Hannah Altman – How To Drive Through Your Shoulders In Bench Press
Think About Those Lats!
In this article we are going to focus on how we can use the bench to create torque and drive that bench PB, moving on from last article’s focus on the arch.
Your feet should be positioned wherever they feel most comfortable when you are benching but ensuring that they are not going to slip and that they are providing a stable base to keep your bum on the bench. The goal of your foot position is that it is going to allow you to generate power from your legs to your upper back. That’s where the power comes from.
As you get more and more elite with bench-press you start to notice that everything makes a difference down to the shirt that you are wearing. If you wear a shirt that does not have good grip it is easy to slip out of your arch. In this case, your shoulders will no longer be even on the bench and you will no longer be in a position to drive into the bench with your upper back.
Some people think that bench is all chest and triceps but a major component is back strength wrist stability, core strength, ankle, thoracic and hip flexibility. We are going to focus on what the lats are doing during the bench press. This muscle can actually make or break your bench press and, surprise, this muscle is in your back.
The latissimus dorsi muscles, otherwise known in gym bro language as lats, are the large v-shaped muscles that connect your arms to your vertebral column. This is a series of approximately 33 bones called vertebrae, which are separated by intervertebral discs. The column can be divided into five different regions: the cervical, thoracic, lumber, sacrum and coccyx. Each of these regions is characterised by a different vertebral structure. They help protect and stabilize your spine, while providing shoulder and back strength. Your lats also help with shoulder and arm movement and support good posture.
If boosting your numbers on the bench is your goal, this requires building a bigger back. This will carry over to your other lifts.
When using your back the best way to think about things is to bench on your shoulders. But the key is to not lose your shoulder positioning on the bench when you unrack the bar. Once you have the bar in your hands the best thing to do is think about trying to break the bar. The goal is to create power and torque in the shoulder joints. This comes from actively engaging your lat. As you press, you should feel your back muscles tightening and this will help you get through those nasty sticking points when you’re trying to get that PB and help prevent any shoulder injuries. This will also put you in a stable position on the bench, which should help ensure that you are even and won’t move.
Next time we will be looking at how to build those lats for a bigger bench-press.
A recommendation for a good bench shirt is SBD or Iron Underground shirts: They stick to the bench and are approved by World Powerlifting.
About the Author:
Hannah Altman is a qualified exercise scientist BHS| BCOM | MPHIL and Strength Coach Fitrec, a Pilates instructor and Nutrition Coach PN1 Elemental L2, focusing on injury prevention for strength athletes. She is currently studying for her doctorate at Queensland University of Technology.
She holds multiple junior bench-press records, the current one being 95kg and has a top bench-press of 103kg at 69kg body weight. She is ranked in the top 20 in Australia based on Wilks in all three lifts and in Bench-Press.
She is currently coaches out of Iron Underground in Albion, Brisbane and online.
To book a complementary session; to get a 10% discount for rehab, prehab or just performance and to increase your bench, choose from the options below. Contact Hannah on 0452285271.