THE BENCH PRESS…
The pinacle in every training programme, you can sum this lift up in one day MONDAY!
So what makes this such an attractive exercise and how useful is it?
Well, the bench press is an upper body strength training exercise and consists of pressing a weight upwards from a supine position (lying down facing up). You use a fair few muscles, the pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, serratus anterior, coracobrachialis, scapulae fixers, trapezii, and the triceps (Chest, arms, shoulders).
Most people will either use a barbell or dumbbell for this lift, but when talking of compound movements the barbell is the given choice.
You may have heard people ask “How much can you bench?” Fairly universal question in any gym, many use it as a sign of pure strength and manliness. But really there is far too much emphasis on this lift and the weights being lifted.
It’s great to have a big bench. if you want to be big then you need to be big all over and therefore this is or a variation will be vital. However……
Is there any benefit to benching double your bodyweight or more when you can’t Squat or deadlift? Built like a brick sh*t house may look good but if your foundation is some chicken legs it’s going to look stoopid. It’s great to have a big chest, but if you can’t run for 5 minutes then perhaps it’s time to change your focus!
This is still one of the most important exercises that you can perform though. By including this exercise you use so many muscles. if done correctly and sensibly you will build a strong chest, shoulders, triceps, forearms, lats, hips, core and more! Include this with the Squat and deadlfit and you’ve got a cracking recipe for a great looking and strong body.
The only thing is so many people do it wrong, over use it to the point of neglecting the other lifts. If you want to get stronger at pushing things it can be great, but this isn’t really going to help you that much in every day life and doesn’t transfer greatly to sport. It helps you move a weight in one plane of motion from point A to B, great for bench press competittions though!
Often the military press will offer greater benefits with less problems (it’s harder to ego lift on military press also).
If you are new to training and focusing on this movement a lot, i ask you one question. How many push ups can you do?
If the answer is not too many, maybe try controlling your own body before a heavy weight. This will help develop strength, stability and give your tendons and ligaments a chance to adapt before trying to hoist weights your not ready for. it will also strengthen that base for greater gains later.
With all the compound lifts, there is no rush. take your time. Learnt he technique. Build up over time and you will get stronger fitter, bigger and better at them. Only fools rush in after all.
So your ready for the bench press. Let’s make sure your doing it right. (it is unique to every individual but here are osme guidlines!)
HOW TO BENCH PRESS
Lie on the bench (kind of a given)
Posistion yourself with your eyes under the bar and keep your feet flat on the floor. (people bring their feet up on the bench, this can fit some folk better but start off from the floor!).
Grab the bar with hands at an equal distance, around shoulder width, or slightly greater than shoulder width apart. (Your hands will be above your elbows).
Keep a full grip with the bar on the base of your palms and straight wrists.
Inhale and brace your core, squeezing tightly to create tension in your hands, arms, shoulders, back, chest and even your glutes (helps keep you stable)
Now pull your shoulder blades back and down into the bench, unrack the bar and move directly over your chest without losing tension, now start to lower the bar towards the middle of your chest.
Row the weight down until it reaches your chest, then press with everything you’ve got! Drive the bar back to that starting position but do not lock out your elbows.
Pause, Reset and Repeat. keep doing this until you finish your set!
WHERE YOU COULD BE GOING WRONG
Not keeping it tight. If you lose tightness of your body you will lose power. Even if you can still manage it and the weight is low, keep tight and stay strict with form. By keeping it consistent it will become second nature.
Hips and Ass rising. If you bring your hips and ass off the bench you are squirming your way to injury. Your foundation crumples and it will lead to injury or failure.
Bouncing the bar – you are not an inflattable, so don’t bounce use your chest to bounce the bar! Lower the bar under control, lightly touch your chest then press back to the start.
Not lowering far enough – No half reps, use full range of motion with every rep.
Flaring Your Elbows – The exact angle to use will depend on the length of your arms and your general build, however do not flare out to 90°! This means your upper-arms will be perpendicular to your torso and forces the bar to move in a vertical line to your neck, this will impinge your shoulders.
Using the Smith machine – It might seem safer, but if you can’t control the bar, stick to push ups or dumbbells. If need use a spotter but don’t pound the smith thinking it the safer option. It moves in a vertical line and can cause impingement problems in your shoulder if your angle isn’t precise. Going heavy will result in an ineffective press and your stablising muscles will not achieve the benefits that free weights provide (the point in using these exercises!).
Going to max without safety! – Trying for a max lift? Use a spotter! It is dangerous to do so without and can be embarrassing when folk have to run out and save you from under the bar. If you don’t want a person to spot you, at least use safety racks.
So use these tips or don’t, but be safe and bench strong!
LIFT, LIVE LEARN.