Ok let me preface this article by saying that the bench press has always been the hardest lift for me to improve, I have tried nearly everything. Recently I undertook two back to back Smolov Jr. Bench press cycles and as a result of this, had a 22kg all time PB.

Now the idea of Smolov Jr. is that you are bench pressing four times per week. While this sounds like a lot, you will remove all other pressing or delt work and keep other assistance work to a minimum.

A full outline of this program can be found here:

http://www.seriouspowerlifting.com/2362/articles/smolov-jr

As you can see, there is a lot of heavy work done. Now there’s a few ways in which this high frequency approach really helped me.

1. It allowed me to fine tune my technique and really improve my arch, bar path and leg drive. By benching heavy and often my technique improved in leaps and bounds

2. By removing really heavy work on my other lifts and focusing purely on the bench for this time, I wasn’t sore elsewhere and therefore my bench press wasn’t inhibited.

While everyones bench press weaknesses are different, I am going to outline a few that I feel apply to the majority of natural lifters.

1. practice benching with a pause – most natural lifters are weak off the chest, training with a slight pause at the bottom will improve this

2. never turn off the glutes – leg drive is paramount to a big bench. You should be forcing your heels into the ground and squeezing the glutes – you should NOT be comfortable, but you should be as solid as a rock.

3. sit on your traps, and retract your shoulder blades. This creates a shorter bar path which is also like benching on a slight decline. Your shoulders will thank me later for this one. This scaps down and back.

4. Crush AND tear the bar apart. You should have white knuckles from squeezing the bar so hard. Creating tension in your hands will help to create tension throughout the rest of the body. Similiarly consciously thinking of pulling the bar apar twill keep your elbows under the bar – keeping you tighter, reducing chance of injury and improving strength from the chest.

5. Hold your breath – before the bar descends you should have a full belly breath, you should have expanded your torso in a 360 degree fashion creating as much intra-abdominal pressure as you can. Hold this breath until you have locked out the rep or re racked the bar. This pressure will make your entire press tighter and help move more weight.