens. He's gonna have an arch in his back I should be able to pass my hand through.
What we're looking for in an arch is a nice global curve from the upper back all the way to the tailbone... We're anchored at the glutes, we're anchored at the shoulders... So the only motion that's happening is from the upper arm and not from the shoulder blade flopping all over the place.
Start by anchoring your upper back into the bench. As you constantly retract your shoulder blades, rotate your shoulders down and under while you pick your chest up. This action locks in the lats and creates a stable arch
Protect + Involve
BENEFITS OF ARCHING
WHY YOU NEED TO ARCH
ROTATE YOUR CHEST
Reactive Training Systems
Touching the bar lower on your chest obviously shortens the range of motion, assuming you get a decent arch. Not only does this decrease the effort required to complete each rep with a given load, it also keeps you from having to go through extreme ranges of motion that will inherently be weaker.
You'll hear or read on the Internet is that this can cause a back injury by performing the bench this way... there's minimal compression and vertical loading of the spine when you're lying down, so overextension isn't too big of a problem from a purely mechanical analysis... There's probably some non-zero risk of back pain with performing an arch but it's probably not a big deal.
You need lateral stability from your legs when you bench press. Lifting your legs off the floor while you're lying on a bench makes zero sense, and only makes the movement dangerous.
You want to arch your back as much as you can...to avoid injuries to your pecs
Arched benching (especially with a retraction of the scapulae) allows a greater use of the lower fibers of the pectoralis major (chest) muscles. Not only is this pushing angle likely safer for the glenohumeral joint of the shoulder, it’s also conducive to the great use of the larger mass of lower fibers of the pectoralis, which creates a more forceful lift without sacrificing as much safety as a flat pressing position might.
Deep Breath + Top Offs
As Marissa brings the bar out, she takes big air in before the descent. She keeps the chest high, keeps that air in, presses and holds her air until she's back at the top of the lift. If it's a lighter set and you can move the bar pretty quickly, it would be fine for you to do multiple reps within the same breath, but what we definitely don't want is Marissa to take a big air in and then either breathe out with the bar on her chest or breathe out as she presses.
BREATHE AND BRACE BEFORE UNRACKING
I can never get as much air into my belly when I'm under load as I can without, so I get a huge belly breath and brace it down before I unrack the bar... That entire first rep is all on the same breath. I will do this for anywhere between one to three reps, depending on how many I'm going for. If at that point I need to take in more air, I will get my air at the top of the rep. So let's say I take my breath, I unrack the bar, I get three reps, and I need more oxygen. At lockout, I will rebreathe (take a couple little breaths), re-brace, huge belly breath, rebrace and then drop in for reps... then I just continue this pattern for as long as needed. Never EVER breathe when the barbell is in motion.
Taking my air before I unrack the bar and not letting it go... I find with the weight pushing down on me, I'm not able to get as big a chest or as much air as I can before I unrack the bar. So holding my breath a little bit longer has really allowed me to stay a lot tighter out of the rack and has also allowed me to be a lot more consistent.
Hold your breath throughout the duration of the rep. Take a deep, diaphragmatic breath before you start the descent, and release it once the bar is locked out, or at least nearing lockout. This will help you maintain tension and stability.
Try to not let all your air out between each rep, simply try to top each breath up at lock out. When you do take a full breath, reset. Make sure to keep your shoulders in place and keep your legs engaged, so as not to fall out of position.
Breathe before you unrack the bar, and not after... Breathing before you unrack the bar allows you to fully breathe and expand through the midsection without worrying about the weight in your hands. I’m sure we can all agree on the fact that it’s easier to breathe into your belly without 400 pounds in your hands...Proper breathing leads to being able to brace the midsection more effectively. The greater the bracing effect you create through your midsection, the more force that will transfer from the lower body into the bar.
Breathing before you unrack the bar allows you to fully breathe and expand through the midsection without worrying about the weight in your hands. Proper breathing leads to being able to brace the midsection more effectively. The greater the bracing effect you create through your midsection, the more force that will transfer from the lower body into the bar.
Breathing after you load your body with weight really limits your ability to expand and brace under load. Instead breathe deeply and fully before taking the weight out of the rack and if you need to reset, breathe at the top of the rep.
Stay Rigid + Transfer Energy
BREATHE BEFORE UNRACK
You should still be able to make a large belly when in this extended position. We have to keep in mind that in a bench press position, because you're so extended, all that air is going to the anterior portion of our midsection. So we should still be able to create that large belly draw down on the rib cage and produce [pressure in your abdomen].
