The bench press is the reigning king of higher physique barbell workouts for a lot of lifters. Even non-lifters are acquainted with muscular athletes demonstrating their energy performing a bench press. It’s nearly universally acknowledged as the method to construct your chest, shoulders, and triceps.
As a result of you’ve 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 energy and muscle mass. The larger your bench, the larger your higher physique.
Right here’s all the pieces that you must learn about performing the bench press to construct a bigger, stronger, extra muscular chest.
The bench press is a foundational train, helpful for practically each lifter within the health club. Whereas some lifters over-focus on the train or misuse it, probably resulting in harm, it will possibly play a key position in constructing muscle and energy for rookies in addition to skilled lifters.
Studying correct strategies is important for maximizing advantages and minimizing harm danger. the steps beneath can be your greatest place to begin.
Step 1 — Preliminary Setup
Lie flat on the bench together with your head beneath the bar. Put your toes up on the bench, seize the bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip, and squeeze your shoulder blades collectively. Place your toes on the bottom together with your knees bent. Shifting your heels in the direction of the bench will enable extra decrease physique pressure and pressure manufacturing.
Really feel a powerful connection to the bench by way of your total physique. Preserve your shoulder blades in a retracted place. Squeeze the bar with each fingers to make sure tightness.
Kind Tip: Your grip width can play a job in concentrating on or emphasizing sure muscle groups in the course of the bench press. A wider grip will goal the sternal head (interior portion) of the pecs and anterior delts (entrance shoulder) extra, whereas a better 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 modifications in your grip as you turn out to be extra skilled.
Step 2 — Elevate Off
Actively press your toes into the ground, making an attempt to get your heels flat on the bottom. This creates pressure 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. When you have longer arms, use a high rack place. When you have shorter arms, use a decrease rack place.
Step 3 — Descend With Management
With the barbell starting instantly over your shoulders, break on the elbows and decrease the bar in the direction of your mid-chest. Tuck your elbows barely in the direction of your toes. Preserve your forearms vertical, and don’t allow them to collapse in the direction of your head or toes 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 and 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 the 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 toes. This engagement out of your decrease physique muscle groups will assist you to drive the burden up, which is important to maneuver heavier hundreds.
The bench press is a standard train in most gyms, but it surely’s additionally frequent to see a number of recurring method errors. Listed here are the most typical points to keep away from with a purpose to get higher outcomes extra effectively.
No Higher Again Tightness
Higher again tightness is essential for a protected and efficient bench press. Because of this it’s essential to take care of retracted scapulae (shoulder blades) all through the complete 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 groups of the higher again just like the traps, rear delts, and rhomboids. These muscle groups 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 toes up within the air will present some form of additional advantage. It doesn’t. Selecting up your toes results in a lower in stability, which hinders your potential to elevate heavier weights.
This lack of stability additionally will increase your danger of harm as a result of the burden is solely supported by the shoulder joints and higher again muscle groups, reasonably than being distributed all through the complete physique from head to toe.
Keep away from it: To maximise your stability, set your toes nearer below your hips, reasonably than unfold farther away in entrance of you. You need to be capable of keep regular foot stress into the ground. This added stress will assist switch pressure from the ground up and into the bar whenever you drive by way of your legs.
Driving your toes 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 missed element of the bench press. Many lifters are inclined to neglect “stacking” their wrists.
As an alternative, they permit their fingers 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 usually 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, reasonably than solely holding the bar with 4 fingers. This extra focus will pressure you to take a really agency grip and pressure your wrist right into a stacked, impartial place with out bending backwards.
The bench press means that you can load the higher physique with heavier weights than another train. This strengthens a number of muscle teams whereas additionally having the very best activation of the chest itself.
Maximizing Chest Energy and Development
EMG analysis has proven the bench press to be extremely efficient at maximally activating the complete chest musculature. (2)(3) This implies the bench press must be a staple in any programming centered on getting stronger and constructing muscle.
Time Environment friendly
As a result of excessive degree of muscle activation, and the a number of muscle groups being engaged, the bench press is a smart alternative for any lifter quick on coaching time. If you end up performing restricted workouts per session, then you definately want a motion that targets a number of muscle groups without delay. The bench press is likely one of the best higher physique workouts.
The bench press works a number of muscle teams on the higher physique. Because of this it’s a foundational motion for rookies to be taught, in addition to a dependable train for skilled lifters seeking to maximize energy and muscle.
As the primary “chest” muscle, the pectoralis main’s main operate 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.
