Looking to lift your bench press game?
When we perform a bench press, it’s not just our chest doing all the hard work. While the pectoralis major is the primary contender, several other muscles are activated during the process including shoulders, back and triceps. If you’re aiming to lift big, it’s important to train all of the muscles involved by incorporating some bench press accessory work into your training.
These bench press alternatives work to enhance both the eccentric and concentric phases of the bench press.
Bench Press with Chains or Bands
Chains or bands can be incorporated into your bench press to assist with increasing speed and learning to explode the weight as you hit the lockout. As the weight is lowered to your chest, the chains gather in a pile on the floor. As you press the weight up, the chains will follow, consequently adding more weight. Bands can be used as an alternative and are considered even more effective than chains, however should be used in moderation as they take a bigger toll on the body. Try interchanging between the two over the course of a few weeks.
Whether using chains or bands, aim for fast explosive reps and work to accelerate the start of your lift, and lockout at the finish.
This bench press accessory targets and isolates the upper body, engaging the pecs, shoulders and triceps. It’s key in developing your lockout, increasing top range bench press strength and is a great alternative if you’re looking to relieve some stress from the lower back and shoulder joints. To set up for this movement, lie flat on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Leave a slight arch in the back while bringing the shoulder blades back. With speed, lower the bar until the upper arm is flat on the floor. Then push the bar to the starting position, ensuring elbows are tucked in at all times.
By getting a feel for holding an increased weight, you’re also working on building confidence!
Close/Wide Grip Bench
A close grip works to build strong triceps and improve your lockout strength. Triceps are the key muscle group that need to be developed if you want to see serious results in your bench-pressing abilities. They are the prime movers in the second half of the bench press, from 90 degrees through to the lockout. By lengthening the range of motion, this movement places a heavy load on the triceps for an increased time. For the exercise, your grip should be shoulder width and elbows should be tucked in. Lower your elbows to a point just below the nipples and from here, drive the bar to the starting position.
A wide grip targets a larger number of muscles, so by shortening the range of motion, you are able to get the bar deeper and focus on building your tricep strength.
These key bench press assistance exercises will develop strength in key areas and leave you feeling more powerful and confident under the bar!