Better Ways to Bench Press

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The flat bench press is an awesome exercise – it’s the proper way to build massive upper body strength in the triceps, pecs, and front deltoids.

But performing the movement in the wrong way is hard on your shoulder joints – and possibly your elbows and wrists too.

Heavy bench press on a flat bench with Olympic barbell.
A heavy bench press is a mass and strength builder with no equal – but can also be detrimental to joint health if you don’t do it right.

Add in the crazy amounts of weight you can bench – and you have a recipe for disaster.

The solution is not to stop benching; rather to start benching smart.

We’re going to review equipment and gear that offers you better ways to bench.

Rogue Wrist Wraps - great for bench press and more.
Rogue Wrist Wraps Cheap and effective, use wrist wraps for greater wrist stability anytime you are pressing or going overhead during lifting.
Rogue MG-3 Knurled Multi-Grip/Swiss/Football Bar
Rogue MG-3 Multi-Grip Bar The MG-3 combines the two neutral grips with an inside angled grip. All are knurled. These grips let you take a neutral grip - and it can be easier on your wrists and shoulders.
BenchBlokz
BenchBlokz BenchBlokz are a light-weight training aid that let you get the benefit of board presses without the aggravation.
Mark Bell's Slingshot bench press assistance device
Original Sling Shot (Mark Bell) Mark Bell invented the Sling Shot - this device lets you train with 10% extra load and still decreases joint pain thanks to the assistance it provides.
Thompson Fat Pad
Thompson Fat Pad This thicker and wider pad for your flat bench promotes better scapular movement - and less wear and tear on your shoulders.
Kabuki Strength Duffalo Bar
Kabuki Strength Duffalo Bar This is a specialty bar. The curve of the bar reduces stress on the shoulders, biceps, and back, while enabling scapular retraction and superior joint centration. Great for anyone with shoulder issues or ROM restrictions - it lets you continue to train hard and heavy.
Rogue Dip Belt
Rogue Dip Belt Sometimes you just have to lay off the bench a bit - but don't let those triceps go to waste - do some dips instead.

Let’s take a closer look.

Bench Press – Proper Form

First of all, the form you use for benching has a lot to do with your ability to train this lift long term.

One of the biggest improvements you can make immediately is to use a proper arch in your back.

This has two effects; it puts your muscles in a more advantageous position to lift heavy, and it reduces the range of motion (ROM) slightly.

You know how you can always lift more in a decline bench as opposed to flat bench? An arch on a flat bench is basically the same thing.

Woman performing bench press with a properly arched back.
Benching with a mild arch in your back makes it almost like a mini-decline bench press – and your muscles are in a better position to deliver maximum strength – and the range of motion (ROM) is slightly decreased.

Secondly squeeze your shoulder blades together hard. Pinch your scapulas together as tight as you can.

This has a highly beneficial effect on the location of your shoulder joints.

Lastly, use your lats.

That’s right – flex your lats hard to make a stable “shelf” for the whole bench press to happen on.

Just these changes alone may be enough to make your bench pains go away.

But, if you are doing all this and still having issue; read on.

Wrist Wraps

A heavy bench press puts a lot of weight on one of your smallest joints – the wrist.

Add wrist wraps to help provide stability to this critical area.

Wrist wraps for bench press
Cheap and effective, use wrist wraps for greater wrist stability anytime you are pressing or going overhead during lifting.

Rogue’s White Series of wrist wrap are stiff and offer more support than their standard wrist wraps.

They are available in 3 lengths: 12″, 18″, and 24″.

The special blend of cotton, elastic, and polyester offers up to 30% more stiffness as compared to regular wrist wraps.

Rogue Wrist Wraps White Series
The White Series Wrist Wraps are made with a durable blend of Cotton (50%), Elastic (40%), and Polyester (10%), with a thumb loop and hook-and-loop closure for easy, custom tightening.

These are also available in a variety of colors.

Rogue Wrist Wraps white series in red
Available in a variety of colors.

Multi-Grip Bar

Still having wrist issues?

Have you ever tried a multi-grip barbell (also called a swiss bar or football bar?

No matter what you call it, these bars let you use a neutral grip.

The Rogue MG-3 Multi-Grip Bar is an example.

Rogue MG-3 Knurled Multi-Grip/Swiss/Football Bar
The MG-3 Knurled Multi-Grip Bar combines a single interior angled set of grips with two sets of vertical neutral grips. All are knurled.

As it turns out, the pronated (palms facing away) grip required for a regular barbell can put stress on your shoulders.

Supinated (palms facing you) grip can be the same – but that’s less common with barbell exercises for the most part.

The multi-grip swiss bar will let you use a neutral grip – where your grip is neither supinated or pronated.

And the MG-3 gives you a choice of angled or straight grips.

Rogue MG-3 Knurled Multi-Grip/Swiss/Football Bar
The MG-3 Knurled Multi-Grip Bar combines a single interior angled set of grips with two sets of vertical neutral grips. All are knurled.

And you can load these just as heavy as an Olympic barbell, in most cases.

The Rogue bars have full knurl on all the grips – which is what we’d recommend.

Rogue MG-3 Knurled Multi-Grip/Swiss/Football Bar
The MG-3 Knurled Multi-Grip Bar combines a single interior angled set of grips with two sets of vertical neutral grips. All are knurled.

