Imagine Rugby Blogs

The bench press

Helping to improve your upper body strength

Posted Sep 19, 2010 by Tips and Techniques

The bench press

A quick note first - if you are unsure what you’re doing with any exercise, make sure you seek professional advice before starting any programme. Also, make sure you warm up and cool down properly as this will help you to avoid the chances of injury.
To the exercise – the bench press is arguably the best way to develop raw upper body strength. It is not sports specific as you will never be pushing whilst supported on a bench in a match and so should be complemented with the overhead press.
How to do the bench press properly:

  1. Have your knees slightly higher than hips to keep a good curve in the lower back, and have your feet in a strong stable position
  2. Shrug the shoulders so the shoulder blades stay nice and flat onto the back
  3. Take a comfortable grip, just inside marks
  4. Get someone to spot for you
  5. The spotter should count down from 3 to 1 then say lift so there’s no confusion
  6. Both lift the bar and take to nipple level at full lock out
  7. Spotter says ‘your bar’
  8. Lifter says ‘my bar’ so spotter can step away and out of line of vision
  9. Use ceiling as point of reference
  10. Complete set of five reps, taking it directly up and down from nipple level
  11. Spotter comes back in at full lock out and rack it together
Key points you should always remember:
  1. Always use a spotter
  2. The bar should be unracked and racked with locked arms
  3. Move the bar inline with nipples in a straight line
  4. Shoulders shrugged with shoulder blades flat against back
  5. Knees higher than hips with the feet in a strong stable position
Common faults, and these can be dangerous:
  1. Reaching for racks before you have locked out the last rep
  2. Your bum coming off the bench
  3. Using a thumbless grip
  4. Having feet up on bench putting you in an unstable position
Hopefully this exercise will help to increase your strength and improve your rugby. Good luck and stay safe.

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