The first fundamental movement covered in our supplemental and accessory exercise series will be the push, which is most commonly associated with the bench press and push-up. So, as part of our supplemental exercise recommendations the following exercises will be focused on perfecting push form, and also building the barbell bench press. Remember, supplemental exercises are performed with the same movement pattern as the movement you are trying to improve.
The Best Way To Perfect Your Push-up and Pressing Form (The Barbell Push-up)
The number one supplemental exercise to improve the push-up or press is the barbell push-up. The barbell push-up allows us to work with eccentrics and perfect push form due to the fact that we can alter our angle (higher angle is far easier) and progress as we improve our form and strength. Also, we can focus purely on eccentrics to improve. Basically, the strength curve shows we are stronger eccentrically (downward portion of the range of motion), so those who cannot perform regular push-ups properly can simply lower to the bar with good form, and then reset and perform more reps in that manner. I generally do not advise to “push-up” off the bar until proper form can be executed.
Top Two Supplemental Exercises To Improve Your Barbell Bench Press (Board Press and Pause Repetitions/Thick Bar Work)
These two exercises will help with your not only your lockout but also your ability to get the weight off your chest. The first exercise is a board press in which you limit the range of motion to the top half or third of the press and work on your triceps and shoulder strength while perfecting the lockout. Many athletes and lifters struggle getting the bar to full lockout, and performing the board press for either hypertrophy purposes or even strength can go a long way. The next exercise or supplemental variation I like to incorporate is thick bar work with a pause on the chest. I have used these together for tremendous success in my own training and with my athletes. Thick bar work (fat gripz are the cheapest way to go about this), can stimulate the nervous system and improve handling of the bar (while also strengthening grip and wrists). In addition, a pause on the chest can limit momentum and strictly focus on the ability to drive the bar off the chest in the early portion of the range of motion.
Repetition Ranges for Supplemental Exercises
For athletes or lifters who need to or can afford to gain weight, supplemental exercises can be used to gain muscle mass (12-15 reps). For athletes who need to maintain or even lose weight they can be performed for max strength and in the 1-5 repetition range.
Gerry DeFilippo: ISSA CPT- CPPS, AAPS. Founder/Owner: Challenger Strength.