Part V: So You Think You Can Bench?

TAGS: Hachat, form, tate, bench

By this point in the process, I wasn’t anywhere near an expert, but things were starting to click.

Perfect form is still years and millions of repetitions away, but my bench press form has come a long way in a short time. Plus, it all made sense and I was starting to understand why everything was done, why it was done in the order it what done and how a proper bench press benefits from every little thing.

In this section, Dave pointed something out to me that I would have never figured out (that running total is getting pretty high in this series) or even thought about. He listed the reasons why he had me pushing in a straight line instead of flaring my elbows, none of which would have been readily apparent to me had I tried this on my own. When he had me flare my elbows – or at least attempt to – the barbell fell behind my elbow and it didn’t look good.

This is vital information I wouldn’t have realized had I been doing this on my own.

For my structure and to bench raw, pushing in a straight line works best for me. The barbell stays in line with my wrist and elbow, and that is ideal. It might not be the way to go for everyone, but those pointers and the indicators in this video might help someone figure out what is best for them. It may seem like a small thing, but all of these small things add up to big things, which is one of the several reasons my pressing wasn’t very strong. Correcting all of them won’t magically make me a record-holder, but at least I’ve given myself great potential for growth.

Before, with bad form (no tightness at all, no leg drive, no arch, etc.), there was likely only a certain point I could reach. Now, thanks to the endless tips and help from Dave, I can blow past all of that. It will still take time, but now I have that option.

From here, my biggest problems remain staying tight in my upper back and getting in the correct starting position. I will constantly have to remember those cues when benching to correct that.

This video also reiterates how important a proper set-up is. Like Dave says, the set-up should take longer than the set and it should be exhausting. Watching Dave get set – and seeing how red his face got – let me know just how true that is. It gives me something to shoot for down the road as well.

I’ve done four bench workouts since this first video and the results are already there.

I’m currently following 5/3/1 and on the first day, I did three more reps with the same weight.

A week later, I jumped up 10 pounds and matched my reps and I’m confident it could have been a 15-pound jump.

On the third session, I jumped five reps from the same weight, giving me a bench press PR (and a projected raw max of around 325 – stop laughing!). I continued to improve on my fourth session, adding two more reps to what is a 15-pound jump from my first session.

This remains a work in progress as I have a ways to go to perfect my technique, but it’s a start and I’m already in a much better place than I was before.

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