How to do the bench press properly
Gym exercises are not uncommon to most of us when we talk of “working out”. While exercising has become commonplace, it is very important we understand that it is one thing to engage in a workout yet another to have a set goal for the bench press. Clarity of purpose will guide you in adopting the right and proper technique for a particular gym exercise. The bench press is one very popular powerlifting exercise but many of us still don’t know the very important techniques for achieving mastery. Let us look more into the bench press as one of the gym exercises while exploring the best and proper techniques for and during each rep.
What is the bench press?
Before we start, it is ideal and important that the subject “bench press” is properly understood. To the regular gym rats, it is a familiar phrase, but to the others who are either making their first visit to the gym or those who don’t consider working out as an option, it remains either strange or unclear. The Bench press is one exercise that tests and trains your strength. To perform this lift when at the gym or at home, you assume a lying position with your back on a horizontal bench while facing up. Your torso is accommodated properly on the bench with your lower limbs giving extra ground support. While in this lying position, with both arms, you lower a weight to the level of the chest and gradually push it back up till your arms become straightened and the elbows locked assuming a locked position.You will repeat this as far as your strength can withstand. But, it is also important to understand that endurance is vital in achieving your goal.
It won’t be surprising if, at this point, you become curious about the aim of this exercise. Simple! The Bench press engages the pectoralis major muscles, that is, the muscles of the chest, the pectoral girdle and limbs. The exercise develops these muscles as well as other supporting muscles such as the anterior deltoids, that is, the front shoulders, coracobrachialis, serratus anterior and importantly, the triceps brachii and the latissimus dorsi, which are on your back. While we observe these body parts, we can easily deduce that the bench press generally develops upper body strength. Feeling sceptical already? Don’t worry! It’s really an easy procedure to undergo. Let’s have a look:
Doing it right
Do you really want to do the bench press right to achieve the best result? It is the time that you cherish every moment you spend in the gym. You just have to follow these proven and simple steps. They are not entirely different, rather adjustments and little more added procedure. Interestingly, you don’t need any special or sophisticated equipment to adopt these tips. It is just a question of how open and willing you are to learn. Let us kick off with looking at each of these tips in the various steps of the bench press:
Hand spacing: Don’t be surprised that the success at bench pressing, achieving good results, begins with overlooked basics, like hand spacing when you are about to grip of the bar. Good hand spacing ensures the muscles are stressed and triggered in position for building power and mass. Now that you know why this is important adopt the following steps;
- While resting your back on the bench, place your hands. Adjust your grip properly while taking note of its position relative to the smooth rings on the bar
- Unrack the bar as you usually would.
- Lower the bar to your chest while maintaining the position of your arms
- Again, your forearms should as straight as possible. This is important for optimal power.
You simply do this to lock your shoulders into position for maximum strength and stability. How? Follow these steps:
- Place your palms on the bar
- With the firm grip on the bar, twist or rotate it so that the bar is directly above your palms
- While you do this, lift your torso a bit off the bench while forcing your shoulder blades together
Lowering the bar:
It doesn’t just end with lowering the bar. You also have to stretch the torso muscles. To do this;
Tighten your torso muscles while you take the bar off the rack and lower the bar down to the bottom of your breastbone
Breathe in while you tighten your chest muscles getting ready to lower the weight
Touch the weight lightly on your chest and avoid quick bouncing the weight off your chest as it may result in injury
Drive with the legs
It may appear a little difficult to coordinate the arms move with the legs. This is why you have to begin with an empty bar and move to a loaded bar. As strange as it may appear, this particular technique remains hidden from most instructors. It really steps up your torso power. You can try the following;
- While still in the lying position on the bench and knee at about 80 degrees position, lower the empty bar to your chest with a firm grip
- Push the bar back up while pushing your legs like you want to slide your torso up the bench without lifting up your back from the bench
Raising the bar
While completing the lift by raising the bar, it is also important you observe the following tips;
- Breathe out forcefully
- While you struggle with lifting the weight, keep your feet firm on the floor.
- While raising the bar, you should try forming a slight arc as you press upward
- Squeeze the bar for the last inches to get an additional boost
Having learnt all of these techniques, I guess it’s time to give it a shot. Always remember that endurance is also important. If you really are out for your torso development then this is just for you. Enjoy!
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