How To Bench Press; A Beginner's Bench Pressing Guide
The bench press is one of the most popular exercises there is. Check out any small-to-big transformation movie and it usually begins with a scrawny, hopeful kid staring at an empty and intimidating bench press. The bench press is a unique lift because it doesn't only work the chest, but also the other push muscles like the shoulders and triceps. Many lifters aren't aware that while getting stronger at the bench press, and having your chest grow because of it, your shoulders and triceps will grow as well. When Are You Ready To Take On The Bench Press? The first thing you're going to need to do is make sure that you can get the bar up without any additional weight on it. The usual barbell found in most weight rooms will be close to 45 lbs, so first testing out and getting a feel for that weight will help you gauge weather or not you're ready for the bench press. If you're finding the bar too difficult, then it is recommended that you first start with press ups, and then work your way up to the bench press. How To Bench Press Before we talk about improving your form or making adjustments to your movement patterns, we're first going to cover the basics. Lie down on a bench (and make sure your back is flat). Make sure you grab the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. You want your hands to be directly above your elbows when the bar touches your chest to allow for maximum strength generation. Lower the bar down to your chest as you breathe in. Push up and exhale. Make sure you have someone watch you (at first) so you can get learn what it feels like to have the bar travel in the same path each time. Once you can control your bar path at will, you will be able to control which parts of your muscle bear the majority of the burden. Sadly, it can be fairly easy to tear a shoulder muscle if you begin benching too aggressively without utilizing perfect form. Please take the time necessary to master the fundamental form of the bench press before adding weight that is difficult for you to manage. Learning proper form before you go too heavy will minimize the chances of you injuring yourself in the future. It is important to note that there are many variations of the bench press. When first starting out, it may be tempting to jump in and try all of the variations out right away. From incline, to decline, to everything in between, the European Journal of Sports Science has stated that muscle stimulation was greatest when someone was benching from a flat position. But variations do have their place. Once you gain some solid experience with the flat bench, and have developed a strong mind-muscle connection, feel free to safely incorporate variations as necessary. Bench Press Form Tips Get a grip Your hands should be gripping the bar about shoulder-width apart. If your grip is too wide, you risk injuring your shoulders. And if your grip is too narrow, you may injure your elbows. Keep your feet on the floor When benching, you're going to want to press your feet hard into the floor while flexing your quads. Doing so will allow you to create tension throughout your entire body, allowing your muscles to recruit and fire off fibers most effectively. Arch your lower back Maintaining a strong arch in your lower back as you lift the weight off your chest and put it back down is essential in proper bench form. You want to make sure that your glutes stay touching the bench, but that they are flexed enough so that you can use your lower back and abs for leverage, making sure they don't move during the lift. Pulling your shoulders down onto the bench will also create more tension throughout your body, helping you push a little bit harder and lift a little bit more weight during your bench press. Keep your elbows close When benching, you want to make sure you keep your elbows as close to your body as possible. The weight should feel like it's being pushed out from the inside out instead of the outside in. Keeping your elbows properly tucked will also ensure that you hit the correct part of the chest. Be head strong One of the biggest mistakes beginning benchers make is lfiting their head off of the bench when they lift. Not only will lifting your head off the bench set into motion a chain reaction that will make your body slightly more unstable, but you also risk neck injuries from the sudden movement of the head. Keeping your head resting softly on the bench will be your best bet for avoiding neck injures while benching. 7 Exercises To Build Bench Strength Once you've mastered correct form on the bench press, you're going to want to take your bench press journey to the next level by strengthening some of the key supporting muscles that work alongside the chest during the bench press. Strengthening these muscles will allow you to lift with more stability and push more weight. Close-Grip Bench Press Benching with a narrow grip shifts the emphasis to your triceps while safeguarding your shoulders. It’s a good way to work on weaknesses in your regular bench press, or just get a bit more work in on arms day. Grip the bar with your hands roughly shoulder-width apart, then bring it down to your chest, keeping your elbows tucked in to your sides. Pause, then press it back to the starting position. Incline Bench Press Once you've mastered the form of the flat bench, begin working in some incline presses. Bench pressing on an incline shifts the emphasis towards the upper pec as opposed to the lower pec. It is likely that you will not be able to lift as much on the incline bench press as you can during the flat bench press, so adjust your weights accordingly. When the weight comes down, it should touch your chest softly, right above your nipples. Dumbbell Bench Press The main function of the pecs in pressing moves is to bring the arms towards the center of your body. While doing a barbell bench press, that