JM Blakley is an expert in combining physics with powerlifting. We’ve heard him speak about triceps and the mental acumen it takes to make progress. Now, he works with Yessica and Lily to improve bench press form.

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His first note is that you have to get your body in the right position as a good base. He recommends starting at the back of the bench, then laying down. From there, lift your shoulders and then your hips. Then, lower your hips first, followed by your shoulders. Remember to place more weight in your shoulders. You don’t need your feet for this lift, so let’s not focus on that.

As your weight is placed in your shoulders, they press into the bench. You want to imagine a straight line of weight into the ground. It is important not to push your hips up, but rather flex them back.

One thing to keep in mind is that the more you work on your back flexibility for more of an arch, the better you prime yourself for a great lift. Another tip is to think about bringing your chest to the bar instead of the bar to your chest. This helps you maintain good form. By throwing your chest up, you put the bench movement further up your shoulders for more leverage. Chest up, shoulders back.

In terms of your weight being in your shoulders, you should think about tucking your shoulder blades in so that they pull towards one another. Additionally, here’s a radical idea: Never take another lift off or rack yourself again. It’s a bad habit and can alter your stable base. Have someone help you with this so that you are not moving your shoulders around too much with heavy weight on them.

Once your base is solid and you have someone helping you rack and lift off, think about keeping your lift movement short. In other words, don’t follow through with your shoulders; keep your shoulders on the bench. The idea is that you are letting the bar go through your body. A short stroke means you get a better max lift. In addition, taking a wider grip also sets you up for success.

If you’re a little confused, JM puts it this way:

“Let’s have a race. You run 100 meters and I’ll run 90 meters. I’m already at an advantage, you see?”

Another key point JM makes is not to rush anything. Every detail matters and it’s important to work hard at the set-up level. When you move too fast, you pull yourself out of optimal position due to the momentum and then you have to reset every rep. Going fast might work for one rep, but if you are doing multiple, take it slow. You don’t want your shoulders to move around too much, or else you’ll lose stability. Form matters. He explains that you want to be in 100 percent position, not 99, not 95, not 90.

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To round it off, remember that your bench is based on good form and slow, steady movements. Keep your weight in the shoulders. After all, if you’re going to jump high, you have to push down into the ground. The same applies to the bench press. Yessica also puts it as the difference between dropping a ball on Jell-O versus cement. Which will bounce higher?

So moving forward, put some extra thought into how you set up for your bench press. 100 percent bench press form can make all the difference.

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