In my last article I analyzed the squats from the IPF world championships.
In this article I am going to analyze the bench press from the IPF world championships. It is important that we pay attention to how the best in the world are doing it and understanding why this is most effective.
I analyzed the bench press of 6 male athletes and 3 female athletes for this article.
The men whose bench presses I analyzed were:
- Sergey Fedosienko, a 59kg lifter that benched 167.5kg.
- Taylor Atwood a 74kg lifter that benched 185kg.
- Owen Hubbard, also a 74kg lifter that benched 190kg.
- Brett Gibbs who benched 208.5kg at 83kgs bodyweight,
- LS McClain at 93kgs bodyweight benched 227.5kgs
- Dennis Cornelius benched 386kg at 120kg bodyweight
Most of the males listed above benched in a very similar manner. Sergey Fedosienko at 59kg and Dennis Cornelius at 120kg even had similar bench presses. The lifters arched their backs and had their grip set at the legal limit of 81cm. They brought the bar down to their sternum and upon pressing had a slight backwards movement of the barbell.
This makes sense as it gives our pecs and front delts more leverage to lift the weight. The elbows also remained wide and under the bar. This also makes sense as our pec muscle fibers run horizontally. This also would give the pecs greater leverage.
There were some differences however with LS McClain’s bench press and Brett Gibbs’ bench press. Both of these lifters had their entire hands inside of the 81cm rings. When the bar was on their chest their elbow angles were roughly 90 degrees, but with the elbows tucked a bit more. Elbows remained under the bar just like with the lifters above and they also touched on their sternum. LS McClain also did not arch like the other lifters.
The woman whose bench press that I analyzed were:
- Maris Inda a 52kg lifter that benched 142.5kg
- Liz Craven, also a 52kg lifter that benched 156kg
- Jennifer Millican a 57kg lifter that benched 174.5kg
- Jennifer Thompson (did not compete at Worlds) a 63kg lifter that benches over 300lbs
There was more diversity amongst the women.
They all had large arches for the bench press. Liz Craven and Jennifer Thompson both place their hands at 81cm while both Marisa Inda and Jennifer Millican place their hands inside of the 81cm rings. Elbows remain under the bar for all of the lifters. Marisa Inda touches very high on her chest, while the others touch on their sternum.
Few takeaways from this are, the majority of lifters have a big arch and grip the bar at 81cm. However, there are some exceptions to this as 4 out of the 10 lifters analyzed had their hands inside of the rings, and 1 lifter out of 10 did not arch. All of the lifters touched somewhere between the base of the pecs and the base of the sternum. No lifters touched below this.
All of the lifters kept their elbows under the bar. The closer grip bench presses required greater tucking of the elbows, but not to the point that the elbows got in front of the bar as this would make it more difficult on the triceps.
Grip width, elbow position, and where the bar touches on the chest will all affect what muscles are engaged the hardest. However, pecs, front delts, and triceps are very important for the raw bench press as our shoulders are flexing, horizontally flexing, and our elbows are extending.
This also means that our lats do not play a major role in the bench press like some would believe. The lats extend and adduct the shoulder. These are opposite movements of what we had mentioned above. We actually need the lats to shut off so that our pecs and front delts do not need to fight them to lock the weight out.
This does not mean we lose our arch. All of the lifters mentioned in this article kept their arch throughout the lift. We do this by extending our spines. We need to maintain that spinal extension throughout the whole lift. This is accomplished by having strong spinal erectors.
Take this information and compare your technique to that of the world’s best.
Where is it similar and where is it different?
There may be areas of the lift where you can improve.
This constant analyzing and critiquing is how we continue to make progress.
Written by: Kevin Cann