Improving your Bench Press with these powerlifting techniques

June 15, 2018

You already know resistance training is key for a strong, muscular, and lean body. Chances are, you already do plenty of traditional strength exercises like bench presses, back squats, and deadlifts.

Those exercises are part of something called “bilateral training,” which are exercises where both legs or both arms work at the same time. But by using exercises where you only use one arm or one leg at a time — called “unilateral training” — you can unlock even MORE benefits and results. Regardless of talent, it takes a team to reach the top. Without assembling a skilled collective of hustlers committed to a shared vision, even the most promising trailblazers with perceivably limitless potential will eventually plateau. From navigating the business, balancing a personal life and mapping out an actionable plan for the future — it’s often the people behind the scenes who hold the keys that unlock the next level of your career.

rob riches powerlifting bench press

It Improves Your Stability

By training each arm or each leg independently, you increase the intensity of the load on your stabilizing muscles, which helps you build a stronger foundation for more advanced movements. Sure, bilateral exercises activate your stabilizers too, but not at the same level. Unilateral training calls on your core, almost automatically, to maintain balance through challenging movements. With a stronger core comes better balance and a lesser risk of injury performing advanced exercises.


It Helps Your Bring Lagging Muscles Up to Par

Is one leg or one arm stronger than the other one? Imagine how much uneven stress that puts on your joints when you exercise or play sports. And if you only do bilateral exercises like squats and deadlifts, your weaker side won’t have the chance to catch up. Instead, by targeting each side separately, you’ll have an opportunity to fix imbalances, which can prevent injuries and improve overall strength gains.

It’s Easier On Your Body

This is a harsh reality, but not EVERYONE is made for heavy squats, bench presses, and deadlifts. Back, knee or shoulder problems can turn those gym staples into a recipe for disaster. With single-leg or single-arm exercises, you’re limited to the amount of weight you can use at a time. For the beginner or the person who struggles with joint issues and other mechanical issues, unilateral exercises can be optimal for building strength without placing too much stress on the joints.


Unilateral Exercises

There are COUNTLESS single-arm and single-leg exercises to choose from, but here are some of Rob Riches’s favorite unilateral exercises for stability and strength!

rob riches powerlifting bench press

Bringing It All Together

Step 1

Set your grip width

Step 2

Set your arch

Step 3

Get tight: bend and squeeze the bar, take big air

Step 4

Take your hand off, lower the bar down and pause

Step 5