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  • Writer's pictureCoach AP

Soft Touch vs. Heavy Touch: Which Bench Press Technique is Best for You?

For powerlifters, the bench press is not just an exercise; it's a fundamental pillar of strength training. It's the lift that tests your upper body prowess, demands technique, and can make or break your performance on the platform. Among the many debates within this lift, the "Soft Touch vs. Heavy Touch" discussion often arises, leaving lifters wondering which technique is truly superior.

Let's dive into the nuances of these two bench press techniques and explore which one might suit your style and goals.


Soft Touch Technique

The technique of maintaining leg drive and rib cage position involves a focused effort on using leg drive throughout the lift and ensuring the rib cage remains in an elevated and stacked position throughout the movement. This approach emphasizes the continual engagement of the lower body, translating that force into a stabilized upper body and enhanced overall pressing power.

Pros:

1. Enhanced Stability: Utilizing leg drive and stabilizing the rib cage maintains a solid base throughout the lift, enhancing overall stability.

2. Efficient Energy Transfer: The force generated from the legs is efficiently transferred to the upper body, optimizing pressing power.

Cons:

1. Requires Practice: Mastering this technique demands practice to synchronize leg drive with the pressing motion effectively.

2. Potential for Overemphasis: Focusing excessively on leg drive might cause neglect in other crucial aspects of the lift, such as bar path and grip.

Heavy Touch or "Sinking"

Contrastingly, the technique of sinking the bar involves deliberately allowing the barbell to sink into the chest before explosively launching it back up. This method emphasizes a controlled descent, aiming to generate momentum from the chest to aid in the subsequent upward phase of the lift.

Pros:

1. Utilizes Momentum: Allowing the bar to sink creates momentum, potentially assisting in overcoming sticking points.

2. Potential for Explosiveness: The stored energy from the descent can be harnessed for a powerful upward drive.

Cons:

1. Risk of Loss of Control: Allowing the bar to sink might compromise control, leading to instability during the ascent.

2. Dependent on Precision: Reversing the motion precisely after the bar sinks requires careful timing and coordination, especially with heavier weights.

Choosing the Right Technique for You

Determining the best technique for your bench press regimen necessitates an understanding of personal strengths, training objectives, and competition strategy.

For competition purposes: Experiment with both techniques during training to identify which aligns best with your lifting style and everages, and consistently allows you to perform optimally on the platform.

For strength and technique development: Consider integrating both techniques into your routine. Focusing on maintaining leg drive and rib cage position can enhance stability, while sinking the bar can aid in explosive strength development.

Considering injury prevention: Pay attention to how each technique affects your body. Some lifters might find that sinking the bar increases stress on the shoulders or chest.

Ultimately, the choice between maintaining leg drive and rib cage position versus sinking the bar hinges on individual preferences, training goals, and biomechanical considerations. Mastery of either technique necessitates dedicated practice, deliberate refinement, and a keen awareness of how your body responds. Remember, the most effective technique is the one that enables you to lift safely, efficiently, and confidently.

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