The bench press is probably the most popular exercise in gyms throughout the world.
No matter if you are into fitness competitions or you workout just recreationally, this is probably the first workout you performed when you came to the gym.
The bench press can be called the king of exercises for the upper part of the body because it affects a large number of muscles such as m. pectoralis, m. deltoideus, m. triceps brahii, m. latissimus dorsi.
However, even with a huge interest in this exercise, there are still just a few people that do it safely and correctly. We prepared 10 tips for you to help you improve your bench press.
1. Feet Must Be Firmly On The Ground
This advice may seem a bit unneeded, but if you observe people as they do this exercise, you will notice that many barely keep their feet on the ground. This is counterproductive, especially when you are lifting heavy weights.
The best you can do is to position your feet firmly on the ground while you’re still sitting and do not move them. That way, you will be able to use the strength of your legs to help you with lifting when the bar gets into a critical position.
2.Press Your Body To The Weight Bench
The reason for this is the same as with the feet. Almost everyone that exercises do entirely the opposite of what they are supposed to do. They lay on the bench loosely and then wiggle left and right when the weight is already in their hands and goes down on their chest.
What you need to do is to tense the entire body, starting with your legs and glutes up to your back and shoulders, and remain in this position firmly stuck to the bench during the whole set of repetitions.
3. Use Secure Grip
The secure grip is when you wrap the thumb around the bar, and it is opposite your other fingers. Many people think they will lift more if they hold the bar with all fingers on one side (the hand is not fully closed).
This kind of a grip can lead to many serious injuries of the chest and head considering that the bar can easily slip out of your hand. You should never hold the bar that way if you are a beginner or if you are working out alone.
The secure grip offers you much better control over the weight, especially in high-intensity series, when the weight is constantly trying to slide towards the belly.
4. The Wrists Must Be Firm And Straight
A very common mistake that beginners make is bending the wrists. This is a mistake you will want to avoid. If you are keeping the wrists firm and straight you will have the ideal transfer of force from the muscles to the weight and you will avoid any injuries of sensitive tendons in the wrist.
5. Forearms Must Be Vertical At All Times
The width of the grip in the bench press is most commonly the most confusing aspect of this exercise. Since most people are of different height and all have arms of varying lengths, there is no universal grip.
Some people use a very narrow grip and thus engage the shoulders more than pectoralis, while those that want bigger pectoralis use a wider grip. However, there is one method of gripping the weight that is universal for all.
Grip the bar so that your forearms are directly under the wrists during the entire movement and that they remain vertical. This will allow you to use the force of your pectoralis, deltoids, and triceps most effectively.
6. Hold Your Breath During The Lifting
Many personal trainers teach their clients to exhale during the lifting which is all right when it comes to smaller weights and more repetitions. If you are doing max series holding your breath is essential.
When you are holding your breath the diaphragm contracts and you are creating a positive pressure in the chest which results in a stronger contraction and bigger force.
If you exhale the opposite happens and you are getting weaker. So this is what you should do when you start the repetition breath in and hold your breath while you are lifting weight and when you finish you breath out and repeat the cycle.
7. Hold The Bar On Your Chest
If you plan in competing in powerlifting, holding a bar on your chest is in propositions of the competition. But even if you do not plan competing, holding a bar on your chest is a good idea. The pause on the chest doesn’t have to be long; one second is enough.
This kind of lifting will eliminate the ugly habit some people have, and that is to bounce the bar of the chest. Pause on the chest will significantly reduce the elastic property of the muscles, and will put more pressure on muscle fibers.
8. Have Control Ower The Bar
While you are lowering and lifting your weight, you must make sure that the bar always maintains the same trajectory and still touches the chest on the same spot.
Of course, the trajectory of the bar depends on which part of the chest you are targeting with your exercise so it can go to the upper, middle, or lower part of the chest. Make sure to keep forearms vertical during the entire exercise.
9. Push Your Chest Out
When we say push the chest out we don’t mean lift the hips of the bench as many people do. Simply raise the chest up for a few inches. Your chest should be tight as the bar goes downwards. Hold the bar on your chest for a few seconds and then push it up keeping the chest in the same position.
Most of the people do not use their pectoral muscles enough while doing bench press even though they are the biggest and the strongest muscles involved in weight lifting.
Opposite to that most people use triceps and deltoids too much. If you use our advice and push the chest up you will use pectoral muscles more and that will make you stronger.
10. Positive Faze of The Movement Must Be Explosive
Try the following: lower the bar very slowly, keep the weight on the chest and then push up hard. It will take some time for you to master this technique but we guarantee it pays off.
Many people are lifting very slow, almost passive which is all right with smaller weights. But when it comes to bigger weights you have to lift more aggressive or otherwise, you won’t be able to lift it at all.
Try to follow our ten tips and you will be able to lift heavy weights in no time and maintain perfect form.