The bench press is the reigning king of higher physique barbell workouts for a lot of lifters. Even non-lifters are aware of muscular athletes demonstrating their power performing a bench press. It’s nearly universally acknowledged as the strategy to construct your chest, shoulders, and triceps.
As a result of you may have the potential to place a lot weight on the bar, the bench press is the best weapon in your train arsenal for gaining higher physique power and muscle mass. The larger your bench, the larger your higher physique.
Right here’s every thing you’ll want to learn about performing the bench press to construct a bigger, stronger, extra muscular chest.
The bench press is a foundational train, useful for almost each lifter within the health club. Whereas some lifters over-focus on the train or misuse it, doubtlessly resulting in damage, it might play a key function in constructing muscle and power for novices in addition to skilled lifters.
Studying correct methods is crucial for maximizing advantages and minimizing damage danger. the steps under shall be your finest place to begin.
Step 1 — Preliminary Setup
Lie flat on the bench together with your head beneath the bar. Put your ft up on the bench, seize the bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip, and squeeze your shoulder blades collectively. Place your ft on the bottom together with your knees bent. Shifting your heels in direction of the bench will enable extra decrease physique rigidity and drive manufacturing.
Really feel a robust connection to the bench by way of your whole physique. Preserve your shoulder blades in a retracted place. Squeeze the bar with each arms to make sure tightness.
Kind Tip: Your grip width can play a task in concentrating on or emphasizing sure muscle tissues in the course of the bench press. A wider grip will goal the sternal head (inside portion) of the pecs and anterior delts (entrance shoulder) extra, whereas a more in-depth grip will focus extra on the triceps and clavicular (higher) chest. (1) Start coaching with a shoulder-width grip to construct muscle coordination and scale back joint pressure. Implement some slight adjustments in your grip as you change into extra skilled.
Step 2 — Elevate Off
Actively press your ft into the ground, attempting to get your heels flat on the bottom. This creates rigidity all through your decrease physique. Take a deep breath and maintain it whereas lifting the bar off the rack by straightening your arms. The bar must be lined up above your shoulders with each arms locked out.
Kind Tip: Keep away from “pushing” the bar upward out of the hooks as you could protract (unfold) your shoulder blades, placing the shoulder joints right into a weaker place.. The bar must be set at a top that retains your arms solely barely bent earlier than unracking. If in case you have longer arms, use a high rack place. If in case you have shorter arms, use a decrease rack place.
Step 3 — Descend With Management
With the barbell starting straight over your shoulders, break on the elbows and decrease the bar in direction of your mid-chest. Tuck your elbows barely in direction of your ft. Preserve your forearms vertical, and don’t allow them to collapse in direction of your head or ft as you proceed to carry your breath on the backside. Contact the bar to the identical level in your chest on each rep.
Kind Tip: The barbell ought to transfer down and barely away out of your shoulder degree. Don’t try to decrease the bar in a straight line to your higher chest. Doing so will increase joint pressure and reduces energy output. Consider performing a really slight arc.
Step 4 — Press to Lockout
As soon as the barbell touches your chest, pause very briefly after which aggressively drive it again to the beginning place. Launch your breath as you press up. The barbell ought to transfer up and again in direction of your head. Your shoulders, elbows, and wrists ought to find yourself in vertical alignment, or “stacked”, when the rep is full.
Kind Tip: When urgent up, hold your butt involved with the bench. Drive into the ground together with your ft. This engagement out of your decrease physique muscle tissues will aid you to drive the load up, which is critical to maneuver heavier masses.
The bench press is a standard train in most gyms, however it’s additionally frequent to see a number of recurring method errors. Listed here are the commonest points to keep away from as a way to get higher outcomes extra effectively.
No Higher Again Tightness
Higher again tightness is essential for a protected and efficient bench press. For this reason it’s vital to keep up retracted scapulae (shoulder blades) all through all the set. Emphasize constant higher again tightness to raised serve your shoulder well being and to create extra stability when lifting.
