The bench press is one of the most popular and satisfying exercises to perform in the gym. Go to any gym and you will find the bench press area crowded of guys trying to outdo each other on the amount they can lift. Why is the bench press so popular? Most guys who start training at the gym want to have impressive biceps first, just after that comes a toned stomach or a deep manly chest. And the bench press is pretty good at that – developing the pectoral muscles. However, in order to get the most from the bench press, don’t just pile on the discs plates but rather learn the correct technique and tips described here.
The bench press is performed on a stable flat bench with supports at one end for the barbell. When you try the exercise for the first time, as with any other exercise, do so with no weight or with very little weight first to get the technique right and feel the movement as you go through the motion. Lie flat on the bench with your feet flat on the floor for maximum stability. If your are short and your feet cannot lie flat, place discs under them .
Grip the bar
The next stage is perhaps the most critical one in performing the bench press correctly – get your grip right. Too close and you are placing emphasis on your triceps. As your triceps are weaker muscles than your pecs, you will not be able to lift as heavy and anyway, you will not be working your pecs to their limit. If your grip is too wide, you end up targeting your front shoulder muscles more than your pecs. These shoulder muscles, the anterior deltoids, are also weaker than the pecs and will result in a lighter lift. The correct grip to target your pecs most efficiently without recruiting other secondary muscles more than necessary is when your arms are bent at 90 degrees whilst you are in the process of pushing up the bar. At his point, both the bar and your upper arms are parallel to each other and the floor. The first few times you perform this lift, you will have to move your hands around during the exercise in order to find the optimum grip width. This is why you should try the exercise with an unloaded bar first until you get the hang of it. Afterwards, as you get more experienced, you will know the right grip width by habit.
Now that you’ve got your starting position sorted out, take a breath, lift the bar off the support brackets and straighten your arms. This is the starting position.
Lower the bar under control and take a deep breath as you do so. When you get to the bottom of the movement, the bar should be just above your nipples approximately. Reverse the direction smoothly without pausing at the bottom of the movement and push up whilst breathing out forcefully. At the top of the exercise, do not lock your elbows. This is to prevent the weight from resting on your bones rather than letting the muscles work at holding up the weight.
You have now completed one repetition of the exercise. Continue the same process about 10 times to complete a set.
Remember, don’t lift heavy, lift smart.