How to Bench Press: Top 5 Tips
The bench press for most people is the 'go to' lift when they think about the gym. One of the big three lifts! People either ask how much do you bench, squat or deadlift. So making sure you know how to bench press is crucial! The major upper body 'push' movement that will help get you stronger in the gym, on the sporting field and also help get a nice big chest.
Purpose of the movement:
The bench press being the major upper body 'push' lift, the key is to lower the bar to the chest/sternum and then press/push the bar to return to start position. There are lots of different variations to the bench press that can alter with the incline/decline of the bench, equipment used - barbell/dumbbell and then also the grip used on the equipment. At the end of the day though all the variations are working the same muscle groups just at different proportions.
The bench press being the major exercise for developing the chest has a high recruitment of the following muscles:
- Pectoralis major
- Triceps Brachii
- Anterior Deltoid
Many other minor muscles play a role in the stabilisation of the bar throughout the movement, and this increased even more when using dumbbells.
For the Barbell flat bench press following equipment needed:
- Either a rack or a bench press
It can also be performed using dumbbells, on an incline/decline bench or even just use the floor.
Step by Step guide:
This guide will go through how to perform the barbell flat bench press
Starting with just the bar, determine the grip position first, using the smooth rings on an olympic bar as a guide. When the bar is lowered to your chest your forearms should still remain vertical and slightly internal rotated. For most lifters it is approximately having your ring finger on the smooth ring on the bar.
Although the bench press is a 'chest' exercise the leg drive is a crucial element and if you want to press big numbers you must get this part right! Two options - either legs in close to the bench with toes on the ground and heels raised, or legs wide feet flat on the ground. With either method you still want your feet being close to under your hips.
Locking on to the bench:
Once you have the grip and foot position right now we need to put everything together and lock on to the bench. This is where you want to pull your shoulder blades back and down, getting the lats firing.
Putting it all together:
- Foot position
- Ready to unrack the bar - before you unrack the weight you should be lying under the bar and if the bar were to fall off the rack it would hit you in the eyes.
- Lock shoulders back and then unrack the weight
- Nice and tight through or torso with a big chest and torso slightly off the bench.
- Lower the weight down to the chest, in line with your nipples.
- Now timing is the key to get the weight back up
- As the weight touches your chest you want to initiate the leg drive - drive through your feet back towards your head. At the same time pressing the weight up.
- Don't lift your hips off the bench (humping the air) - leg drive initiated too early
Top 5 Tips:
- Get the grip sorted from the start!
- Sort out your foot position early
- Lock yourself on to the bench once the bar is unracked
- Don't touch the weight on your chest too lightly, don't be scared to let it sink in to the chest a bit and make the most of the stretch reflex!
- Drive hard through your feet just as you start to initiate to press of the weight back to the top position.
Master the bench press by following this guide and you will be pressing some big numbers in the gym! Make sure you get the timing of it all right as this is the biggest factor for producing the big numbers!
Also play around with the different variations of the bench press, they will all help contribute to your strength in the barbell flat bench press.
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