Bench pressing - Lock out weakness ... what to do

pgmunn

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I have always had a problem with my lock out on the bench press. I could get the weight launched off my chest and to about half way up then I would stall. I watched a number of tubes on it and studied L. Simmons take on it, and came down to a couple of conclusions. The weight may not be moving fast enough off my chest to get the weight to the point where I could lock it out, and/or I needed to strengthen the lift from the point it stalled to the lock out position.

For the speed end of the equation, I started using less weight on the bar and a lot heavier band tension. I used the heavier green jump stretch bands and tied them to the bottom of the bench press bench on each side by looping ( multiple loops depending on the tightness I wanted at the top) them around the bottom cross members of the weight support bars. I would then pull the bands up on each side and wrap them around the bar and move them to just out side the farthest ring so they would not interfere with my hand placement. By using the heavier bands and getting them very tight, I know I would need help from a spotter to get the weight out over my chest for benching. I only put on one 45 a side for my work sets. The bar's heaviness would drop to about maybe 225-250lbs at the bottom ( that is how tight I had the bands ) but would be from 400 – 475lbs at the top. This type of lift increased my speed at the bottom cause I had to explode off the bottom or the tension at the top would just snap the bar back down if I didn't get it to lock out. I did 3-4 work sets of those of 2 -3 reps a couple times a week when I was trying to increase BP speed. That is mostly I did for speed work along with paused bench presses at the bottom no bands And it helped significantly

To strengthen the top part of my lift ( half way up to lockout) I used the smith machine set at mid point height for the bench and pin presses in the squat rack set up for benching from mid point of the BP as well. I would do my warm up sets first to flush the benching muscles with blood. Then the weight would be piled on the smith machine to about 3 ¾ plates a side (340 lbs) and I would crawl under the bar and push to lockout for 3-4 reps then start increasing the weight. I would increase the weight so that on about the forth set I was struggling quite hard for a couple maybe one rep. Pin presses put a lot of strain on the shoulder stabilizers so I was very careful with this exercise and tried to achieve very good technique. I would crawl under the bar, squeeze it, tightening the back and squeeze the shoulders into their sockets and push them back and down toward my butt so I got an arch without bringing my butt off the bench, I also set my legs so they were tight as well before I benched. It was important to be tight everywhere especially the prime movers prior to doing the lift as the stabilizers were then supported and protected during the lift (no one wans strained shoulder muscles or impingement – I hate shoulder pain).
With the smith machine the stabilizers are removed mostly from the lift so shoulder issues were never a problem. I would do the same sets and reps as on the smith machine adding weight on so my last set I was lucky to grind out 1 or 2. I found with the pin presses at mid height with heavy weight you really had to push like hell to get the weight going off the pins ... but once it was up and going you mostly succeeded with the lock out. After these 2 exercises on one day I would stop as I knew I would be sore as hell the next day.

Using these techniques I was able to break through my bench weakness ... dying half way up on the lift

What has everyone else done?
 

zenmonky

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my improvements with westside techniques has me all in with conjugate periodization. first technique i couldn't believe worked so well. light day of 3r * 60% of max for 7 to 10 sets for speed.
the other was a lot less flat benching. i started to rotate exercises more that were indirect to bench pressing. i can remember exactly what i was doing but i was only doing a heavy exercise for 3 weeks then rotating. like lowest incline bells, weighted dips, heavy pull overs from the floor then back to bench. sometimes instead id workout with other lifter do specific excercises like benching with bands , chains, pins , blocks.
my biggest problem during my big benches my brain would turn off. after id lockout, id automatically rack. happened a couple of time in competition. one of the problems of training without a coach.
 

pgmunn

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my improvements with westside techniques has me all in with conjugate periodization. first technique i couldn't believe worked so well. light day of 3r * 60% of max for 7 to 10 sets for speed.
the other was a lot less flat benching. i started to rotate exercises more that were indirect to bench pressing. i can remember exactly what i was doing but i was only doing a heavy exercise for 3 weeks then rotating. like lowest incline bells, weighted dips, heavy pull overs from the floor then back to bench. sometimes instead id workout with other lifter do specific excercises like benching with bands , chains, pins , blocks.
my biggest problem during my big benches my brain would turn off. after id lockout, id automatically rack. happened a couple of time in competition. one of the problems of training without a coach.
Totally agree with your method as I used west side as well, speed and max effort days, rotating main exercises and using a lot of different assistance work after the main exercises. I really liked different level blocks/boards as an assistance exercise.
Haha ... my mistake on the benches at competitions was not a long of enuff pause as I was thinking of driving it up and would miss the pause. Corrected that by doing a lot of pause pressing just before competition. Never had a coach either, so i videoed my self a lot and watched my technique.. that helped a lot, would have better to have had a coach... wasn't a lot pf people doing powerlifting in the late 1990's in NB.
 

Cumminstech2

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Chains or board presses

every chain link that leaves the ground is extra weight. The higher you go in your press, the heavier the weight you are pressing gets. Very good for improving the top part of a bench because it gets increasingly heavier as you come to the top.

Also if you pressed to a 2-4 inch board (depending on where you get stuck) then you will not be going deep enough to work the lower part of your bench much and will be solely improving on the top part of the lift.

more tricep work also helps.
 

pgmunn

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Chains or board presses

every chain link that leaves the ground is extra weight. The higher you go in your press, the heavier the weight you are pressing gets. Very good for improving the top part of a bench because it gets increasingly heavier as you come to the top.

Also if you pressed to a 2-4 inch board (depending on where you get stuck) then you will not be going deep enough to work the lower part of your bench much and will be solely improving on the top part of the lift.

more tricep work also helps.
Honestly I should have used chains more as the couple of times I used them I found they really helped the shoulder stabilizers a lot as the chans gave some wobble at each end of the bar if you did not hold it even and steady. The only reason I used the bands a lot more as goodlife never use to carry bands or chains up until a year ago and it was a lot easier to carry bands in than a load of chains. I mostly work out at home now so I am going to look into getting some chains.

I do like board pressing at different levels, so yep u can work sticking points at all levels.
Triceps and back are the biggest movers in a powerlifting bench press so working triceps is essential... Did a lot of heavy press downs, kick backs - lol ... just kidding, close grip dips, skull crushers etc.
 
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