The Bench Pull - Bench Press's forgotten sibling?!

The Bench Pull - Bench Press's forgotten sibling?!

We all know the barbell bench press. But do you know the bench pull?

The bench press is a staple of strength training, it is often quoted as a strength standard or used to gauge another's strength, and is one of the trifecta of lifts in Powerlifting competition

What is ideal with the bench press is that it does a good job of isolating the press - no way of really cheating this movement as your back is flat on the bench.

However, when we look at a pull - of the many variations, there is little to truly isolate the pull movement; barbell bent over rows for example are a great row/ pull - hinging at the hips, but often performed at different angles of hinge, and with the maximum weight lifted determined by the ability to maintain posture.

This is where the Bench Pull can be effective.

Consider it the complete reverse of the bench press; chest is flat on the bench, and all other assistance of the pull is isolated, it is simply arms and back combining to pull/ row the bar horizontally (well vertically, but perpendicular to your body)

.Bench Pull set up

Where many other pull/ row variations either require a machine (often performed seated), the bench pull allows you to measure and compare you push: pull ratio accurately - as grip/ equipment and set up are directly comparable. For those who bench press a lot, you want to really try to equal your pulling strength, not only for symmetry, and to balance posture, but also to keep shoulders healthy and reduce injury risk when pushing.

I designed the Milway Performance Bench to be compatible with this exercise - as I had frequently struggled to find benches that would allow me to set up a bench pull for athletes. Jerk blocks or bumper plates allow you to easily raise the bench up to the desired height and set up a comfortable position, such as here at Black Country Barbell

A couple of technique tips for the Bench Pull:

  • Keep head neutral - in reality this means resting forehead on the bench and pulling you chin in.
  • Focus on the concentric portion of the row and aim for full range. We often say 'ring the bell' whereby we mean pull the bar right up until it hits the underside of the bench, and gives off a ring. If it doesn't ring it doesn't count as a rep!
  • When load increases there is temptation to peel shoulders and chest away from the bench, but this isn't beneficial. Instead, try to pull your belly button away from the bench and tighten the trunk. Which will help you pull better.




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