By retracting the scapulae, you activate the various muscle tissues of the higher again just like the traps, rear delts, and rhomboids. These muscle tissues work with the chest and triceps to decrease the bar below management and transition easily and powerfully into the press.
Keep away from it: Ensure you are adequately activating your scapulae by “puffing your chest up” previous to gripping the bar. This can be a very distinct cue to get your chest, shoulders, and higher again into a correct place.
No Leg Drive
Many individuals incorrectly suppose that performing the bench press with their ankles crossed and their ft up within the air will present some form of additional benefit. It doesn’t. Selecting up your ft results in a lower in stability, which hinders your capability to elevate heavier weights.
This lack of stability additionally will increase your danger of damage as a result of the load is solely supported by the shoulder joints and higher again muscle tissues, fairly than being distributed all through all the physique from head to toe.
Keep away from it: To maximise your stability, set your ft nearer below your hips, fairly than unfold farther away in entrance of you. It is best to be capable to preserve regular foot strain into the ground. This added strain will assist switch drive from the ground up and into the bar whenever you drive by way of your legs.
Driving your ft into the ground additionally will increase total stability, very like how a desk with 4 legs on the bottom is extra steady than a desk with solely three legs on the bottom.
Having a agency grip and powerful wrists is one other neglected element of the bench press. Many lifters are likely to neglect “stacking” their wrists.
As an alternative, they permit their arms to bend backwards and palms to face the ceiling. This knuckles-back place creates an unstable wrist place and a weaker grip.
Keep away from it: It could really feel awkward at first, correct positioning typically does, however vertically stacking your joints below the bar will create a stronger total place to elevate from. Attempt to “press” your thumb again into the bar, fairly than solely holding the bar with 4 fingers. This extra focus will drive you to take a really agency grip and drive your wrist right into a stacked, impartial place with out bending backwards.
The bench press lets you load the higher physique with heavier weights than some other train. This strengthens a number of muscle teams whereas additionally having the very best activation of the chest itself.
Maximizing Chest Energy and Progress
EMG analysis has proven the bench press to be extremely efficient at maximally activating all the chest musculature. (2)(3) This implies the bench press must be a staple in any programming targeted on getting stronger and constructing muscle.
Time Environment friendly
As a result of excessive degree of muscle activation, and the a number of muscle tissues being engaged, the bench press is a clever alternative for any lifter quick on coaching time. If you end up performing restricted workouts per session, then you definitely want a motion that targets a number of muscle tissues without delay. The bench press is among the best higher physique workouts.
The bench press works a number of muscle teams on the higher physique. For this reason it’s a foundational motion for novices to be taught, in addition to a dependable train for knowledgeable lifters trying to maximize power and muscle.
As the principle “chest” muscle, the pectoralis main’s major perform is to adduct the shoulder within the transverse aircraft — carry the elbows in nearer to 1 one other. The pec main has two heads, the sternal (mid and decrease chest) and the clavicular (higher). Each pec heads are lively within the bench press.
The whole shoulder muscle is recruited in the course of the bench press, however the anterior (entrance) head to the deltoid is most prominently recruited in the course of the train. The anterior deltoid’s major perform is to lift your arm up towards your head, as carried out in the course of the bench press movement.
The triceps brachii extends the elbow and takes the arm from a bent to straightened place. That is an important motion in the course of the bench press, particularly in the course of the lockout portion the place the triceps are most concerned.
One of many largest muscle tissues of the again are the lats. They bring about the shoulder joint right into a impartial place. When your shoulder is in a stretched place on the backside of the bench press and your higher arm is “behind” your again”, your lats assist to carry your arms again in keeping with your torso to renew the press.
The muscle tissues of the higher again — the trapezius, rear deltoids, and rhomboids — work collectively to assist shoulder stability in the course of the bench press and to permit a full vary of movement on the shoulder joint, in each the underside and high positions.
