The Bench Press is one of the the most popular lifts in the gym. And it’s one of the lifts that people use to judge your overall strength and muscle progress.
In fact, I can remember back in my early days of weight training when I was still in school people used to regularly ask me 2 questions:
1) “How Much Can Ya Bench?”
2) “How long have ya been benching?”
It was as if the bench press was the only exercise anyone ever did. Now the bench press is certainly a good lift, but it’s only a small piece of your whole muscle building program. But non-the-less it’s an exercise that people put a lot of emphasis on.
Every single guy who lifts weights gets a rush of excitement whenever he sets a new personal record in the bench press. For most guys it’s a high that can last for days. You’ll feel on top of the world when your bench is getting stronger, and at the same time you can feel down in the dumps when you are stuck in a bench press plateau.
In this article you’re going to learn some very important technique tips that you can use to maximize your bench press strength by using proper lifting form. Not only will these tips help you bench more weight, but they’ll also reduce your risk of injury as well.
Most novice and intermediate level lifters (and even some advanced lifters) make a few critical mistakes with their bench press form that places the shoulders in a very vunerable position for rotator cuff injuries.
This blog post article will teach you how to Bench Press with proper technique so you can bench more weight without injuring yourself.
Improper Bench Press Technique…
This picture shows improper bench press form. The lifter has his upper arms and elbows are pointed straight out to the sides, almost like a T shape to his torso. This places a lot of excess strain on the rotator cuff and the pec tendon.
You’ll also notice that the barbell is held right over the shoulders, rather than being held over the chest where you want to have the work load placed.
This is a common newbie bench press technique mistake. When people bench high and wide like this there is a greater risk of straining or tearing a muscle in the chest and / or shoulders. Plus it doesn’t direct the workload on the pec muscles themselves, which is the whole point of bench pressing in the first place.
Correct Bench Press Technique…
This picture shows correct bench press form. The lifter has his upper arms and elbows tucked in at a 45 degree angle to his torso. This reduces the shoulder rotation and places less strain on the rotator cuff and the pec tendon.
You’ll also notice that the barbell is brought down to the lower chest. This directs the workload to the thick meaty part of the chest, which is exactly where we want it.
This is the proper way to bench press for generating maximum strength and power in addition to stimulating maximum growth in the pecs.
Proper Body Position For Maximum Power…
Many people do not realize how much strength they lose by making the bar travel further than necessary. The less distance you have to move the weight the stronger you will be. To shorten the distance that you press the bar you need to expand your rib cage and stick your chest out. While at the same time squeezing your shoulder blades back together behind you.
You can even try this now while sitting hear reading this. Just sit up tall in your chair and take a deep breath, expand your rib cage, and stick your chest out as far as you can. If you did this correctly your chest should have expanded by a couple inches or more.
Now keeping this position hold your arms out in front of you as if you were doing a bench press. At the same time squeeze your shoulder blades back together behind you as far as you can. You can even alternate back and forth between holding your arms out in front with your upper body relaxed and then holding your arms out in front with your chest expanded and shoulders pulled back just so you can feel the difference.
There will be at least a few inches of distance in the difference. By expanding your chest you can shave an inch or two off your bench press stroke. And by pulling you shoulder blades back together behind you you’ll reduce the distance by another inch or two. Look at the pictures below and you’ll see the difference. Look how far the elbows are in front of the torso in the first pic compared to the second pic. Yet, the arms are straight and locked out in both pictures.
Just by using the set up as shown in the second picture when you bench press you will be able to lift more weight while at the same time stimulating more muscle growth in your chest. And that’s just one of literally dozens of valuable training tricks that you’ll learn about in the “Blast Your Bench” program. Give this tip a try in your next bench workout and I’m sure you’ll notice the difference in strength and muscle activation immediately!
Putting It All Together…
Give these bench press technique tips a try in your next bench workout. However, just realize that any time you make changes to your lifting technique it usually takes a few workouts to get used to the new form. Chances are you may even notice a drop in your strength while you are adjusting to the groove and position of the different lifting technique. But once you do master the form you’ll feel stronger and lift heavier than you were before.
What I’d suggest you do for your next few bench press workouts is take a light warm up weight and bang out multiple sets of low reps. Shoot for 10 sets of 3 reps. The idea here is to practice the set up and getting the right body position over and over again until it becomes second nature to you.
Don’t worry about repping out to failure or testing your 1 rep max just yet. Focus your efforts on mastering the proper bench press lifting technique. One you have your form down pat the strength gains will follow.
If you’d like to get a complete Mass Building Bench Press Specialization Training System, than I’d highly recommend you check out the “Blast Your Bench” program. This program will show you how to cycle your training with the proper exercises, sets, and reps to maximize your strength and muscle gains quickly.
In addition to that there are specialization training programs for bringing up your max squat and max deadlift as well. So with the “Blast Your Bench” program you’ll get a complete mass and power building training system.
This content was originally published here.