The competition really comes to a head this week, with the holy grail of upper body strength, and the universal lift for Mondays. It’s arguably the most iconic weight room exercise and surely the most popular lift. If you haven’t guessed by now, we’re talking about the bench press, the most classic expression of upper body strength.

At face value, the bench press demonstrates strength in your chest, shoulders, and triceps. However, the lift incorporates all major muscles of the body. The strongest bench pressers, in this competition, know how important their feet, hips, and back are to move some serious weight. These muscles also come in handy with upper body dominant sports that involve activities like pushing, passing, and blocking.

While one of the most popular exercises, it also exposes itself to common mistakes. As you suit up this week, to show us what you got, keep a few of these tips and tricks in mind to get up some heavy weight.

First, make sure you have a proper set up with a spotter. Safety first. We hope to see some big weights, that may require some big help. Set up a proper bench with attached rack or slide a good bench into the squat rack. Use a standard 45lb olympic barbell, with enough plate weight.

Follow our tips for the 5RM squat warm up, working up to your best 3-5 single rep efforts. Over or undershooting your goal weight can make or break your rankings. Spotters can be used to unrack and rack the bar, only, with the lifter demonstrating a controlled lock out at the start and finish.

Remember, the barbell must descend to your chest. We are not asking for competition style benching, but no bouncing off your chest, and 5 points of contact: feet, hips, back, and head must remain in contact with the bench throughout the rep.

If you want to improve your numbers, squeeze the bar as hard as you can. Imagine breaking or bending the bar. Drive your feet into the floor, hips and back into the bench. Focus more on pushing into the bench, then pushing the bar up to the ceiling. Keep your eyes directed up and focused on the ceiling.

Lastly, use your breath, a big deep belly breath at the top of your rep, let out slowly towards the end. We’re looking forward to some big performances. Grab a friend and show us what you got!

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