Keeping Your Butt On The Bench
Benching didn’t come naturally to me, and it took me 7 years of training from the time I was 14 to the age of 21 in order to bench 225 in my first meet. Needless to say, I went from a 225 bench to 295 in 6 months as a powerlifter and after more years of training I’ve recently broken the 400 pound barrier and benched 418 at 242. Along with getting stronger, I have become MUCH more technical with my setup and execution of the lift since I have started. On a good day, the bench press is the lift where I have the most technical proficiency & don’t need much intervention in the way of coaching. On any other day, I still encounter issues with raising my butt off the bench while pressing a heavy single. A lot of newer lifters face this problem, and oftentimes don’t know how to properly address it. Let’s quickly go over some finer points on your setup that can make the difference between being red lighted at a meet and officially hitting a new PR.
- The almost surefire way to minimize the chances of your butt coming off the bench is to spread your stance out as part of your setup. Most powerlifters will engage leg drive as they press, and as the bar goes up lifters will unconsciously raise their butt as their heels are planting through the floor. This is due to the hips raising as leg drive is being used. Spread out your legs, and when you bench with a wider stance you’ll notice that it’s much harder for your hips to come off the bench as you use leg drive.
- Parlaying to the use of leg drive – drive your heels through the floor BEFORE the lift even starts. You don’t want your lower body to be a loose goose as you’re controlling the bar down then suddenly try to stabilize everything upon pressing. Keep your leg drive going from the beginning of the set until the end. It is fine to apply more even force into your heels upon pressing, but stay planted at all times.
- As you set up on the bench, make sure that all your bodyweight is shifted onto your upper back & rhomboids. Ideally, you don’t want the weight of the bar causing any load onto your lower back – this can cause you to pull it and make for a very uncomfortable time. It is easier for everything to fire off properly & maximize control when the upper back, shoulders and arms are stabilizing the weight. I personally don’t think that lats are a cue to feel out control during a raw bench, but they definitely play a role in stabilization & pressing right off the chest.
- Don’t throw the bar back towards the rack too early. While it is possible to finish out a bench when you’ve pressing it back towards the rack a little too early, the risk of raising your butt off the mat to control a maximum load is very present. A perfect bar path will reduce any chances of other things happening as you press.
Those are some cues I can think of that even I should read over and over before I bench heavy. Just like any lift, getting better at benching doesn’t happen overnight and it takes years of practice to become good at it. I’m still working on mine, and hope to catch up towards being a Top 50 lifter in 2017. You will be able to catch up as well if you keep working on weak points, both in terms of your muscle groups and your technique. Until then, TRAIN LIKE A MUSCLEBEAR AND GO APESHIT AT THE GYM! Just film your bench set from the front so no one sees you raising your butt a lil bit.