Why You Should Be Using Specialty Bars to Bench Press
Last month’s ARTICLE we looked at specialty bars and why you should use them for your training, particularly squat training. This month we are going to look at specialty bars and implementing them for training the bench press. Before everyone gets freaked out: No, we will not be using the same bars to bench that we used for squatting. Well, maybe one (evil voice).
Why use specialty bars when training the Bench Press?
We use specialty bars for the bench press for many of the same reasons we use them for squatting. Preventing (or working around) shoulder issues is a major concern. We will visit three different bars in this installment and break them down to be implemented into your training!
First up we have the EliteFTS Swiss Bar. At NBS Fitness we have two different styles of this bar. The first one is the standard bar that features a neutral grip, this means you are holding this bar and your palms will be facing each other (inward). Therefore this bar keeps your shoulders in ADDuction (elbows tucked into your side). Having your shoulders and arms in this position decreases the amount of strain that is put on your shoulder capsule along with pec major and minor. This bar will also force you to recruit the use of your triceps more than you are used to. There are three hand positions to grab this bar at. For smaller sized people I would recommend the innermost position. As your size increases along with shoulder width I would suggest moving out on the hand grips. If you are a beginner female, I would suggest inner most position. For a beginner-intermediate, medium-weight male I suggest the middle grip position. The characteristic of this bar is that it like to wobble just a little bit. This requires you to really lock in your lats and make sure your wrist wraps are on tight.
The second version of the Swiss Bar looks similar, but all three grip positions are different diameters. When you have a close, neutral hand position, you recruit more triceps from a body mechanics standpoint. Having a wider grip allows for an increase in grip contraction and recruits more lateral muscles in the forearm and triceps. As you progress outward on the grips, they get smaller, this allows you to focus more on pec contraction without the added variable of a wider grip. The innermost grips for this bar (shaped in a “V” pattern) allow for skull crushers, JM press, and CURL variations that hit your triceps AND BICEPS in a variety of different ways to introduce and new kind of hell.
The EliteFTS Football Bar is next, I would rate this one as the worst of the specialty bars for bench pressing. That comes from member/client feedback and also because it destroys my ego every time I use it. The personality of this bar comes from its angled grip and what it causes your wrists to do. All the grip positions are angled, similar to how a lineman would hit his opponent, (hence how the bar got its name). Because of the angle, this bar loves to wobble front to back, wreaking havoc on your wrist stability. I have the majority of my clients and teammates use the center grip on this, from my experience it offers the most stability to users (and this is still far less than a regular bar).
The last bar we are going to look at is not an actual specialty bar made to bench with, it is a specialty squat bar that some evil mind attempted to bench with one day and it offered them great results. We are going to learn how to use the EliteFTS Cambered Bar to bench! The personality and characteristics of this bar are the exact same for benching and squatting. This thing LOVE’S to oscillate back and forth during the eccentric and concentric phases. This bar cannot be used on a normal competition style bench. You need to set up on the OUTSIDE of a rack to bench with this bar so it does not hit and face savers or rails. The grip positions here are limited as the vertical rails of the bar need to be aligned parallel to the forearms allowing proper bench mechanics.
Try out these three specialty bars in your bench training to further you strength gains. If you have never used one before, there will be a learning curve but do not let them intimidate you. Just like the specialty squat bars, I promise there will be a positive transfer of strength when you go back to a normal bench bar. For any other questions please contact me at christian@NBSFitness.net or ask an orange shirt in the gym for help!