The bench press is an train everybody can use. Lifters who wish to get into higher form and maximize their power potential, athletes in search of pace and energy, and aggressive powerlifters who want to maneuver most weight ought to all be coaching the bench press.
Coaching for Energy
Energy is movement-specific. (4) The talent of performing a heavy bench press is constructed by repetition after repetition. Any power athlete, like a aggressive powerlifter, who must get stronger on the bench press must follow the bench press. Prioritizing different workouts is not going to ship the perfect outcomes or construct essentially the most power on this particular motion.
Coaching for Muscle
To extend muscularity, make the bench press a ceaselessly recurring motion in your exercises. The muscle activation, variety of muscle tissues recruited, comparatively lengthy vary of movement, and total muscle-building stimulus present a major and distinctive muscular stress in comparison with different higher physique workouts.
Coaching for Sport
Constructing energy, power, and pace all through all the higher physique shall be a profit to any athlete in almost any sport. The bench press is commonly seen in coaching particularly for sports activities with a excessive degree of physicality similar to soccer or rugby. Rising the pushing energy of the chest, shoulders, and arms carries over to the calls for of the sector.
The barbell bench press might be programmed with quite a lot of set and rep schemes and must be carried out early in a exercise when your physique is minimally fatigued and maximally targeted to reap the entire advantages of this complete motion.
Heavy Weight, Low Repetition
To maximise power, 4 to 6 units within the three to 6 rep vary is an effective place to begin. Use a weight that leaves you with at the least one rep left “within the tank” to keep away from reaching muscular failure. A relaxation interval of three to 5 minutes between every set will make sure you elevate with most effort.
Reasonable Weight, Reasonable Repetition
To construct an even bigger chest, working for three to 4 units within the six to 12 rep vary provides you with a pleasant bump in coaching quantity, which is helpful for constructing muscle. (5) The a number of units and reps additionally can help you develop your bench press method with out extreme fatigue from heavier weights.
Performing the bench press for larger repetitions (12 to twenty, or extra) is extra acceptable for dumbbell or machine variations achieved later within the exercise. This lets you maximize the muscle-recruitment and heavier loading advantages of the usual barbell bench press when you’re contemporary initially of your coaching.
Reasonable Weight, Low Repetition
To construct explosive energy and pace, use a submaximal weight that may be moved at quick speeds whereas sustaining that pace throughout every rep of every set. A primary method is to work for six to eight units of two to 5 reps, utilizing a weight that doesn’t push you near muscular failure. If you wish to transfer like an athlete or practice for sport, this methodology must be a staple.
Whether or not you might be simply getting began in your lifting journey or have joint points that stop barbell coaching, you possibly can nonetheless deal with efficient bench press progressions and variations. These will can help you practice the muscle tissues related to the motion safely and progressively.
Body weight Push-up
Begin from the bottom up, figuratively and actually, with a elementary body weight train that can be utilized every day. Carry out full push-ups in your arms and toes, retaining a straight line all through your whole physique.
If wanted, you can also make the motion even simpler by beginning in your knees as a substitute of your toes. You can too carry out elevated push-ups, by pacing your arms on a bench or plyo field.
Resistance Band Push-up
A resistance band is not going to solely enhance the problem to your chest, shoulders, and triceps however may also create a excessive degree of higher pec activation.
The band will add resistance all through all the vary of movement, growing depth because it stretches. Within the high place, the band in below most stretch and is offering essentially the most resistance. Within the backside place, the band is simply barely stretched and presents slight resistance. This is called “accommodating resistance” which maximizes stress on the muscle tissues and minimizes pressure on the joints.
Add much more resistance to the essential push-up by carrying a weighted vest, a loaded backpack, or just balancing a weight plate in your mid- to decrease again. The important thing with this train is sustaining a managed tempo all through every rep.
