Given there are a bevy of variables affecting the amount of assistance you receive from the bands in a reverse band bench press – the thickness of the band, how high above the bar the bands are attached, how many times the bands are looped around, how old the bands are, to name a few – one of the most common questions among people looking to reverse bench for the first time is, “I have know idea how much the bands are helping me….so where do I start poundage-wise for X number of sets and reps?”
See the video below to find out:
The reverse band bench press is a fantastic tool that I like to employ for four primary purposes:
1. As alluded to in the video above, there is less eccentric stress compared to a normal bench press – and way less eccentric stress compared to a bench press against bands - during the lift due to the fact that the bands are pulling in the opposite direction of gravity. In general, this makes it much more shoulder and elbow friendly, and it also doesn’t “tax” your body and central nervous system as much as a normal bench press would.
2. Because of point #1, the movement tends to be a bit easier on the joints. As such, I’ve been using it more and more with some of our athletes that either have shoulder pain, or are coming off of a surgery or rehab program.
3. It teaches the lifter to actively row, or pull, the bar down to him or her. One of the most common flaws I see in amateur lifters is failing to do just that, and it’s a technique I discussed in further detail in THIS post; basically, it’s going to engage the upper back more (always a good thing) and give you a more stable platform to press out of in the bottom. How you enter the tunnel affects how you exit the tunnel, if you will.
4. It helps improve the top half of your bench. Since the bands provide less assistance as you press up (the band becomes more slack) you are responsible for lifting a greater percentage of actual bar weight toward the end range of the lift.
There are a number of other reasons one would use it during a training cycle, but I’ll cut it there for now.
Oh, and I believe this goes without saying but, be very careful when loading and unloading the bar when it’s hanging from the bands. Things can get very chaotic really quickly if you’re not careful.