As an offensive lineman myself, I spent my fair share on the bench press trying to get that my upper body strength up. It was understood that you need to have a big bench press to be considered a top recruit.
More importantly, the 225lbs bench press test has become synonymous with strength is all football athletes, not just offensive linemen. There is a problem with this thinking on a large scale. Benching has very little to do with your upper body strength when it comes to standing and performing. Second a valid indicator of power in a football player would be the deadlift or the squat. Not the bench press.
The bench press romanticized, and it is outrageous oh much stake is put in this single lift. I will preface all of this saying that there is nothing inherently wrong with benching. There is something wrong with the amount of time spent doing it.
Offensive linemen should be taking a different approach to training. This article will cover some of the best ways you can train your upper body without having to lay on a bench press.
The overhead press is one of the best expressions of upper body strength that no one is doing. When you put a weight overhead, you are using your entire body to stabilize alongside using your arms to move a weight.
It is by far the best expression of functional upper body strength. There is no time when you are on the field laying on your back pressing unless you are on your back trying to push someone off of you and if that is the case you need far more work than just upper body strength.
I digress. When you train the overhead press, you have no support to help maximize your power, but you need to create the system of stability with your body.
The Set Up
When overhead pressing first set the bar up on the rack at a proper height. Slightly lower than the collarbone is a right place to start.
When you take the bar off the rack, you should wedge yourself into the bar. Get both feet under the bar, take a deep breath, and pop it off the pins.
When taking your steps back away from the rack make sure they are deliberate, do not make them long or in short. Once your feet are in the right position, you want to squeeze your thighs and your glutes as hard as possible.
The legs and glutes being squeeze is the foundation upon which you are going to press from, another aspect that needs to be dealt with are the lats. The lats should be squeezed hard as well.
Once you have all of these check-marks figured out, you can start the press. Merely explode up from your shoulders, and once the bar passes your head, you should bring your face forward. This will put the bar in the right position for a full extension.
Use Resistance Bands
Using resistance bands to improve athletic performance is not a new concept, it is, in fact, an old concept. There is a reason why it is still around today.
Offensive linemen can take a note from the book of boxers; I am impressed by the number of training styles a fighter will try to improve their performance. They will use a resistance band place around their backs, under their armpits and will throw punches, this adds resistance and is said to increase the velocity of the blows of the boxer.
Offensive linemen can benefit from this same style of training. The offensive linemen's punch is one of the most crucial weapons in their arsenal. Offensive linemen with a powerful punch are going to have a far more beneficial time at all aspects of the game then those that have a moderate blow.
Get yourself a sturdy resistance band and loop it behind your back, get in your pass pro set up and punch. Simple as that!
Medicine Ball Work
Probably the most common tool used for training offensive linemen upper bodies is the medicine ball. A medicine ball can be used in a variety of ways. It can be used as a tool to pass between athletes.
Offensive linemen can use a medicine ball to train their punch, their core, and even their explosive power. The medicine ball in a versatile tool. Training with a medicine ball is simple as well. If you have access to a set of medicine balls then here are a couple of ways you can utilize them best.
With a friend get into your pass protection stance and place the ball in the center of your chest, holding the ball like you would be punching an opponent. Send the ball out to your partner with as much power as you can. It is important not to choose a medicine ball that is too heavy, if the ball is too heavy then you will not be able to move the ball fast enough to be explosive.
When you are receiving the ball act as if a defensive lineman is rushing in toward you. Apply pressure but also absorb the impact if you can.
Pick up and Explode:
Place a medicine ball about 2 feet in front of you, get into a four-point stance and when you are ready to hop forward, grab onto the ball, pick it up and explode it forward. You can send it to a partner, or you can do it on your own, either way, works.
Train Your Triceps
The Triceps are the most important muscles when it comes to punching power. Many believe the chest or pectorals are the most important muscle for the punch. Having a strong chest is essential, but it is not the most crucial aspect. The triceps are. The most amount of movement or range of motion occurs at the arms.
So having a robust set of triceps is extremely important for offensive linemen. Here are a few ways to get your triceps as strong as possible.
Standing Overhead Tricep Extension:
Keeping everything the same as the overhead press you are going to want to have your hand narrower during this movement. However, you will also be using a far lighter load as well.
With the weight overhead, you are going to bring the bar down behind your head keeping your upper arm in position. You do not need to go all the way down to the bottom but keep it close to the bottom. Return the bar overhead without moving the upper arm.
Dumbbell Rolling Tricep Extension:
Laying on the floor, grab two dumbbells that are moderate in weight. Hold them like they are at the top of the press position. Keeping your upper arm in the same place for now bring the dumbbells down toward your face, make sure your hands are in a hammer position.
Now once the dumbbells touch your shoulders, you are going to want to let the shoulders roll backward, once the dumbbells reach the floor roll the shoulders forward into a full triceps extension.
Offensive linemen reading this article should know that I do not hate on the bench press. It was a big part of my training as powerlifting. I am merely stating that the overuse of the movement is very apparent in the sport. It is because, having a big bench is synonymous with having a strong upper body.
Little do many offensive linemen realize that there are better ways to get a strong upper body without laying on a bench for most of your upper body training sessions.
What you have read here today is nothing more than what I coach my offensive linemen to do. They are also just alternatives that you may or may not what to play around with. Either way gets out there and works hard. Remember Hit him, not to him!