photo by Aperture by Angelica
Written by Nick Benerakis
Women actually have some awesome advantages when it comes to bench pressing! Many women aren’t even aware of the advantages they possess and similarly, do not take advantage as a result. In this article, I want to shed some light on how women can kick more ass in the bench press!
Most women are naturally more flexible than their male counterparts! This is speaking generally but includes the large majority. Many women have the advantage of being able to get into great arches on the bench and really exploit the reduced range of motion. If you follow me on Instagram @bigbenchas or have ever took part in one of our coaching programs, you know how much I stress the millimeters! What I mean by that is you should be maximizing your set up positioning to the fullest. An extra millimeter added or subtracted to the range of motion could make or break you on a max effort lift!
Where to start with this? Learn our 3 step approach to setting up on the bench. This checklist makes it easy to set up consistently and to strive for those millimeters!
Women also may find a unique flexibility advantage in what I call “bridging” off the bench. In this process, you are trying to shift the contact point with the pad from your upper back to the upper traps/base of the neck. The higher up you can shift the contact point, the more advantageous the position will become!
Strong Lower Body
Many women are naturally gifted in lower body strength and power. Upper body traditional lags a bit behind for most but what is lacking in upper body strength is easily accommodated for with very powerful legs and hips. Women can use this to their advantage! Bench Press is just as much a lower body lift than it is an upper body lift! Leg drive is a huge component in the bench and this is where women can shine!
Once a lifter learns how to engage their leg strength in the correct way, it proves to be an enormous spark in bench press strength!
Bench press generally recovers more quickly than the squat or the deadlift because of the nature of the movement. There is no axial loading so the demands are a bit different, but there is typically less weight lifted as well so it’s not as fatiguing for the nervous system. What I have found is that women tend to recover even more quickly than male counterparts which is why they seem to do so well with higher frequency work. Benching up to three times a week can be considered tolerable and beneficial for women lifters.
Like with any programming tips, this recommendation is based off appropriate loading schemes. It would not be wise to max out three times per week, but if you control the intensity variable then you can get away with three to four times benching a week depending on how you spin it. I traditionally like to see one day focused on high intensity, one day on higher volume, and one day in between focused on recovery. Movement practice prioritized throughout the week in all training sessions
Hopefully, with this increased knowledge, we can see more women lifters push through new boundaries! The bench press can be a frustrating lift and may take time to improve, but as long as a lifter is willing to stick it out and prioritize technique, you will make an improvement!
“Coach Ben is a strength coach in Long Island, NY. His best competition bench to date is 705 pounds multi-ply. Nick specializes in coaching the bench press. His website www.bigbenchas.com and his YouTube channel Big Benchas is dedicated to providing all the content you need to take your bench to the next level! To learn more on bench pressing, you can follow Big Benchas on Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, and iTunes (The BenchCast)”