Quick Fixes For Glute Cramps While Bench Pressing
April 12th 2019
For a big bench press, many lifters emphasize the importance of leg drive. It is critical for lifters to know how to utilize leg drive so that they can effectively increase their bench press. However, you may have cramps, specifically glute cramps, from driving your heels into the ground while bench pressing. Are glute cramps while bench pressing normal? How can I get rid of them because they are a moderate annoyance and can interfere with my training? All these questions and more will be addressed down below.
Glute cramp while bench pressing
If you bench with a tight setup, glute cramps will happen. You can stretch your hips and back prior to benching but sometimes, cramps are inevitable. Rest assure that the frequency of glute cramps will decrease over time.
Glute cramps suck but at least they will decrease over time! But here are some tips to manage a glute cramp if you are bench pressing:
i) Stay hydrated
Are you thirsty? Muscle cramps can happen when you are dehydrated. So, if you are in a hot gym and doing some heavy bench press sets, make sure you get enough water.
Did you do some warm-ups to get the blood flowing in your glutes, hips, and back? Doing dynamic warm-ups can make a difference in whether or not you will sustain a glute cramp when getting into a tight set-up.
iii) Nerve compression
If you are bench pressing with a tight arch, there can be a good chance that you may have accidentally compressed a nerve. Whether you moved your leg in a certain way or shook your hips, nerve compression can cause you to feel cramping. However, you would feel instant relief after bench pressing.
iv) Get enough minerals
Did you know that getting too little calcium, potassium or magnesium can contribute to your glutes cramping? It is important to eat a well-balanced diet to regulate all your internal system activity. This includes eating your fruits and vegetables, which has all your minerals and micronutrients.
What to do if I get a glute cramp while bench pressing
So, your glutes are cramped up while you were bench pressing. Sure enough, after you stopped bench pressing, your glute cramp almost went away. Will it come back again. Here are some things to know about what to do after you got a glute cramp from the bench press:
1) Just deal with it
If you are absolutely looking to make sure your bench press setup is 100% perfect each time, you will need to maintain tightness and tension every time you bench press. This means you invite glutes cramps to invade your training space which may not be very exciting news to you. As mentioned earlier, glute cramps will occur less frequently the more you bench press.
I still get occasional glute cramps once in a while but they usually go away and do not return for a long, long time.
2) Have a more loose setup
If the glute cramp is really bothering you, you can perform a less strict setup. Do not arch as much and do not get as tight as before. This is a 100% guarantee and remedy that will halt your glute cramps. However, this does come at a price since you are not practicing your true bench press technique needed to tackle heavy weights. But when you are in pain and need some temporary solutions, this can help you greatly.
3) Use less leg drive
If you push less with your legs, you will not get cramps as bad. Again, this comes with a cost as you are not practicing your best bench press form. This should be used a temporary solution in order to alleviate glute tightness and pain from the cramp.
Sore glutes from bench press
From time to time, lifters may experience sore glutes from the bench press if they are constantly squeezing their buttocks throughout the entire lift. This may cause glute cramps, depending on the lifter. This is not an uncommon reaction to having a proper bench press set-up.
Activate your glutes before a bench press
As an exercise specialist, I have noticed two great exercises that you can do prior to getting into a tight bench press setup.
1) Hip Thrusts
Using a barbell plate or a loaded barbell on your hips, thrust up the weight by squeezing your glutes. Hold the top position for 2 seconds and go back down. The weight should not be too heavy so that you will fatigue your glutes. If your glutes are fatigued, you may be more prone to getting glute cramps.
Do some light hip thrusts for 1-2 sets of 8-12 reps.
2) Side clamshells
Lying on your side, you will bend both of your legs slightly. Like a clamshell, open up one leg while keeping your feet together. You should feel your glutes contracting as you open up and relaxing as you close your legs again. Do clamshells on both sides for 1-2 sets of 8-12 reps.
How far should I set my feet to prevent glute cramps in the bench press?
As a beginner lifter, you will initially place your feet where they are comfortable. As you gain more hip flexibility and stability, you can slowly move your feet more underneath you to develop a tighter arch.
For a novice lifter, it can be difficult to recommend them to push their legs as far as possible under them. For beginners, they are not accustomed to that level of tightness. Second, they have not gained the required hip mobility and flexibility in order to stabilize their bench press setup. As a result, they will wind up with crushed bench press set and a cramped glute.
Some bigger and heavier lifters may also have trouble trying to get their legs as far as they can under them.
Obviously, the most optimal bench press set-up possible is if the lifter is able to push their feet underneath them as far as they can to maintain a tight arch, while their buttocks are still on the bench. To be competitive in the sport, lifters will need to strive to utilize their leverages and strength.
So, where should your feet be to prevent glute cramps? When you first start off bench pressing, you can place your feet where they are comfortable. As you gain more training experience, you can slowly inch your feet underneath you as you develop better hip flexibility and stability.
Bench press foot placement and glute cramps
Bench pressing with your toes will cause more glute cramps than bench pressing with flat feet since you can theoretically create a tighter bench arch with the former setup. However, if you are always striving to get a tight bench press setup, any foot placement you use will always put you at risk for a glute cramp.
Should you stay on your toes or keep your feet flat on the ground? If you bench press while only using your toes, you can create a tighter arch and keep a much more stable bench press position. However, you cannot really recruit anymore leg drive at this point.
On the other hand, keeping your entire feet on the ground will create a lower arch position for you. However, you do create more untapped energy to explode out of the bench press hole with.
With both setups and depending on your mobility, you may get glute cramps with both foot placements. It may be more common to get a glute cramp with a toe only foot placement since you are in a tighter bench press setup.
However, I have tried both bench press foot placements and have suffered glute cramps using both. As long as you are maintaining a tight bench arch, you will create the risk to develop a glute cramp.
A glute cramp during a bench press should be nothing to worry about. It is a side-reaction to having a tight bench press setup. Frequent glute cramps may be a sign of another issue that needs to be addressed. Nevertheless, glute cramps will decrease in frequency as you continue to make sure practice good form.