BenchBlokz

Board presses are a proven way to work a limited range of motion in the bench press.

This is great for blasting past a sticking point, rehabbing after an injury, or for keeping tension in the pecs (and off the shoulder joints).

While board presses are great – they aren’t really practical for a solo trainee. They always require a volunteer board holder.

BenchBlokz let you work around those limitations.

These are available in two sizes – small and large.

BenchBlokz

Each gives you a variety of depths – simply utilize the various notches on the blocks.

They are compatible with nearly all standard shaft diameters power bars – 28 mm and 29mm.

BenchBlokz
BenchBlokz are compatible with any standard powerlifting bar (28-29mm bar shaft).

And these weigh less than 1 pound each – but will support 1,000 lbs.

Bench-Blokz
Each block provides a variety of press depths.

BenchBlokz are an innovative way to bring board presses to your home or garage gym.

Mark Bell’s Slingshot

Experienced powerlifter Mark Bell invented the Slingshot.

Mark Bell's Slingshot bench press assistance device
The Slingshot lets you train with 10% additional load – and with decreased wear and tear on your joints.

First of all, the Sling Shot will allow you to handle about a 10% overload in the bench press.

The Slingshot mimics your natural muscle movement by lengthening and shortening with the muscles thus giving support on the eccentric and concentric phase of a bench press. This effect can greatly reduce stress on the shoulders, elbows, and chest.

The Original Slingshot
Train your bench hard and pain free with the support and assistance of the Slingshot.

It can also be used for pushups or for assistance on ring dips and muscle ups.

There is also a Reactive version (blue) that is more flexible and pliable – and better for lighter bench pressers.

Slingshot Reactive
The Reactive (blue) model of the slingshot is better for lighter weight bench pressers.

Thompson Fat Pad for your Flat Bench

Powerlifter Donnie Thompson invented the Thompson Fat Pad.

Thompson Fat Pad
The Thompson Fat Pad bolts right to any Rogue Fitness Flat Bench.

This replaces the stock pad on your flat bench and it’s much thicker (4.5″) and wider (14.5″) than your average flat bench pad.

Thompson Fat Pad
Because it’s wider and thicker than the average bench pad it provides benching benefits.

What’s the benefits of this?

The inventor claims the Fat Pad will:

  • Promote Scapular movement
  • Eliminate Shoulder Hangover
  • Optimizes Back and Upper body Positioning
  • Increases mechanic leverages

Thompson Fat Pad
The greater width is great for “big” guys too.

Duffalo Bar

The Kabuki Strength Duffalo Bar is designed by world renowned strength coach and powerlifter Chris Duffin.

Kabuki Strength Duffalo Bar
What’s a Duffalo Bar? It’s a bar specially curved for less stress on your joints – great for heavy lifts and for those who have injuries or ROM restrictions in the shoulders.

It’s great for squats – low bar, high bar, or front squats.

But it’s also great for bench pressing.

It helps enforce a beneficial wrist angle that reduces strain on the shoulders while promoting better lat and scapular engagement.

The proprietary bend encourages proper joint centration and reduces rotational demand on the shoulder.

It also improves scapular retraction and lat engagement in the press.

It is available in 3 finishes: Clear Zinc, Black Oxide, or Bright Nickel.

Finishes available with the Kabuki Strength Duffalo Bar
Finishes available with the Kabuki Strength Duffalo Bar

This item is made in the USA and has a lifetime warranty.

Dip Belt

Sometimes you just have to lay off the bench for a bit.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to train your upper body.

In fact, dips are a great way to “conjugate” your press training.

Heavily loaded dips put a massive load on your triceps, front delts, and pecs – just like the bench press.

Performing dips with a dip belt
Dips with extra weight are an awesome upper body mass and strength builder.

But it’s a different variety of stress – and that an help you get stronger in the bench – and give you some training variety.

But, for these to truly be effective you’ve got to add weight.

The Rogue Dip Belt can help you do just that.

It’s available in two colors – black or yellow.

Rogue Dip Belt
The Rogue Dip Belt is available in black and yellow. It is made in the USA.

The heavy duty nylon, 1/4” wide steel chain-link system, and D-shaped carabiners can support far more weight than you could ever dip.

As an added plus, it’s made in the USA – as a lot of Rogue’s best stuff is.

Better Ways to Bench – In Summary

The bench press is a mass and strength builder with no equal – but it can be hard on your joints.

Don’t stop benching – bench smarter instead.

We hope these items help you attain your training goals – and keep you in the weight lifting game for a long time.

Why Rogue Fitness Products? We’re a Rogue Fitness affiliate – so if you order equipment after clicking the links in this article we receive monetary compensation. But that’s not why we recommend Rogue. It’s because their equipment is tough, durable, well-made, and stylish. Their equipment looks good, and works even better. Their innovative designs and diversity of options make your training better – allowing you to reach your personal goals faster. And that’s why we love them.

Image and Photo Credits

  • The Rogue Fitness logo and product imagery on this page is property of Rogue Fitness and provided by Rogue Fitness.
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a female trainee performing the bench press on a flat bench with an olympic sized barbell.
The bench press is a safe and effective exercise when done properly.

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