Urgent and decreasing slowly is not going to solely guarantee the load stays in place, however can be a way to extend the general time below rigidity, which makes the motion much more difficult.
Machine Chest Press
Utilizing one among your health club’s chest press machines will problem your muscle tissues similar to a bench press since it is possible for you to so as to add a higher quantity of load.
Be sure to make use of a pronated (palms down) grip so to finest mimic the grip used within the bench press and recruit muscle tissues in an identical manner.
Whereas the bench press is a elementary train with many advantages, some associated workouts can ship distinctive extra advantages whereas supporting the muscle tissues concerned within the bench press and complementing power improvement.
The ground press is precisely because it sounds — performing the bench press on the ground and not using a bench. This generally is a useful gizmo that creates a partial vary of movement, since you possibly can solely take your elbows to the ground. This makes it very best for lifters who expertise shoulder ache within the lowest vary of movement of the bench press, when the bar touches the chest.
Specializing in the higher half of the vary of movement additionally emphasizes triceps recruitment as a result of the triceps are considerably recruited in that portion of the motion. This makes the ground press an efficient alternative for lifters needing to enhance lockout power within the full bench press.
The pin press is one other partial vary of movement motion, particularly used to help with lockout power within the high place. Some lifters can load up as a lot as 10-30% of the load usually lifted on the complete bench press.
The pin press can be an efficient strength-building software since you come to an entire lifeless cease with out on the backside, resting on the pins as a substitute of supporting the load together with your muscle tissues or joints. This avoids including further strain on the backside of the usual bench press.
Smith Machine Bench Press
The Smith machine is sort of equivalent to performing a barbell bench press. One of many greatest variations is that, because of the design of the machine and the restricted recruitment of stabilizing muscle tissues, the load used within the Smith machine is not going to straight carryover to the load used with a barbell.
Nonetheless, the Smith machine generally is a useful gizmo when you have any minor joint pains which may be aggravated when performing the free weight model, for the reason that bar path is ready in place, which permits a smoother transition of the motion.
What ought to I do if I really feel ache in my shoulders in the course of the bench press?
In the beginning, you will need to handle any joint ache with a medical skilled and, at the least briefly, cease performing the bench press till you may have an correct analysis.
This doesn’t imply the bench press is “unhealthy” for you. Usually, shoulder ache could possibly be resulting from a breakdown in method, incorrect arrange, scapular instability, extreme load, or extreme quantity.
Reviewing every of these parameters is crucial to catching any issues earlier than they change into larger points. Specializing in the ground press as a substitute of the barbell flat bench press may be useful.
What number of bench press variations ought to I carry out in a exercise?
Newbie lifters growing their base of power and muscle can profit from focusing solely on the traditional barbell bench press with none related actions. It recruits a large variety of physique components and places them below vital muscular stress. The main target and vitality spent engaged on this huge elevate can pay dividends.
Skilled lifters coaching for muscular dimension could profit from an total program that includes extra selection, whereas retaining the bench press as a part of this system. Definitely, any lifter targeted on growing bench press power ought to hold the train extremely featured of their exercise.
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- Schick EE, Coburn JW, Brown LE, et al. A comparability of muscle activation between a Smith machine and free weight bench press. J power Cond Res. 2010;24(3):779-784. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181cc2237.
- Alberton CL, Lima CS, Moraes AC De. RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN WORKLOAD AND NEUROMUSCULAR ACTIVITY IN THE BENCH PRESS EXERCISE. 2013;17(1):1-6.
- Wilson GJ, Elliott BC, Kerr GK. Bar path profile traits for maximal and submaximal masses within the bench press. Worldwide Journal of Sport Biomechanics; 5: 390-402. 1989
- Schoenfeld BJ, Contreras B, Krieger J, et al. Resistance Coaching Quantity Enhances Muscle Hypertrophy however Not Energy in Educated Males. Med Sci Sports activities Exerc. 2019;51(1):94-103. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000001764
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