Everyone has a general idea of the benefits of warming up-injury prevention with an increase in metabolic temperature and increased range of motion. However, when the time comes for your max-effort bench day and even a light over-head accessory day, do we still take the time to warm up properly? Grabbing 2.5-5lb plates and pressing up and hitting a few external rotations may only get you so far.
Bench press is a full body lift. If someone stabs you in the leg with a knife, and you DON'T feel it when you try and press, then you are not engaging the most powerful part of your body. Firing your glutes and legs during the press is called leg drive, and it is crucial to your bench press. JL explains it best in his Leg Drive for Bench Press Video. This means that you must properly warm-up your lower body to be able to maintain a proper bench position. If you are a powerlifter, athlete, or just someone who likes to lift, making sure your hips and hamstrings are activated, and hip flexors and quads are loose is important to get the most out of your bench press.
Self-Mobilizing Thoracic Spine (T-Spine) on a Foam Roller
T-Spine mobility is very important to the set-up of the bench press. With the 5 points of contact being both feet on the ground, butt, upper back, and head on the bench, this naturally places you in a small arch. Now I’m not asking everyone to “arch” like a powerlifter, but putting those “shoulder blades in the back pocket-and chest up” will put you in a slight arch. Therefore, self-mobing your T-Spine will help you create that better position. If your T-spine is stiff, your shoulders are likely to becoming internally rotated during your bench press, causing an anomaly of shoulder issues.
Below, you can see that I’m extending and flexing my spine, breaking up stiffness between the vertebrae. You have 12 T-Spine vertebrae, behind your ribs. Be sure to mobilize just these without moving into your lumbar spine.
Self Myofacial Release (SMR) of the Hip Flexor, Quads, Glutes on the Foam Roller.
In this video, I am hitting my glutes, quads, and hips on the foam roller, to get ready to create optimum leg drive without cramping. Remember, this is a kinetic chain exercise, so lengthening the hip complex and quads is essential.
Static Stretching of the Hip Flexor
-Tuck your hips in and squeeze your glutes as hard as you can to posteriorly rotate your pelvis to create tension without hyper extending your low back.
Band Pull A-Parts and Overhead Squats w/ Band.
Getting your upper back activated before you bench is important because the upper back acts as a stabilizer for your shoulders. Get these warmed up with 1-2 sets of 20 reps. Right after the pull a-aparts, raise the band over your head and pull it apart slightly to great tension in your shoulders. Perform an overhead squatwith the band over or slightly behind the head to active shoulders and open up the chest.
Push up Position Walkouts to Downward Dog
This move wakes up the shoulder stabilizers, triceps, and abs. Shift back into downward-dog for an extra back stretch.
Rolling planks are on of our go-to movements to get the abs, back, and obliques fired up-which is essential in every exercise.