Superficially, a speed bench press is the same as a traditional bench press, only faster. However, the speed factor alone changes the game protocols significantly. The primary purpose of the speed bench press is to enhance your upper body’s ability to push loads explosively.
A typical bench press enhances strength and power in the muscles used in the workout. The strength part is associated with the weight you lift, while the power is linked to overall endurance, a factor directly related to speed. A typical bench press doesn’t involve much speed, meaning it is more tilted towards building strength.
On the other hand, speed bench presses help you increase power in your upper body muscles, mainly in the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
How to Perform a Speed Bench Press
The technique to perform speed bench presses is essentially the same as traditional bench presses. However, the speed version requires you to muster your strength and go as fast as possible. And the second most important requirement is to increase your speed with every repetition.
Now, let’s have a detailed look at the technique involved in speed bench presses. We will first discuss prerequisites before moving to how to perform this workout.
- Equipment: Equipment for the speed bench press is the same as for normal bench presses. It includes the standard bench press bench and a standard 20kg bar with knurling on it. The purpose of knurling is to hold the bar in the right areas.
- Stance/Foot Position: Your feet should be flat on the ground. The foot’s position may vary depending on the mechanics of your body. Make sure that they are aligned well with your hips and pointed outward.
- Grip/Hand Position: The position of your hands on the bar depends on your shoulder’s width and arms’ length. The hand placement should be in a way that your forearms become perpendicular to the ground when the bar is close to your chest. You can take help from the knurling on the bar if you have trouble securing an even and appropriate hand position on the bar.
- Sets and Reps: The speed bench press doesn’t involve too many repetitions. This is because of the necessity to complete a set before the fatigue causes you to slow. Generally, every set of this workout involves 2-3 repetitions. Depending on your workout strategy, you can use 6-10 sets of speed bench presses.
After taking care of the fundamentals mentioned above, you now have to get into the starting position for the speed bench press workout.
- Hold the bar the way discussed above and squeeze your grip. Make sure not to loosen your grip until the completion of the set.
- Your shoulders should remain on the bench. Squeeze your shoulder blades as much as possible. Keep them squeezed throughout the set.
- Your feet should remain on the ground under your hips, as mentioned above.
- Exert pressure on the ground through your feet and move your hips towards your shoulders. This movement will cause your back to conform into a slight arch. Make sure that your body remains tightened from your traps to toes during this process. Keep your chest high and tight during the entire set.
- Make sure that your head, shoulders, and buttocks are in contact with the bench, and your feet are in contact with the ground throughout the full range of motion of every rep.
Going Ahead With the Lift
- First, you have to lift the bar from the rack. Before that, take a deep breath and hold it. Then, lift the bar from the J-hooks while making sure that your shoulders remain on the bench and your shoulder blades are fully squeezed. Bring this loaded bar straight above your chest.
- Exhale, take another deep breath and hold it.
- Bring the bar down, and ensure that it is right above the lower area of your chest. This movement should be quick but highly controlled to avoid any mishap. Do not stop the bar lightly when you have brought it down close to your chest. Keep your chest high throughout the process. This movement should prompt your pecs to stretch over the rib cage.
- The bar should stop completely before you push it up away from your chest. The bar should not sink into your chest before you drive it up.
- Use your pecs and lats to push the bar up to get into the starting position. This movement should be explosive. Exhale while moving up the bar.
- Take a deep breath after getting into the starting position, and then continue with subsequent reps.
- Use your entire muscle strength to move the bar up, and ensure to do it as fast as you can.
What are the Benefits of Speed Bench Presses?
Think of a truck moving at 5Km/h and a bullet at 1200m/s. Whose impact is going to be more significant? Now, compare this analogy to the traditional vs. speed bench presses. When performing speed bench presses, you do not have to go with heavier loads on the barbell. In fact, going with the heavier weights is not recommended, even if you can move them fast enough to perform speed bench presses.
Now, what are you going to get with speed bench presses? With the weight that is 30-40% of your 1RM loaded onto the barbell, a speed bench press can help you build strength and power without getting injured. The power-related benefit is somewhat more direct than the strength. However, this will ultimately allow you to load heavier weight into a barbell in the future. All in all, you will have a better ability to induct more intensity into your workouts, whether for strength or power.
The Role of Technology
Speed bench presses involve lifting a loaded barbell at a speed of 1 meter per second. You go only a fraction slower, and it won’t be a speed bench. And going faster could lead to injuries. So, how can you comply with such calculations accurately? A linear transducer by Vitruve may be the answer to all your concerns. This transducer attaches to your barbell, allowing you to record your movements precisely. As a result, you will be able to get the most out of your speed bench presses.