Bench Press Setup with Strength Bands Part 1 – Revisited

By Steve Thompson

For those of you who don’t know who I am and are thinking, “who is this clown?” –
I have competed in two IPF World Powerlifting Championships.I am the holder of four New Zealand Powerlifting records and two All-round Weightlifting World records. I have been competing in the sport of Powerlifting for more than 15 years and have Bench Pressed double bodyweight in three weight classes.145kg @ 67.5kg, 165kg @ 75kg and 172.5kg @ 82.5kg bodyweight. Best 4 board press of 200kg.

One of the best ways to develop speed and in return power in the Bench Press is through the great training techniques of Louie Simmons with strength bands and chain training variations. There are several ways of setting up the bands for benching. I am going to explain a technique that we were shown a while back from New Zealand’s all time Bench Press record holder Reuben Simanu (305kg) pacificbarbenders.co.nz. We have found this to be the most time saving and effective way of training with the bands on the bench.
Why bands? From a powerlifting point of view the bands simulate a bench Press shirt. As you pass through the ROM the bands tighten on the concentric movement (upward phase) making the triceps work over time. This is very similar to how a shirt works, the shirt tightens on the way down creating a spring effect off the chest.
Bands also develop kinetic energy and help with speed off the chest, most of the time you can overcome weakness off your chest with speed through the sticking point. My point of view is that the triceps are one of the most under rated muscle groups in the bench press. Strong triceps = strong bench!
Ok, back to set up: We use one band, this can vary from #1, #2 or #3. The one band loops under the bench then back through the bar.

The band should be underneath your chest about nipple level, so when you take the bar out the band is straight up and down not pulling you forward or back. This creates less stress on your shoulder girdle.

My elbows go through the band and then I gather my grip.

We have found this to be very even throughout the press creating no extra stress on the shoulders. The movement is very smooth and enjoyable. You can increase resistance by increasing band size or adding extra bands.
Don’t forget the key to getting strong is variation, don’t get stale! Add chains, weight releaser’s, blocks etc. I will be adding an article to the article archives page on Benching variations in the near future, so keep a eye out on getstrength.com or join our mailing list.

Have fun, let me know how you get on and if you have any questions.
visit www.getstrength.com
Train hard,
Steve Thompson

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