There's A Simple Reason Your Bench is Off
Raise your hand if you have a great deadlift and a subpar bench….I’ll go first. This problem is usually due to having disproportionate long arms. The same long arms that help reach the bar on deadlifts have to travel miles to lock out the bar on the bench. More specifically, this is caused by the length of your humerus (the upper arm bone) that creates a longer lever arm in relation to the barbell.
If you have a long humerus, it is very likely that most of your missed reps on bench press are due to lagging triceps that are unable to extend your elbows. The fastest, most efficient way to increase pressing strength in this situation is directly targeting the triceps in a pressing motion. Much to our luck, there is a special bar that can help lifters overcome anatomy and target the correct muscles during a bench.
Benefits of the Swiss Bar
Overcoming Anatomy Imbalances
Trying to directly target your triceps with a barbell is sometimes difficult because of the inevitable pec engagement (especially when you have long arms). There are specialty bars - such as the swiss bar- that can help eliminate as much pec engagement as possible and force the triceps to work harder. The swiss bar consists of multiple parallel handles running along the length of the bar which allows for a barbell press with a neutral grip.
By the nature of its slightly angled design, the bar places a greater demand on the triceps by forcing the elbows against your body, creating more bend at the elbows compared to a regular barbell. This position is similar to a dumbbell neutral grip bench press, offering the stability of a barbell and the ability to use heavier weights. Although not necessary, specialty bars like these do offer more options when it comes to training for a bigger bench press.
How about nagging shoulder pain when benching? Another benefit of the swiss bar is the reduced strain on the shoulders. The design of the bar promotes a pressing motion with the elbows tucking in very close to the body. This eliminates any internal rotation that may be causing discomfort on a regular barbell bench press, and also promote a stable back position with proper scapular retraction.
Although benching with a regular barbell without shoulder discomfort is absolutely possible, it does require a fair amount of skill and kinesthetic awareness that you may not have yet. This is where using the swiss bar bench press has its advantages, as it allows you to make gains while still mastering your technique.
See Also: "Swiss Bar Bench Explained" on YouTube
How to Incorporate A Swiss Bar into your Routine
The swiss bar, although not a substitute for the straight bar bench press, can be programmed into a powerlifter’s training to increase their gains. The swiss bar bench should be viewed as an accessory lift that should be done after your main barbell work.
You can think of the frequency and importance of a swiss bar bench in a program as very similar to that of dumbbell bench pressing. You wouldn’t just dumbbell bench press to get your bench press stronger, but you would rather use it in combination with the bench press.
This is the same reasoning we should use when programming the swiss bar bench. At the end of the day, bench pressing is still very much a skill that needs to be practiced, but through the correctly programmed accessory work, you can add the necessary muscle in the upper body to increase it.
Use Equipment to Enhance your Training
Now you know of one more tool in your toolbox as a lifter to keep progressing your bench press. The swiss bar can be immensely helpful if used appropriately in conjunction with good programming. Take this knowledge and apply it to your training to stop using the excuse that you have long arms or a nagging shoulder that keeps you from benching big.