Build a bigger bench press with paused reps
The flat barbell bench press is a compound exercise, which primarily targets the chest, triceps and shoulders and is staple in the vast majority of gym goers and an exercise that people will often like to improve upon the most. “how much do you bench?” Or “what are you benching now?” It is often the first question some individuals will ask one another when talking about the gym and is frequently the busiest station in the gym more so on a Monday evening with it often referred to “international chest day”. Therefore you can see why individuals may often search for ways to improve upon this.
Improve Your Bench Press Technique
Of course the easiest way to improve your bench press could be to firstly perform the exercise with better form and setting up for the lift correctly. Hand position on the bar is one way, which can quickly improve your efficiency. For example, how wide or narrow you grip the bar is often very subjective and you will need to find out what works for you best as everyone is built slightly differently although, the wider you grip the bar the shorter the distance the bar will have to travel. Another way to improve your set up is to have a slight arch in your back. This is to minimise the distance the bar has to travel. As the bar has to touch the body and then go back to an arms-locked position you want to minimise distance. Also, by retracting your shoulders back can also help minimise the chance of injury through reducing the amount of stress placed on your deltoids.
The Paused Bench Press
Now there are some exercises, which can be performed to assist the bench press and improve your strength that will transfer over to your standard bench press. These exercises improve weak or sticking points in the bench press for example, the paused bench press. The paused bench press has the same set up as the bench press but with a second or two seconds pause at the bottom of the lift (or when the bar touches your chest). The Paused Bench Press increases the time under tension at the bottom. It develops force to push through the sticking point on your regular bench press, which is often where people struggle on the lift and where you don’t want to be with the bar stuck on your chest without a spotter!
This pause takes much of the stretch reflex out of the equation and forces you to lift the weight without the elasticity of the muscle helping out which is built up through the lowering part of the lift. This indeed makes the lift much harder and while you’ll be handling less weight than you would with your standard bench press, it will ultimately build much more strength and also, allow you to spend more time working on your technique with the sub maximal loads.