I get this type of question often :
I am training for the city’s SWAT team, I can do fairly well on the aerobic tests, but I have neglected my bench press performance, I am now stuck 130 kilos. I need to do a minimum of 135 kilos at my bodyweight to get in. Any last minute tips that can help me? If I miss out, I have to wait another year before I can apply again.
Here are a few tricks that can help you with your last minute efforts. They will increase your bench press performance by about 4 to 6% even if your last few weeks of training keep you at a standstill. With these tricks you will literally put over 5 kg on your bench in less than 10 minutes.
Step 1 : Stretch statically the external rotators and the rhomboids before the lift.
The external rotators of the shoulder (infraspinatus and teres minor) and the rhomboids are antagonistic to the prime movers of the bench press, which are the shoulder girdle muslces. These muscles are the serratus anterior, pectoralis major, coracobrachialis and anterior deltoids. If you stretch the external rotators and rhomboids statically before the bench press, they will be temporarily weaker. This will potentiate the force of the agonist muscles. From experience you should gain a minimum of 2% on your bench press from that trick alone. Therefore your bench press is now 132.6 kilos
Step 2 : Do cross-fiber friction on the prime movers
Cross fiber friction on the tendons on the primer movers will also increase strength instantly. Place the tip of your index and middle fingers on the origin on the pectoral muscles on the medial aspect of the sternum. Move the fingers rapidly perpendicular to the tendinous surface. Start from the top and work you way down. Repeat the process on the insertion of the tendon in front of the shoulder.
You will experience some discomfort while doing the technique, but the reward will exceed the discomfort. You should put another 2% on your bench press, which should take you to about 135.25 kg, which is above your target.
Step 3 : At the sticking point, exert pressure on the bench by pushing down with your neck extensors.
In order to lift the highest load for your test, the back of your head should be making contact with the bench’s upholstery and in fact, you should be pressing it into the bench. Pressing your head on the bench as in doing a neck extension will increase your strength as you push the bar away from you by creating a neural response which facilitates the muscles used in the bench press.
For more information on the study that demonstrated this fact, please consult the following reference: Richard A. Berger et Smith. K.J. Effects of the tonic neck reflex in the bench press, Journal of Applied Sport Science Research Vol 5, No 4 p.188-191, 1991
That should put another 2% on your bench press, bringing it up to about 138 lbs, which again is over your target.
Keep in mind that the stretching trick and the cross-fiber friction will work best if done within 10 minutes of doing your first attempt. Furthermore, the stretching and the cross-fiber frictions work best if done with the help of a partner.
To learn more of the performance increasing techniques please take a look at the Kinetic Chain Enhancement Courses
Enjoy the gains!
Charles R Poliquin