Bench Press Articles
“fix a lagging bench lockout”
By Ian Smalley
If you’ve ever missed a tough lift at the top, just inches from lockout, then you know the frustration that comes with top end weakness. It seems inconceivable that you could blow the weight off of your chest and ride it all the way toward the top only to have it stop motionless 2 inches from completion. 2 inches? Come on. Unfortunately this a real problem for many lifters. Typically you will be better either off of your chest, or at lockout, then be left to train that middle ground no-mans land where good benches go to die called “the transition”. This article will focus on exercises to help bring the bench press lockout around so you can finish the lift without stalling out.
The first exercise to help with your lockout is high board work. A 3, 4, of 5 board will work depending on your stroke and the length of your arms. Set up as you would to benchpress at full range, then have your partner put the board on your sternum before you begin. Lower the bar in control, not allowing your chest to drop, set it on the board for a 1 count, then press forcefully to the top. Doing triples or singles is best on this exercise to insure that the weight you are using will be in the heavier range of your ability. Just do multiple sets to ensure you get enough work in. Remember there is no direct carry over in terms of numbers between what you can 4 board and your full range press, so don’t fool yourself. Just use this movement as a training tool to overload the lock out portion of the lift.
Another great lift to bring up the bench press lockout is the rack press. Set up a bench inside of the power rack and place the pins so that the bar sits 3-4 from full lockout. Set up exactly the same as you would to press full range. The bar should rest on the pins somewhere over your upper pec line. This is a very short but an extremely powerful movement, so as you begin to press the weight, allow your body to “load” correctly against the weight so that you can keep your form throughout the movement. What typically happens is a lifter will begin to press, the weight will not move, then he will completely flatten out so the bar is now directly over the face and press the weight. Yes the leverage is the greatest here, which is why your body tries to go there, but that doesn’t help you lockout weight. It more or less tells you how much you can hold. Again, do triples or singles for multiple sets and go as heavy as possible without flattening out.
One last movement to help bring up the lagging bench press lockout is banded benching. Using bands is a staple in many camps for various reasons, but here the necessity is in the re-loading of the band tension near the top. Set up your bands with at least 80lbs of resistance at the top, which is doubled minis on each side. Choose a bar weight that you would normally do a set of 5 or 6 with, and do triples or singles. That could mean 285lbs of bar weight plus 80lbs at the top of band weight to give you 365 at the top and 325 at the bottom. Make sure to stay extremely tight when doing these, and press forcefully to the top to overcome the band tension. Unlike the two exercises mentioned above this allows you to train your top end strength throughout a full range of motion.
If your having problems locking out big weights then give these movements a try and you should see the weight start moving again.