9 Bench Press Tips & Tricks
Bench press is one of the most classic staples in the gym. The bench press is a “test of time” type of exercise and is typically beneficial to improving chest strength. Unfortunately, the bench press is a strength training exercise that is performed incorrectly more often than not. Let’s change that, shall we?
The Best Bench Press Tips
Walk into the gym and regardless of size, location or clientele, you’ll find a bench posiionted somewhere and someone probably waiting to snag it next. The basic movement pattern helps with three major muscle groups: the chest, front shoulders, and triceps. If you are new to the gym or lifting weights or simply just need a refresher, here are some of the top tips to take on the bench press in the best way.
Before getting underneath the bar or attempting to toss on some weight, it is good to have an understanding of the bench press and what you are working with. The Olympic barbell weighs 20kg or about 45 lbs. Regardless of training background, it is important to note the weight of the bar before placing weighted plates. Get yourself acclimated to the differences in weight, your starting point and where it is you want to go. When setting a goal, place value on the why piece? Be familiar with the proper form, what feels most comfortable and getting a spotter if needed.
Bench Press Basics:
-Lie flat on your back on the bench
-Grip the bar with hands just a little bit wider than shoulder-width apart
-Bring bar slowly down to chest as you breathe in
-Push up as you breathe out
-Focus on a spot on the ceiling
Once familiarizing yourself with the bench press, take note of the different points of contact. Feet should stay on the ground beneath / behind knees. Press feet into the floor to create tension within the hamstring and glutes. When feet are firmly planted on the ground, you can typically lift more weight. The head, shoulders and hips should remain on the bench throughout the entire lift. Thinking of pushing shoulders into the bench to create a firm foundation. The major takeaway: safety should always be a priority and never compromise form for weight. Period.
The Ultimate Setup
Eyes should be directly under the barbell. If the wrists are higher than arms when locked out overhead, this is when you know they are too high. Come back down. As always, keep hands just a tad wider apart than shoulders. When learning the proper form and the ultimate set up, remember that it is a skill that entails a lot of practice. Learn and try again - rinse and repeat.
Un-Rack & Re-Rack
When new to the bench press or as weight begins to up, it is SO SO crucial to use a spotter. This is for mental and physical support. If you don’t have one, stop well before your body may start to get too tired to avoid SERIOUS injury. To un-rack the bar, start with a strong lock-out with the bar directly about the shoulders. With a slow and controlled movement, lower the bar right up to the chest. To re-rack, press elbows straight and have the bar in control. Make sure the bar is secure before releasing the tension in the arms.
It is rather negligent to begin bench pressing without a proper warm up. The risk for injury goes up substantially. Start off with cranking out 10 reps with just the bar. Take a one minute rest and proceed into 5 reps with 50% of your desired weight and increase up to 90% while lowering the number of reps until you begin your first working set.
Progressive overload is a beautiful form of training that increases the demand on muscles so they will grow. Progressive overload isn’t just about increasing resistance or weight, but also the reps / training frequency. It is all about challenging the muscles. For example, after two weeks of dedicated bench press sessions, it may be time to add x amount of weight and push a couple more reps out.
Arch Lower Back
To maintain a strong foundation, give a strong arch in the lower back when lifting and lowering the weight. It provides the optimum ability to squeeze shoulder blades together, shortens the distance of travel for the bar and creates a more full-body tension to better activate quads, glutes, shoulders and core muscles.
Keep Elbows Close
Think of keeping those elbows tight and close to the body. Press back up powerfully and always remind yourself to keep the elbows in.
Grab Foam Roller
Lie on a foam roller so it’s running down your spine. Focus on pinching the foam roller with your shoulder blades. This should almost feel like you’re trying to grip the foam roller with your back - odd feeling, but accurate. Take some dumbbells (not nearly as heavy as usual) and do a few sets of five reps. This will help to cue your shoulders into the right position.
The bench press is not the end-all be-all of a workout routine. In order to gain strength, there are multiple ways and factors that go into it. The bench press is a solid compound movement that involves other muscle groups and when you develop those muscles, strength continues to increase.
Try Out Bench Presses at The BXNG Club!
The bench press isn’t going anywhere. Take the time to research, learn, learn, and learn. Seek advice from a qualified fitness professional from The BXNG Club and keep getting better!
September 01, 2021