What is the most common question you hear when you lift weights? “How much do you bench bro?”
With everything that we hear about the benefits of deadlifting and squatting for grapplers, is the bench press really a good exercise for grapplers?
Yes it is.
The bench press works the pectoralis major as well as supporting chest, arm, and shoulder muscles such as the anterior deltoids, serratus anterior, coracobrachialis, scapulae fixers, trapezii, and the triceps.
You need to adapt the bench press to replicate the movements that you do when grappling. Instead of using the common wide grip, you should use a shoulder width grip. This will mimic the size of your opponent, and all three important muscle groups will be equally working: chest, shoulders and triceps.
While bench pressing, keeping your elbows close to your body and feet back are the keys to making this exercise specific to movements of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This is as sports-specific we can make it to help us get out of The Mount or Side Control.
Erik “Captain” Wekerle, a BJJ practitioner with a Degree in Exercise Science offers some great advice on how to adapt your bench press workout for Grappling. Wekerle is a former competitive bodybuilder and American Football player at the University of Kentucky. Be sure to check out his YouTube channel (ProtectYaNeckFitness): https:
Wekerle stresses the following adaptions to the bench press for grappling:
– Keep the elbows by your side.
– Bar should be low on your hand.
– Feet flat on ground.
– Arch your back.
– Bar should be between top abs and niples.
– Inhale when lowering the bar and exhale when pushing.
– Do not bounce the bar…
Wekerle offers more good advice on this video:
BJJ black belt Nick Albin recommends the floor press, which is a variation of the chest press. It’s a great exercise for developing an explosive push from the ground which will help serve any BJJ player well when they need it. It also has the added benefit of helping build strong triceps and making someone better from the lock out position of the chest press, if you’re into that sort of thing.
If you’ve never done the floor press, give it a try. It’s a fantastic exercise.