Strong Back, Bigger Bench


Want to bench-press more weight? Then you better strengthen more muscles than just your pecs — in particular, your back. “Upper-back development is key for two things: increasing stability of the shoulders and improving the arch,” says Dan Austin in his recently released book Powerlifting, co-written by Bryan Mann (Human Kinetics, 2012; “The bigger the upper back, the larger the launching pad for the bench press because the upper back is the part of the body that remains in contact with the weight bench at all times. Notice all big bench pressers have quite a large and well-developed upper back.” Austin, a 2011 Powerlifting Hall of Fame inductee, says pretty much any upper-back exercise — from pull-ups to rows to lat pulldowns — will help.