Gym Shorts: The Paused Bench Press

New to the paused bench press (or pause bench press) or looking for a quick technique tutorial? Learn correct form in one short video.

The Paused Bench Press

Gym Shorts videos provide short video demonstrations of correct form for various exercises.

Follow these steps:

  • Safety
    • Use a spotter when possible
    • Set the safeties properly
    • No collars
    • Rack with straight arms
  • Set up
    • Thumbs around the bar
    • Hands approximately a thumb’s length from the smooth edge
    • Bar starts directly over the shoulders
    • Big breath
  • Movement
    • Touch your shirt: feel weight in your hands
    • 1 full second pause
    • Press back

The paused bench press is a bench press supplemental lift that increases time under tension and removes the stretch reflex with a pause in the bottom. Though it seems simple–pause in the bottom–many perform these incorrectly.

The increased time under tension and loss of the stretch reflex means you will almost undoubtedly not do use as much weight as with a touch-and-go bench press, though improving your leg drive can help close this gap.

People often perform these for 2 reasons: a powerlifting competition where the bench press must be paused or to address form or strength issues in the bottom of the bench press.

The paused bench press is often added to intermediate lifters as they either decide to compete in a competition or need a supplemental lift to strengthen the bottom portion of the bench press.

This can be programmed similarly to the bench press, but tends to programmed in slightly lower rep schemes (1-6).

Ensure you keep the weight in your hands (don’t let your body support the weight of the bar). To help strengthen this movement for competition, using a well timed drive up the bench (toward your head) through your feet can help propel the bar up off your chest.

Click HERE to watch a video on how to leg drive, and HERE to our favorite bench press variations.

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