The Barbell Bench Press is obviously the most common exercise for working the chest…yet it has a major flaw. A good portion of the movement doesn’t necessarily focus on the pecs. The top half of the movement involves a lot of triceps activation.
So how do we increase the specific tension being placed on the pecs during the barbell bench press? Easy. We focus more time on the bottom 1/4 of the exercise, where the pecs are under greater stretch.
This is done by using a technique called “one and a quarter reps”.
And it’s actually quite simple.
Start with the bar at the top position as you normally would.
Lower the bar to your chest.
Press it back up to just below the sticking point (about 1/4 of the way up). DO NOT use this as an excuse to bounce the bar off your chest. It should be done under complete control, keeping solid tension on the pecs.
Lower the bar back down to your chest.
Then press back up to lockout.
This will essentially add an extra rep in the most productive portion of the movement for the pecs. You’ll be spending more time under tension in that bottom position (great for building muscle) and developing strength out of the bottom of the bench (which will carry over to full-range reps).
One thing to note with breathing…I find it best to hold my breath while doing that 1/4 rep at the bottom. Breathe in as you lower down on the original negative from lockout, hold while doing the quarter, then exhale on the full press up, after you pass the sticking point.
This is a very easy technique to incorporate into your regular bench training and it has tremendous potential to improve pec development.
Nick Nilsson is known in the fitness industry as the “Mad Scientist of Muscle,” and for good reason! For more than 28 years, Nick has been creating unique, new exercises and training techniques and putting together some of the most innovative muscle-building and fat-loss programs available anywhere.