Get your head right. This is true with all sticking points regardless of the point at
which you stall out. If you believe you always miss at the top, then
you'll always miss at the top! Your mind has a lot to do with your
sticking points. I try to teach all the athletes I work with to
visualize their sticking point at a higher position and focus very
hard on driving the bar through it. In other words, when you bench
you must focus on pushing the bar very fast through your sticking
point. Focus will make a big difference.
Learn to use your triceps. This is done by keeping your body tight and focusing on pulling the
bar apart. This will involve your triceps more throughout the
movement and keep the bar moving in a straight line. A good trick to
teach you to do this is to use a mini band from Jump Stretch Inc. You
double the band up and wrap it around you wrists while you bench.
This forces you to pull the bar apart and grasp the barbell tight.
If not, your hands will be shot together. Pull the bar apart and
watch that sticking point disappear!
Start the bar where you want to finish. This is a very simple concept but it's very seldom practiced. Most
lifters will un-rack the bar and lower it to the chest without
setting the bar first. This is usually done by habit and will cause
you to lower the bar in a diagonal pattern that will result in you
pushing it back up in the same pattern. When you push the bar back
toward the rack there's more rotation and less emphasis on the
triceps. You need to un-rack the bar, then "set it" in the same exact
position in which you want to finish. This should be directly above
where you lower the bar. If you bench to your lower pecs then the
bar must start above the lower pecs. This will create a straight
line both on the eccentric and concentric. Remember, the shortest
distance between two points in a straight line. Set the bar!
Move the bar fast. You need to make sure you're pressing as fast as possible to bust
through your sticking point. A slow press won't build enough
momentum to bust past your sticking point. If you're trying to open
a stuck door would you try to open it slowly or would you bust into
it as hard as possible? Speed is key!
Strengthen the top half. There are several movements that can help you strengthen the muscles
that lockout the bench. These are best done using the max effort
method. This is the method where you work up to a one or three-rep
max on the movement.
The best movement for a weak lockout is a three or four board press.
A board press is preformed by using three or four 2 x 6 boards
placed on your chest. Lower the bar to the boards, pause and press
back up. In extreme cases you may want to use a set of mini bands on
the bar as well.
A second movement that works
very well is the floor press with the use of chains. The floor press
is performed the same as the bench press except you're lying on the
floor. Work up to about 60 to 70% of your best bench, then begin
adding one set of chains on the bar with each additional set. You
fail when you can no longer add any more chains. The chains increase
the weight at the top of the lift while de-loading it in the bottom.