Tweak your tech­nique in the bench press, dead­lift and back squat for near-in­stant gains

Men's Fitness - - Features -

01 Find your width

A nar­row grip on the bar when bench­ing works your tri­ceps harder, while go­ing wide can in­crease your in­jury risk. Work out your most ef­fi­cient grip width by mea­sur­ing the dis­tance be­tween the stick­ing-out bits on your col­lar­bone and mul­ti­ply­ing it by 1.5.

02 Take three steps

“Don’t shuf­fle the bar out of the rack when you squat,” says Sko­r­pion fit­ness coach James Adam­son. “The best lifters take it out in three steps: back, back, slightly to the side.” Any more wastes en­ergy you could be us­ing to get the weight back up.

03 Use pre-ten­sion

Dur­ing the dead­lift, take the strain on the bar for a sec­ond or two be­fore you pull. You should be aim­ing to cre­ate ten­sion in your lats, ham­strings and glutes be­fore you ac­tu­ally move.

04 Stay solid

In the squat and dead­lift, in­traab­dom­i­nal pres­sure – the feel­ing you get when you brace for a punch in the stom­ach – is key. “Take a big breath and hold it through a big lift,” says Adam­son. “You’ll cre­ate a more sta­ble base for lift­ing.”

05 Think pock­ets

Ef­fi­cient dead­lift­ing means keep­ing your shoul­der blades aligned and pro­tect­ing your lower back. “Pull your shoul­der blades down and back, to­wards your back pock­ets,” says Adam­son. “It’ll stop you hunch­ing – and let you lift more weight.”

06 Curve your press

Ama­teur benchers press the bar straight up, then back. Pros press back and up. That was the con­clu­sion of Thomas McLaugh­lin, who com­pared na­tion­al­lyranked pow­er­lifters with novices, and found that the very best save the “straight up” bit for the end.

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