Taekwondo Strength Training – How To Perform The Flat Benchpress

In the previous article [Taekwondo Strength Training Basics – The Bench Press] we discussed the benefits and uses of the flat benchpress within a strength training programme.

In this article we will address how to perform the movement correctly and safely. To perform the movement using a barbell (either fixed i.e. Smith machine or free) we need to focus on five distinct phases as follows:

1. The rack position: Start by lying on a horizontal (flat) bench with your buttocks on the bench and feet in a wide stance and flat on the ground. Looking straight upwards ensuring the barbell is straight and above your head grasp the barbell wider than shoulder width apart with an overhand grip.

The overhand grip needs to lock the barbell into position by having the fingers and thumb opposite each other and nestled into your palms. Once you feel comfortable extend your elbows and lift the barbell out of the rack until it is parallel with your chest and your arms are straight. Ensure you have no obstructions and can move freely.

2. The start position: Maintaining the position you had in the rack position ‘lock’ (contract) your core by arching your back slightly and sticking your chest out forwards. Push your feet into the ground and make sure you feel stable before you attempt to complete and movement.

3. The descent phase: Maintain the rack and start positions and take in a deep breath. In a slow and controlled manner descend by flexing the elbow joint trying to ensure that your elbows stay in line with your shoulders. This is a very important thing to remember to avoid injury to the elbow joint and losing control of the barbell! When the barbell touches your chest we move into the next phase.

4. The ascent phase: Once the barbell has touched your chest, ensuring your elbows are in line with the shoulders and maintaining that good rack position you then ascend the barbell upwards by extending at the elbow joint and driving in an explosive manner with all of the supporting muscles of the chest (as mentioned in the last article) whilst exhaling. Once you have come back to the start position we move into the final phase.

5. The re-rack position: Ensuring that the barbell is still locked tight into your palms then slowly lower the barbell into the rack until it is safely in the rack cups. Only once the barbell has been safely racked and the weight has been taken away from your arms do you let go of the bar completely.

Remember a few simple tips when performing the flat benchpress: keep your torso locked tight and arch your back, push your feet into the ground, chest out and keep your elbows in line with your shoulders!

Remember safety first at all times guys!

Let me know what you think of this article in the comments box below. And as always, let me know your Strength training questions.

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About Carl

Carl is a former competitor with over 8 years international competition and 6 years international coaching experience. Carl now works as a UKSCA accredited Strength and Conditioning coach at Liverpool John Moores University (one of Europe's leading Sport Science institutions) and also has qualifications in performance nutrition and sports therapy. He has just completed his Masters degree studying the field of making weight and physiology of Olympic Taekwondo competition and is now studying for his PhD within the same fields.