Your complete 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 main operate is to boost 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 a necessary 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 groups 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 consistent with your torso to renew the press.
The muscle groups of the higher again — the trapezius, rear deltoids, and rhomboids — work collectively to help 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 energy potential, athletes searching for 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 ability of performing a heavy bench press is constructed by repetition after repetition. Any energy athlete, like a aggressive powerlifter, who must get stronger on the bench press must observe the bench press. Prioritizing different workouts won’t ship one of the best outcomes or construct probably the most energy 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 groups recruited, comparatively lengthy vary of movement, and total muscle-building stimulus present a big and distinctive muscular stress in comparison with different higher physique workouts.
Coaching for Sport
Constructing energy, energy, and pace all through the complete higher physique can be a profit to any athlete in practically any sport. The bench press is commonly seen in coaching particularly for sports activities with a excessive degree of physicality equivalent 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 could 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 centered to reap the entire advantages of this complete motion.
Heavy Weight, Low Repetition
To maximise energy, 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.
Average Weight, Average Repetition
To construct an even bigger chest, working for three to 4 units within the six to 12 rep vary gives you a pleasant bump in coaching quantity, which is useful for constructing muscle. (5) The a number of units and reps additionally permit you to develop your bench press method with out extreme fatigue from heavier weights.
Performing the bench press for increased 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 find yourself recent firstly of your coaching.
Average 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 fundamental strategy 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 prepare 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’ll be able to nonetheless concentrate on efficient bench press progressions and variations. These will permit you to prepare the muscle groups 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 fingers and toes, protecting a straight line all through your total physique.
If wanted, you can also make the motion even simpler by beginning in your knees as a substitute of your toes. You may also carry out elevated push-ups, by pacing your fingers on a bench or plyo field.
Resistance Band Push-up
A resistance band won’t solely improve the problem to your chest, shoulders, and triceps however will even create a excessive degree of higher pec activation.
The band will add resistance all through the complete vary of movement, growing depth because it stretches. Within the high place, the band in below most stretch and is offering probably 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 groups and minimizes pressure on the joints.
Add much more resistance to the fundamental push-up by sporting 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 reducing slowly won’t solely guarantee the burden stays in place, however can be a way to extend the general time below pressure, which makes the motion much more difficult.
Machine Chest Press
Utilizing one in all your health club’s chest press machines will problem your muscle groups similar to a bench press since it is possible for you to so as to add a higher quantity of load.
Ensure that to make use of a pronated (palms down) grip in an effort to greatest mimic the grip used within the bench press and recruit muscle groups in an analogous approach.
Whereas the bench press is a elementary train with many advantages, some associated workouts can ship distinctive extra advantages whereas supporting the muscle groups concerned within the bench press and complementing energy growth.
The ground press is precisely because it sounds — performing the bench press on the ground and not using a bench. This is usually a useful gizmo that creates a partial vary of movement, since you’ll be able to solely take your elbows to the ground. This makes it preferrred 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 energy within the full bench press.
The pin press is one other partial vary of movement motion, particularly used to help with lockout energy within the high place. Some lifters can load up as a lot as 10-30% of the burden usually lifted on the complete bench press.
The pin press can be an efficient strength-building device since you come to a whole useless cease with out on the backside, resting on the pins as a substitute of supporting the burden together with your muscle groups or joints. This avoids including further stress on the backside of the usual bench press.
Smith Machine Bench Press
The Smith machine is sort of an identical to performing a barbell bench press. One of many greatest variations is that, as a result of design of the machine and the restricted recruitment of stabilizing muscle groups, the burden used within the Smith machine won’t instantly carryover to the burden used with a barbell.
Nonetheless, the Smith machine is usually a great tool when you’ve got any minor joint pains that could 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?
Firstly, it is very important tackle any joint ache with a medical skilled and, at the least quickly, cease performing the bench press till you’ve an correct prognosis.
This doesn’t imply the bench press is “unhealthy” for you. Normally, shoulder ache may very well be because of a breakdown in method, incorrect arrange, scapular instability, extreme load, or extreme quantity.
Reviewing every of these parameters is important to catching any issues earlier than they turn out to be larger points. Specializing in the ground press as a substitute of the barbell flat bench press may be helpful.
What number of bench press variations ought to I carry out in a exercise?
Newbie lifters growing their base of energy 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 focus and power spent engaged on this large elevate pays dividends.
Skilled lifters coaching for muscular measurement might profit from an total program that includes extra selection, whereas protecting the bench press as a part of this system. Actually, any lifter centered on growing bench press energy 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 energy 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 hundreds 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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