Unlocking Your Potential: Improving Bench Press Lockouts through Lat Strength

Ashleigh Bailey

Unlocking Your Potential: Improving Bench Press Lockouts

Bench press lockouts can be a frustrating experience for many powerlifters. After failing a bench press at the lockout, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that it’s due to weak triceps. However, while that may be true in some cases, a common cause of inability to lock out is losing scapular retraction (and depression) at some point in the rep. This puts our shoulders in a compromised position, making it very difficult to lock out a heavy bar.

So, what can we do to overcome this issue and improve our lockouts? Building stronger lats through accessory work may help with this. The latissimus dorsi (lats) are the largest muscles in the upper back and play a crucial role in stabilising the shoulders. When the lats are strong, they help maintain an advantageous pressing position, making it easier to lock out the bar.

To target the lats, there are several accessory exercises that you can add to your routine. Lat engagement drills such as pull-ups, chin-ups, and lat pulldowns are excellent exercises to help build stronger lats. These exercises help activate the lats, allowing them to assist in locking out the bar during a bench press.

Another useful exercise for improving bench press lockouts is the paused bench press. This variation involves pausing the bar at a certain point in the rep, usually at or just below the chest, and holding it for a few seconds. This pause forces you to maintain tension in your upper back and lats, helping to strengthen these muscles and improve your lockouts.

One specific variation of the paused bench press is the Spoto Press, named after powerlifter Mark Spoto. This exercise involves pausing the bar just above the chest, allowing for a more intense contraction of the lats and triceps. The Spoto Press is a challenging exercise that can help build the necessary strength to improve your lockouts.

The Takeaway
If you're struggling with bench press lockouts, it may be due to a lack of scapular retraction and depression. Building stronger lats through accessory work, such as lat engagement drills and paused bench variations, can help you maintain an advantageous pressing position and improve your lockouts. Give these exercises a try and see how they can help you reach your powerlifting goals.


@darwin.pl talks about the bench press lockout in the reel below!

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