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Pump Quiz: Bench Day

Pump Quiz: Bench Day

Chest training means benching heavy. But what do you know about the finer points of this upper-body mass builder? Answer these three challenging questions on your way to thicker pecs.

By Bill Geiger, MA

1) To generate the most power when benching, where should you place your feet?

Pump Quiz: Bench Day

A) IT DOESN’T MATTER
B) FEET WIDE AND FLAT WELL IN FRONT OF THE BENCH
C) FEET WIDE AND FLAT JUST OUTSIDE THE SIDES OF THE BENCH
D) FEET FLAT UP ON THE BENCH

2) To generate the most power when benching, where should you place your hands?

Pump Quiz: Bench Day

A) IT DOESN’T MATTER
B) SHOULDER WIDTH APART
C) AT THE POINT WHERE YOUR FOREARMS ARE PERPENDICULAR TO THE FLOOR WHEN THE BAR IS IN THE DOWN POSITION
D) AS WIDE AS POSSIBLE

3) Benching in a power rack offers what added benefits?

Pump Quiz: Bench Day

A) NO ADDED BENEFITS
B) YOU CAN BENCH SAFELY WITHOUT A SPOTTER
C) YOU CAN TRAIN WITH A WEIGHT HEAVIER THAN YOUR SINGLE-REP MAX BY DOING PARTIALS
D) YOU CAN ELIMINATE THE STRETCH REFLEX (BUILT-UP ELASTIC ENERGY) BY ALLOWING THE BAR TO MOMENTARILY SETTLE ON THE SAFETIES BEFORE PRESSING UP

ANSWERS

1. You might not train like a powerlifter but a powerlifter will be the first to tell you that foot position is critical in putting up heavy benches. That’s where you dig your feet in beside the bench and press through your heels as you lift the weight.Some estimates are that you can lift up to 10% more weight using this technique. For spinal safety keep your glutes on the bench. The correct answer is C.

2. Close grips hit the triceps and inner pecs harder and have a longer range of motion, while a very wide grip emphasizes the outer pecs more directly for a fairly short range of motion. For most people, a hand position where your forearms are straight up from the floor (not when you grab the bar but when the bar’s in the down position) recruits the meaty area of your pecs and you’ll be strongest. The correct answer is C.

3. Doing your bench presses in a power rack allows you to set the safety bars so that you can train heavy without a spotter. You can also place them fairly high up so that you’re benching just a few inches (called partials) with a weight heavier than your 1RM. And by allowing the bar to touch down on the safeties for a second between reps you make the positive rep harder by removing the elastic energy. The correct answers are B, C and D.

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