Take a deep breath into your gut, pressing the air out against your belt (if you have one) and... puff your chest out... to expand your ribcage as much as possible.
This decreases the range of motion within the benchpress and also puts the musculature of the shoulder girdle at a better position to create force.
Take a deep breath into your stomach, just as you would for a squat or deadlift. This will help keep your torso rigid to transfer force from your hips to the bar when you use leg drive.
LEGO BENCH PRESS
You want to avoid excessive hyperextension of the wrist and you can correct this by thinking about punching the ceiling as a cue.
We're trying to create the most supportive position possible, which is gonna be the forearm supporting the bar. So the bar's gonna go right through the lower meat of her palm (the lower third of the palm) and a slight cock back of the wrist is acceptable... which is gonna allow the bar to sit right on top of the forearm.
Internally rotate your grip...and get the bar hooked deep in your palm... The bar is over the lowest portion of my palm/wrist.
Stack the wrist joint in such a way that there's no moment arm between the barbell and the eight bones of the wrist and the radius. We'd like to carry the bar as high as possible from an anatomical standpoint - high meaning towards the wrists versus low which would be towards the fingertips.
...take the bar low in the palm...[to avoid] putting the bar back behind the wrist... and I'll actually take a little bit of an internally rotated grip to get that weight on the right part of my palms where I like it. I'll grab the bar and I'll.. crank in so my wrists are now more...neutral as opposed internally rotated at the shoulder.
It is common that lifters’ become too concerned with keeping their wrist straight in the bench press and in keeping an overly straight wrist the bar tends to hang in the thumb, rather than be supported by the forearm. A slight bend back in the wrist will keep the bar stacked over the forearm in a more supported and stable position.
Placing the bar through the thickest part of your palm will be the safest and best place to press from. Too close to the fingers will cause too much stress on the wrist. Too close to the wrist can cause a disastrous slip of the bar off the hand.
Once you’ve set your hand position, try and place the bar as close to your thumb as possible. This will help keep the wrist aligned in a neutral position, which will not only improve your performance but decrease the likelihood of injury as well.
BENCH PRESS GRIP
An important factor in determining grip width should be whether or not your joints are stacked from the rear position (meaning the wrist should be roughly positioned over the elbows)... A max width of roughly 1.5 times shoulder-width is best for reducing injury without seriously compromising maximal strength... Make sure you have your wrist joints stacked... directly below your knuckles.
When the bar is on the athlete's chest, the bar is stacked right over the wrist, and the wrist is stacked right over the elbow.
How wide you set your grip is going to be different for every single person because we're all built differently. That said, if you get a wider grip you will shorten the range of motion and that is a good thing. However, your shoulder risk goes up a LOT so wider grip I typically don't recommend most people do. Sticking your hands at the side of your shoulder is going to be throwing most that force on your triceps, and you're going to take a lot of your chest out of it. Which is like playing a sport with a man down, so it's not smart. If you're trying to bench as much as possible, you want to use every single muscle that you can possibly get. For most people, sticking your hands just outside your shoulders will keep your arms perpendicular to the bar running at a 90 degree angle - almost like pillars on a building. Pillars support weight, so I think that's probably the best option.
SQUEEZE THUMB TO PINKY
Focus on squeezing the bar a bit extra hard with your pinkie, and that's going to help create a little bit more internal rotation tension in the shoulder.
Number one: I'm squeezing that bar as hard as possible... Your body works synergistically. If you cannot open a jar, squeeze the jar. Your body is like an electrical circuit; if you are not creating force everywhere that you can potentially create force, which includes squeezing your hands on every single lift, then you're leaving reps out there with unicorns and the ether.
Squeeze the bar as hard as possible. This makes everything more stable, gives you a better bar path, and creates more shoulder stability via the irradiation principle. It'll also make the bar feel lighter.
One of the biggest aspects to benching huge weight is having an iron grip to the bar. You want to crush that bar for all it’s worth to get optimal muscular activation and to amplify the nervous system.
Squeeze the shit out of it. This will activate all the muscles in your hands, forearms, and triceps, and reinforce the tightness from your lower body and torso to the bar. You should be pretty damned uncomfortable.
SQUEEZE THE BAR. If you can un-rack the bar and still wiggle your fingers you aren’t squeezing hard enough. Squeeze the pinky side of each hand.
Squeezing the bar sends a signal to the rotator cuff – through a process called irradiation – to pack itself. This provides more stability to the shoulder joint, which is never a bad thing when you're trying to hoist heavy loads off your chest. Squeezing the bar can also help create a more beneficial wrist position. A neutral wrist can squeeze a bar much more effectively than a hyper-extended one.
