Best Bench Cue You’ve Never Heard Of

In the bench we have movement at two main joints, the shoulder and the elbow. Just like in the squat where we aim for the most efficient use of both the hips and knees, we need to put priority on doing the same for the bench press. I talk about all the time the importance of having an even break at the knees and hips in the squat, but in the bench press it is a bit different. For the most part, I want my lifters to ignore their shoulders. What I mean by this is that a quality setup that places the lifters shoulders in a retracted and depressed position while elevating the rib cage takes care of placing the shoulders into their optimal movement pattern. From there, the main thing we should do when initiating the bench press is to “break at the elbows”. Too often lifters over-exaggerate movement at the shoulder, which coincides with over-tucking the elbows, an over emphasis on the lats, and a touch point that is too low. In all 3 above examples (CLICK HERE) of Jesse, Patrick, and Lorenzo, we can see when they over-exaggerate the shoulder movement that it creates an odd sticking point off the chest as they try to press the bar back. The reason for this is they have positioned themselves to where they are having to heavily relying on the anterior deltoids, a fairly weak muscle, to in sense “front raise” the bar back and up over their shoulders. For all 3 of these lifters, cueing them to “break at the elbows” created the proper elbow flare and touch point to create more a efficient press. This cue not only takes care of the shoulder movement and over tucking issue but it also is my main go to, along with grip position, to help lifters learn to flare their elbows and internally rotate properly. All in all, unlike the squat where we need to focus on breaking evenly at the hips and knees, in the bench press we should prioritize “breaking at the elbows” to create a stacked joint position that creates a more efficient bench press.

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