The Problem

You’re training hard for a bigger bench, but when the bar is on your chest, you feel as if all the pressure is on your pecs and your triceps. You’re not involving any other muscles, and you’re not getting stronger.

The Solution

Fix your grip. Instead of simply allowing the bar to sit on your palms—or worse, using the thumbless “suicide grip”—you need to start gripping the bar with authority and using the strength in your hands, wrists, and forearms to help you explode the bar through to lockout. Using a tight bench-press grip has myriad advantages. First, it helps activate your central nervous system, which better prepares you to handle heavy loads. Next, it recruits more of the stabilizing muscles in your lats, traps, deltoids, and mid-back. Finally, since you’ll never drop a barbell on your face if you employ this grip, benching with active hands will save you a ton of money on dental work.

Next: Brian Carroll’s Four-Step Bench Solution

Brian Carroll’s Four-Step Bench Solution

1] Get a grip.

Hold onto the bar firmly from the very beginning— even before you unrack it. This move will help you keep your entire upper body tight.

2] Wrap your thumbs.

There’s no reason to use a thumbless grip. It doesn’t enhance your strength, it won’t build more muscle, and it’s dangerous.

3] Break the bar in half.

Once the bar is free of the bench supports, hold it as if you’re trying to snap it in half. This is one of the keys to a bigger bench.

4] Bear down.

When the bar is on your chest, redouble your efforts. Grip the bar tighter and try to bend it into a horseshoe as you explode upward.