BEND THE BAR TO FEET
PULL THE BAR APART
CREATE FULL BODY TENSION
Try to bend the bar like a horseshoe... You are not going to be able to NOT grip that bar as hard as you possibly can, and... it's also gonna lock in your lats, which is gonna allow you to keep your elbows tucked into the set.
Grip the bar like you would in a traditional grip, but slide the thumb out. When the thumb is spread out from the other fingers, it is left to serve more as an anchor to allow you to bend the bar effectively, while yielding similar benefits from a false grip. It is a best-of-both-worlds scenario that works tremendously for lifters. Those having a hard time tuning in with their lats will benefit immensely from this grip.
...bend the bar apart to engage my lats better. Basically, think about externally rotating your hands as you bench. Once I was able to get the hang of this, I was able to engage my lats like never before. I felt much tighter, and the tighter you are, the safer you are, and the stronger you will be. Once I start to bring the bar down, I try to bend it in half and flare my lats as hard as I can.
Aim to twist their pinky fingers towards their toes. Bending the bar in this manner allows you to engage the lats optimally.
Pull the bar from the rack
USE THE THIPS TO UNRACK
PULL THE BAR TOWARD FEET
You may want to keep your butt elevated for the liftoff component and then drop your hips down once you've unwracked.
I raise my butt off the bench, I lift the bar out of the rack, and then I put my butt back down exactly where it was before. This changes the pivot point of the lift so the bar actually moves out in front of the J hooks so now you're clear to bench.
Think about lifting the bar out, not up.
You just want to pull this out of the rack as little as possible - just enough to get over these hooks. Actually, you can think about scraping the bar against the hooks... that'll help you to make sure that you're doing it efficiently. You won't be picking it up too much and it's gonna keep your upper back tight...and I'm gonna position it so that it's directly over my sternum right at the center of my chest.
Most importantly here is you maintain the tension from your setup to get the bar into position...When I unrack, breath, triceps...it's just enough to clear the hooks and then we pull the bar into position...
Don’t try to press the bar out of the rack, wasting energy. Use your lats, and think of it as a straight arm pulldown...The bar should just clear the J hooks of the bench and smoothly be brought out.
Think about pulling your shoulders into the bench towards the floor. At this same time pull the ribs to the bar HARD. You should feel the weight loading straight into your upper back, pinning your shoulders down - this is good.
“Pull” the bar out using your lats. If you’ve ever performed a pullover of any type, you know what I’m talking about here. The goal is to “pull” the bar out, so you barely clear the racks. This will help you maintain your upper back stability and positioning, while getting you into the appropriate position to bench. DO NOT press the bar up and out to clear the racks; you’ll lose your upper back tension, and therefore, your stability.
Instead of pushing the bar up and out, which loads your shoulders and takes you out of position, wedge your shoulders into the pad and use the bar to push your body into the bench. Think about dragging the bar out instead.
Set the bar at the maximum height you can reach, so that when you take the bar out, you’re just barely clearing the hooks... without doing a half rep.
When you push the bar up, you take yourself out of position and load your shoulders. Instead, dig your shoulders in and think about using the bar to drive your body deeper into the pad. DRAG the bar out of the rack.
Bar over shoulder blades
Move the bar down the body to the point where the lats start to engage. The shoulder blades sink even further from their set up position and it drives the chest up and forces as much extension as we can get through the upper back...the bar will start to feel almost almost weightless at that point.
...Unrack the bar and begin moving it up and down your body with locked out arms. It is important to do this with your eyes closed! Just tune in to how the bar feels as you move it from your neck to your belly and back again. Take note of where the bar seems to become weightless. Find the exact spot the bar becomes weightless and drop the bar straight down.
Too often, we stop with the bar over our face. Allow the lift-off to come out to the same position where we’d like to finish the lift. Ideally, this is just below nipple line, or about 2/3rds of the way down our chest.
If you take this bar out and your arms aren't fully locked out, you are going to be putting stress on that tricep to hold that weight where it needs to be. But if you get your arms locked out, now you can load into your back.... which is huge for stability.
Stabilize bar + pin shoulders
If you look at the J cups here, you see how all the paint's just tore to shit because we're pulling [the bar] over right them... you pull [straight out] all that stays locked in... you're actually flexing your lats harder so it becomes more stable at the top.
It's critical to bring the bar just out. You don't want to bring it up and out, as bringing the bar up and out would likely cause her to lose that great tight upper back position.