As I have mentioned previously, the lats are extremely crucial to your performance on the bench. They play a huge roll in creating power and drive and stabilizing your body throughout the duration of the range of motion. When performing sets with heavy loads your rest periods can be quite lengthy. As a result, it is imperative that you utilize these resting periods to put yourself in the best possible position to succeed during your next set. Focusing on certain areas of your back and shoulders during your time between sets can be key in helping create upper body torque via maintaining proper posture and ability to externally rotate your shoulders and activating your lats and upper back musculature. By incorporating and varying these three exercises in between your sets you will ensure that you are in the most ideal position to perform your optimal bench press. Band pull aparts, slow eccentric wide grip pull-ups, and wide grip lat pull downs will surely put you in the best possible position for your bench press.
It is truly remarkable. If you actually utilize your time between your bench press sets you can accomplish some amazing things. Much more amazing than if you stand there and scroll through your instagram feed and find pictures to like. Yes, it is shocking I know. Once again I am here to provide you with a massive revelation. Now, let’s get to those exercises.
Band Pull Aparts
Activating your upper back musculature, specifically in your scapular area can be extremely beneficial to your bench press. Not only does the natural motion of a band pull apart improve posture, but doing so can also activate your upper back muscles so that you will be able to properly externally rotate your shoulders. It is IMPOSSIBLE to create the necessary torque for heavy bench presses without being able to externally rotate and create torque. With that being said, posture and activation of your upper back muscles play a huge role in that.
Wide Grip Pull-Ups
In addition to Band Pull Aparts, Wide Grip Pull-ups with a focus on slow eccentrics do a tremendous job of not only activating your lats, but also your shoulders in an externally rotated position that is quite similar to how you grip the bar. Perform only a few reps with exceptional form. The goal here is to engage your lats, not pre exhaust them. As I have mentioned previously, your lats play a huge part in stabilizing yourself against the bench. I often cue an athlete or client to “engage and drive” their lats while bench pressing. These pull-ups will help activate
them so they can properly be engaged.
Wide Grip Lat Pull Downs
These will provide a similar effect to the pull-ups, but are a nice alternative to those who either struggle with the pull-ups or just want a slightly easier way to activate their lats. Again, with these I advise to maintain the grip width similar to when bench pressing as it will help create muscle memory and motor control of the proper torque needed to externally rotate the shoulders in the bench press. Again, keep it light and keep the reps to a minimal. The goal of all these exercises are to engage and activate, not exhaust and create the presence of lactic acid.
Now, go implement these exercises and unlock the ultimate rest period bench press hack!
Gerry DeFilippo: ISSA CPT- CPPS, AAPS. Founder/Owner: Challenger Strength.