Wondering how to handle the sticking point in your bench press? The answer is simple: build stronger triceps! How? Read the article below to find out.
The triceps have three distinct heads – the lateral, medial and long heads – and all three of them need to get developed in order to build explosive triceps strength.
The bench press, which is a powerful upper body exercise, is one of the most popular ways to build bigger chest, but most guys usually experience a sticking point in their bench press that seems impossible to overcome, despite their good overall progress. This is when strong triceps become much more than an accessory to the movement — at this point, they can make or break that rep.
These are the ultimate exercises you can use to help strengthen the triceps through this critical phase of your bench and accelerate your progress:
1. Close-grip bench press
The close-grip bench press is an excellent exercise for strengthening the triceps because it provides a longer range of motion for the triceps and allows more weight to be used. However, keep in mind if your grip is too close, or less than 6 inches apart, you’ll end up placing too much stress on your wrists and elbow joints instead of the triceps. Lie down on the bench and place your hands a little narrower than shoulder-width apart on the bar. Keep your elbows pointing straight ahead as you lower the bar to your chest. Press the bar up with an explosive movement, elbows pointing straight ahead.
2. Bands and chains
Bands and chains are one of the most trendy tools in the gym nowadays, but they’re much more than fancy gym accessories. In fact, some of the strongest powerlifters in the world include bands and chains in their training routines because these tools increase the intensity of the movement by allowing maximum loading at every point of the range of motion. The bands are huge rubber bands that connect the bar with the bench/floor, while the chains are long and heavy links of chains that hang down from the bar, and both of them are made to provide more of what is known as linear variable resistance, or progressively increasing the resistance with the range of motion.
Simply put, as the resistance increases and the range of motion lengthens, the number of muscle fibers activated in the muscle increases as well, resulting with insane growth and strength gains. Therefore, adding bands and chains to your routine can provide you with the right amount of intensity you need in order to build denser triceps in less time.
3. Floor press
The floor press is an upper body movement that allows you to press massive weights without risking shoulder injury since most of the stress is focused on the chest and triceps, while the range of motion is shorter. Keep in mind that the whole movement should be performed with proper form and in a slow and controlled manner for best results. Set up the bar in a squat rack so that it’s a few feet off the ground. Lie on your back with the legs fully extended and position yourself under the bar so that your eyes are directly under it. Grip the bar with the same grip-width you normally use on the bench press.
For a safe press, keep the elbows tucked at 45 degrees, but avoid having a too narrow grip – try to keep the wrists and elbow joints directly underneath the bar. Unrack the bar and lower it under control towards your chest until the upper arms touch the ground. From this position, press the bar up explosively, extending the tucked elbows and maintaining alignment of the wrist, elbow and bar.
4. Board bench press
Board presses are a great way to directly target bench press sticking points because they allow you to handle heavier weights with a targeted range of motion. To perform the board bench press, start by lying down on a bench and place your head beyond the bar. Place several (one to five, depending on your goals) wooden boards that are screwed together on your chest. Arch your back, squeeze your shoulder blades together and keep your whole body in a tight position.
Take a shoulder-width grip to focus the stress on the triceps and keep the bar, wrist and elbow aligned all throughout the movement. As you lower the bar towards your chest, the boards will limit how far down you can lower the bar. Lower the bar to the boards, then press it up explosively.
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