BENCHING BEYOND BOUNDARIES: MAXIMISE YOUR OLYMPIC LIFTING POTENTIAL

Unveiling the Bench Press Advantages for Olympic Lifters. Discover the benefits of incorporating bench press into your Olympic lifting program. From bolstering upper body strength and improving lockout stability to enhancing mental toughness, this blog explores how the bench press can elevate your performance on the platform. Dive in to learn practical integration strategies and considerations, unlocking the potential for Olympic greatness.

When it comes to Olympic weightlifting, the focus is typically on explosive movements like the Snatch and the Clean &  Jerk. However, one often overlooked exercise that can significantly benefit Olympic lifters is the bench press. While it may seem counterintuitive to include a primarily upper body-focused exercise in a sport that demands explosive power from the lower body, the bench press offers a range of advantages that can enhance an Olympic lifter’s performance. Let’s explore how incorporating the bench press into your training program can take your Olympic lifting to new heights.

1. STRENGTHENING UPPER BODY MUSCLES

While Olympic weightlifting primarily targets the lower body and core muscles, having a strong upper body is also essential for stability and balance during lifts. The bench press primarily works the chest, shoulders, and triceps, helping to develop upper body strength that can complement the explosive power generated from the lower body in Olympic lifts. Consider the importance of upper body strength in the jerk portion of the clean and jerk. A strong chest and triceps assist in driving the barbell overhead, while stable shoulders ensure control and balance in the lockout position. A study published in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research”  by Spiering et al (2023) found that bench press strength was positively correlated with performance in the jerk portion of the clean and jerk among competitive weightlifters.

2. IMPROVING YOUR LOCKOUT

The lockout phase of the snatch and the clean and jerk requires stability and strength in the arms and shoulders to successfully complete the lift. By strengthening the muscles involved in the bench press, such as the triceps and deltoids, Olympic lifters can improve their ability to lock out heavy weights overhead, leading to more successful lifts and potentially higher totals. During the clean and jerk, a lifter with strong triceps and shoulder muscles can lock out the barbell more efficiently, reducing the risk of failed lifts due to instability or lack of strength in the overhead position. Other Research suggested that bench press training can improve upper body strength and power, which is essential for success in the lockout phase of Olympic lifts.

3. ENHANCING SHOULDER MOBILITY

Shoulder stability is crucial for Olympic lifters to safely and effectively execute overhead movements. The bench press not only strengthens the muscles around the shoulder joint but also promotes stability and control, reducing the risk of injury during overhead lifts like the snatch and the jerk. By developing strong stabilizing muscles through bench press training, lifters can minimize shoulder instability during the catch phase of the snatch, reducing the likelihood of shoulder injuries. A study published in the “Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy” found that bench press exercises can improve shoulder stability and neuromuscular control, which are essential for preventing shoulder injuries in athletes.

4. ADDRESSING MUSCLE IMBALNCES

Olympic weightlifting can create muscle imbalances, with a focus on explosive lower body movements potentially neglecting the development of upper body strength. Incorporating the bench press into training helps to address these imbalances by providing a balanced approach to strength development, reducing the risk of injury and improving overall performance. By including bench press exercises in their training routine, Olympic lifters can strengthen muscles in the chest, shoulders, and arms, creating a more balanced physique and reducing the risk of overuse injuries associated with muscle imbalances. A review published in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” highlights the importance of addressing muscle imbalances through targeted strength training to improve athletic performance and reduce the risk of injury in athletes.

5. MENTAL TOUGHNESS & CONFIDENCE

Success in Olympic weightlifting requires not only physical strength but also mental fortitude and confidence in one’s abilities. The bench press offers lifters an opportunity to build mental toughness by pushing through challenging sets and overcoming plateaus. The sense of accomplishment and confidence gained from progressing in the bench press can translate into improved performance on the platform during Olympic lifts. Overcoming a personal record in the bench press can instill a sense of confidence and self-belief that carries over to Olympic lifting, motivating lifters to push themselves harder and strive for greater achievements. A study published in the “Journal of Applied Sport Psychology” suggests that achieving success in strength training exercises like the bench press can enhance self-efficacy and confidence, leading to improved performance in competitive sports.

CONSIDERATION PRIOR TO ADDING BENCH PRESS TO YOUR PROGRAM

Before adding bench press to your training routine, consider the following:

  • Impact on Recovery: Bench press can be demanding on the muscles and nervous system. Ensure you have adequate recovery time between bench press sessions to avoid overtraining.
  • Shoulder Health: Some lifters may have pre-existing shoulder issues that could be exacerbated by bench pressing. If you have shoulder pain or instability, consult with a qualified professional before incorporating bench press into your program.
  • Balance with Other Exercises: While bench press can be beneficial, it should not overshadow other important exercises in your training program. Maintain a balanced approach to ensure comprehensive strength development.

INCOPORATING BENCH PRESS INTO YOUR TRAINING

To reap the benefits of the bench press as an Olympic lifter, it’s essential to integrate it strategically into your training program. Here are some tips:

  • Prioritise Technique: Focus on proper bench press form to maximize effectiveness and minimize the risk of injury.
  • Balance with Lower Body Training: While bench pressing is beneficial, it should not overshadow lower body training. Maintain a balanced approach to ensure comprehensive strength development.
  • Include Variations: Experiment with different bench press variations, such as incline or close-grip bench presses, to target different muscle groups and prevent stagnation.
  • Periodise Your Training: Incorporate bench press training cycles into your periodized program, alternating between phases of strength, hypertrophy, and power to optimize results.

FINAL THOUGHTS

While the bench press may not be the first exercise that comes to mind for Olympic lifters, its benefits for upper body strength, shoulder stability, and mental toughness make it a valuable addition to any lifter’s training arsenal. By incorporating the bench press intelligently into your program and focusing on proper technique and progression, you can enhance your performance on the platform and take your Olympic lifting to the next level. So, don’t underestimate the power of the bench press—it might just be the missing piece in your quest for Olympic greatness.

WANT COACHING TO TARGET YOUR EXACT AREAS FOR DEVELOPMENT?

If you’re ready to elevate your game and conquer new PB’s in Olympic lifting, it’s time to invest in personalised online coaching. As your expert coaches, I specialise in identifying your weaknesses, refining your technique, and boosting your strength to guarantee your next personal best. Say goodbye to plateaus and hello to podium-worthy performances. Take the first step towards greatness today and unleash your full potential in Olympic lifting by Clicking here and filling out my coaching form, Speak soon!

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