Improving Bench Press Lockout Strength
A Dr. Squat poster finds that his bench press is strong off the chest but he encounters a sticking point about 3/4 of the way up. He wants to know how to work that sticking point.
I have always been pretty strong off the chest when it comes to bench pressing, and I can typically "squeeze out" the lockout if it starts to stall, however, I have noticed that although the weight moves quickly off my chest, I hit a sticking point at about the 3/4 mark. Here is a raw touch'n go training single with me bench pressing 400# plus a couple of collars. This is pretty representative of my bench press form. I have predominantly done bench presses with extra long pauses (2-3 seconds) for sets of 5 reps to build the strength off my chest and lying triceps extensions for lockout power. I have never tried board presses, but I have doen lockouts in a power rack as well as floor presses before. Any suggestions?
Lots of great top end bench building ideas are given:
I don't know how close to your max that is, but it looks like you aren't using your lower body much, if at all. I would start with that.
Try bands as a way to help with your lock-out strength. Really try to explode throughout the entire range of motion for each rep when using bands. Also try isometrics at your sticking point.
you're in the driver's seat because there are so many effective variations for the bench that work the top portion, mainly because thats the money spot if you're using a shirt. I struggle mightily off the chest and would love to be in your position.
i can't tell where the bar is when hit your chest but that make a difference to .i use 3 boards press , reverse band , rack preses at your sticking point,
Try using chains or bands that should help your triceps out alot.
I dont like chains, too wobbly and unpredictable.
Bands work great, but can be very dangerous and can actually damange the tendon-ligament if done too much, but they do work by increasing the dynamic load, at the top end of the bench, lockout.
I like working with a shirt. It forces you to perfect the drive and speed off the chest and overtime, helps you to push thru bigger lockouts and make your triceps much stronger.
Set the pins at the proper height in the power rack, board presses, floor presses et.al., are ok, but pin presses seem to have been forgotten in the quest to come up with "new" stuff.
How about a novel idea that's worked for me.
A variant on chains.
Measure the total travel distance of your bench press, then hang a length of chain on each side of the barbell with a weight plate attached to it. The idea is for the chain part of the movement (the upper part of the movement) to be heavier than the initial part.
You want the extra-weighted upper part to be no more than half the movement. In the case of working on lockout power, it would be the upper 1/3 of the movement.
How much weight you add to the chains depends on what you find comfortable and effective. Also, the shorter the "chained" part of the movement is, the more the attached plates can weigh in relation the the "base" weight.
When the bar is on your chest, and through the first 2/3 of the press, the plate(s) on the end of the two chains are still resting on the floor, so you're only lifting the base weight. The upper one third "engages" the additional weight.
Most of you will recognize this as a variant on the Westside chain workouts. The difference is that it is more of a progressive resistance exercise than a percentage one. It can also be adapted to speed work and regular progressive resistance.
Works great for squats as well.
4 or 5 board presses with a lot of band tension have really helped the top of my press. Lockouts are ok but i havent found them to be as effective for improving my top end strength. I also like to do reverse cambered bar presses really works the stabilizers to a higher degree than board presses. Other movements that have helped either myself or my training partners are pushups with a strong band around your back, creates a hell of a lot of tension at the top. these are done at the end of a workout for 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps.
You'd have a better carry over on bench by doing close grip bench press or close/medium grip decline press for triceps than isolation exercises.
I primarily rotate between Boards, floor press, and racks.
This is mostly due to limited equipment in my gym.
I also tend to longer range of motion on these movements.
But recently I have been in a renassance with the higher boards. That being 4, or 5 boards. Going very heavy,and really getting used to the heavy weight.