The bench press is one of the most popular moves for those looking to build strength and develop their muscles.
It is a very valuable exercise because it works all three essential muscle groups at once the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
Doing this exercise on a regular basis causes these major muscle groups to become stronger which can lead to an overall more toned physique.
For anyone relatively new to working out with weights, following a our defined guide when it comes to form and proper execution is important in order to get the best results from the exercise.
When done correctly, this move can help exponentially increase muscle size as well as ensure maximal safety while using the equipment.
How to Do A Bench Press
The bench press is a versatile compound exercise enjoyed by athletes across many disciplines, from Powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters to bodybuilders.
Each of these athletes will have variations in form and technique according to their particular expertise for example, the range of motion and speed of movement differs between Powerlifting and bodybuilding.
If you want to become a competitive strength athlete, such as a powerlifter, a more specific guide is recommended for optimizing performance; however, if you’re more concerned with improving overall aesthetic or simply getting in better shape, the steps below should provide you with everything you need to start your ideal program.
Step by step instructions to do a proper bench press exercise:
Step 1: Start by lying on the bench with your eyes directly under the bar. Place your feet flat on the floor and make sure that your back is straight and supported against the bench.
Step 2: Grab the bar with a medium grip-width that is comfortable for you, ensuring that your thumbs are wrapped around the bar. Your arms should be at a 90-degree angle to your body when gripping the bar.
Step 3: Once you’re securely holding onto the bar, slowly unrack it from its resting place and bring it up above your chest in one fluid motion. Make sure that this movement is done with control and that you’re keeping your back straight and supported against the bench throughout.
Step 4: Lower the bar down slowly to your mid-chest level, taking a few seconds to reach this point. At this level, make sure your elbows are tucked in close to your body for maximum stability and strength before pressing up again.
Step 5: Pressing up from this mid-chest point, extend your arms and press upward until they are nearly fully straightened out above you while maintaining control of the weight at all times.
Once you reach this point, hold it there for 1–2 seconds before lowering back down again in a controlled manner to complete one full repetition of an ideal Bench Press movement pattern.
Bench Press Benefits
The bench press is an important compound exercise used by many athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike.
It primarily works the pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, and triceps brachii to develop strength as well as promote muscle growth (hypertrophy).
Not only does it help improve physical abilities, the bench press can be carried over into everyday activities that require pushing or carrying.
Additionally, it can be a great way for athletes who focus too much on pulling muscles to restore balance which allows them to perform more effectively and reduce potential risk of injury.
Thus, the bench press proves to be an essential part of any training program.
Common Bench Press Mistakes
To keep your bench press safe and effective, avoid these common mistakes.
Putting the Bar Over Your Mouth or Neck
When lifting weight, it is critical that you have an awareness of your body and the bar’s movement.
While racking or unracking the bar, it is important to keep a high path that does not go over the mouth and neck region.
This will help protect the body from any possible impacts or harm caused by a low motion.
Bear in mind that you should move the weight to and from the rack with your arms in an extended position to further ensure safety.
Incorrect Grip Width
A proper grip on a bar is key to successful weightlifting and preventing injury.
The ideal grip width should ensure the person’s elbows are at least bent at 90 degrees, with forearms perpendicular to the floor.
If the individual takes too wide of a grip, their elbows will be flaring out excessively, risking potential pectoral injuries.
This is why having the right grip is essential for avoiding such issues and enabling safe and effective weight lifting.
Wrong Thumb Position
Incorrect grip on the barbell while bench pressing can be detrimental to your fitness goals, particularly when it comes to the placement of your thumbs.
To ensure a proper and secure hold on the barbell, aim for an over-grip with your thumbs lying across the top of your curled fingers and beneath the bar itself.
Never lock them below your fingers or land them behind the barbell this puts too much strain on your hands and could potentially diminish overall performance.
Elbows Suddenly Locking
The correctness of the grip when doing a bench press is often debated, but it can be generally agreed upon that locking your elbows when completing a rep is acceptable.
A good rule of thumb to follow while performing this exercise is to always be mindful of the pressure on your elbows and wrists, as you don’t want to crank them too hard.
Therefore, ensure you gradually extend your arms instead of pressing out suddenly or explosively in order to avoid injuring yourself.
Pushing Head Into Bench
One of the most important aspects of performing a bench press correctly is to ensure proper form.
When doing so, it is crucial to keep your head flat on the bench and feet flat on the floor for stability.
To help with support, take the time to firm up the neck muscles instead of pushing your head into the bench to increase lift power. With your neck stable, you can successfully and safely perform a bench press with strong technique.
Lifting your Buttocks and Arching the Back
The optimal grip starts by laying flat on the bench with your shoulder blades squeezed forward while glutes (buttocks) remain firmly flat.
Leaning too far back can result in lower back pain, so caution should be taken to ensure that your form remains proper during the entire duration of the press.
Bench Press Safety and Precautions
The bench press is a great exercise if done correctly and within your physical limits. For those with shoulder injuries, however, this exercise should be avoided.
Shoulders pain during the bench press warrants an immediate stoppage of the movement and replacement of any weights on the bar.
Beginners can benefit from warming up with no weights at all to help them get a feel for the bar and proper form.
When it comes time to lift heavier weights, it may be necessary to use a power rack with safety bars set at chest level in order to ensure that the barbell will not cause heavy impact if you are unable to complete your lift.
By following these simple tips, you can increase your workout safety and prevent injuries.
Variations of the Bench Press
Partial Bench Press
Partial Bench Press is an exercise that is great for engaging the chest muscles. It can be modified to be less stressful on the shoulder joint area.
When considering this option, it is important to ensure that the arms never fall below parallel as this places more stress on the shoulder joint than necessary.
This modification also reduces potential risk of injury and still allows for chest muscle engagement.
Partial Bench Press is an ideal movement that can help in strengthening the core and upper body, so long as it is done with proper form.
With varied grips during bench press, you can ensure that all your target muscles are worked efficiently and effectively.
As an experienced user of the bench press, play around with different widths on the barbell to emphasize specific sets of muscles.
For example, a marginally wider grip will attack the pectorals more vigorously while placing the focus on triceps when taken inwards. Variety is key and can lead to more well-rounded results in muscle growth and overall strength.
Incline Bench Press
The incline bench press is an effective exercise for targeting your upper chest muscles. It’s easy to perform with either dumbbells or a barbell, so you can find the method that works best for you.
To start, sit on an incline bench and hold the weight just above your chest. Press it up toward the ceiling and then slowly lower it back down to starting position.
Repeat your reps to get the most out of this exercise and really work those shoulders, chest, and tricep muscles!
Decline Bench Press
A decline bench press is an excellent way for fitness enthusiasts to maximize the development of their pectoralis major.
By declining the angle of the bench, lifters will better target this muscle group, providing a powerful workout that cannot be achieved with a standard flat bench press.
To perform this exercise, begin by lying on your back and positioning yourself onto a decline bench. Make sure to select an appropriate weight before unracking the bar and getting into position.
From there, do controlled reps by lowering the bar until it touches the lower part of your chest while keeping your core engaged the whole time.