Move of the Week: Half-body Bench Press

Move of the Week time! Here’s another one to keep your workouts fresh and challenging.

THE MOVE: Half-body Bench Press

MOVEMENT PATTERN AND MUSCLES WORKED: Horizontal push: chest, shoulders, core.

WHY DO IT: The bench press has been getting a lot of love here on this blog lately. Well, here’s another to stoke the fire. Typically, bench presses are done with the back fully supported on a flat bench, with the shoulder blades locked down and immobilized. When we shift over on the bench and let one side hang off, however, interesting things happen that make today’s move a worthwhile inclusion into your workout.

Going half-body allows you to get your scaps moving, like in last week’s move. It also requires more control throughout the body, both when it comes to the weight used and the involvement of your core and legs.

In the Half-body Bench Press, there is a huge anti-rotation component. When you bring the dumbbell down, you definitely do not want to bring the rest of your body down with you. Thus your core must control for the rotation effect imparted by the dumbbell. The goal here should be to keep your torso solid as a rock, while you let the dumbbell ride down naturally with scapular retraction.

For stability, you must also maintain full hip extension and push your feet into the ground so that you don’t fall over. This is similar to the leg drive required in the standard barbell bench, which we discussed in last week’s article on boosting your powerlifting total.

HOW TO DO IT: Set up as you would for a normal dumbbell bench press. This time though, you are going to shift your body over so that the working side is hanging off the bench. A good cue here is to put the midline of your body right on top of the edge of the bench.

As in other bench press variations, get your feet under you and squeeze your glutes to fully extend the hips. Arch your back slightly, but keep your core braced. Let the dumbbell down until you feel a stretch in your pecs, and then drive it up by pushing away from the floor. Repeat for reps and on each side.

Once again, throughout the movement you want to keep your torso solid and allow your scaps to move on the ribcage. Think about going into retraction (towards the spine) at the bottom, and into protraction (towards the armpit) at the top. You should feel your abs light up in this movement, especially on the side that is off the bench.

The Half-body Bench Press will provide a fresh challenge in your bench press workout. I’d recommend it for 3-4 sets of 6-8/side, after you’ve done your main lift of the day. Let us know what you think on Twitter or Instagram @halevylife !

by Jeremy Lau

Jeremy Lau

Jeremy Lau Halevy Life Staff CoachJeremy Lau is a Senior Staff Coach at Halevy Life.

Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and received his Master’s in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).

Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.

As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.