The barbell bench press is one of the most practiced lifting movements, even individuals who have little to no interaction with a strength and conditioning setting still know about the bench press. The first question anyone asks when they see an athlete or gym goer is, “How much do you bench?” The bench has been a staple in many programs and will continue to be well into the future. With so much attention and hype surrounding this movement it is confusing as to why many fail to practice it correctly.

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There are three parts to a muscular contraction, one of those being the eccentric or muscle lengthening phase. Mike Saraceno puts an emphasis on the tempo of his player’s bench to help increase athlete’s strength, specifically he asks for special attention on the eccentric phase of the contraction ensuring it lasts a minimum of 5 seconds. Watch the video below to see Coach Saraceno taking his athletes through a tempo bench set.

A proper tempo on the bench press as well as on any movement will in fact help elicit greater strength gains than a sloppily timed movement. According to the sliding filament theory a muscle is capable of producing the most force while contracting under stretch. This is why here at Smarter Team Training we also place an emphasis on the eccentric phase not only on the bench press, but in all of our lifts. We ask our athletes every time to always lower their weights not only in a slow, but also a controlled way, always paying special attention to the eccentric phase of the movement.

Fast bouncing reps on the bench may have a place in the NFL combine when athletes are just trying to crank out as many reps as humanly possible, and show off as best they can. But ask yourself are you trying to show off? Are you trying to have your athlete peacock in front of the rest of the gym? Or are you trying to have them get stronger, to be able to withstand more stress on the field, to help them prevent injury, and be better players all around.

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