I know what you’re thinking, are we really going to talk about bench press. I mean it’s easy enough right. You lay down, head underneath the bar. Place your grip just outside you shoulder on the bar. Push up to remove from the bench rack, then lower to the chest then push it back up. Congratulation, you have just completed a bench press repetition. That should be it right?
No, I wish it was, but the craziness starts as soon as you come in the gym. First your so pumped on pre-workout, you’re ready to lift the world. Your idea of a warm-up is running on the treadmill, riding a bike or hitting the elliptical for 5 to 10 min. Then you pick a bench that’s not occupied, rake 135lbs (bar plus two 45 lbs. plates) do a couple of sets of 5-10 reps to get the juices moving.
Then the madness happens. You load the bar to 315lbs (bar and six 45lb plates) ask for a spot. You make you grip either inside of your shoulder or wide enough to do wide arm push-ups. You get a lift off the barley lower the bar, raise it an inch and down about 4 repetitions of that then rake the weight back. You look around to see how many people watched lift, take a sip of your water and commence to text, take a selfie, or whatever else for the next 5 min before your next set.
I hope this person is you, because I want to help you get the gains you so richly deserve.
Here’s what you should happen….
- Warm-up correctly. There is more to warming up then just running in the treadmill. You must activate the muscle in the area your going to work. A technique I use with my client is to first have them elevate their heart rate, by either doing burpees, jumping jacks or jump rope. We then either do Cuban press, or band work to activate the shoulder where the rotation for the bench press happens. Doing a few sets of bench prior to your lifting is okay, but can neglect key area that if not warmed up properly could result in an injury.
- Where should your grip be? Understand we are talking about regular bench press. Your grip should be just outside of your shoulder. Having you grip to close can cause unneeded strain on your rotator or pressure on your collar bone. Having your grip just outside of your shoulder allows for maximum activation of the pectoris.
- Next, how far do you go down? Rule of thumb for complete activation is to start with arms completely extended, then lower weight till it touches your chest. Mind you I am not saying you should slam the weight against your chest, but rather with control touch your chest. There are times when short incomplete movements are okay. These movements are called oscillation. The purpose of these movements is to tire or exhaust the muscle. These types of movement are better done when you are in your maximal strength phase as you will have already established a base. This technique should only be executed for no more than two weeks at any given time due in large part because of its limiting factor on overall development and lessen movement patterns. It is always wiser to go full range of motion. If you are not periodizing (we will talk about this next time) and or actively tracking your workouts over a developed plan, you could be haphazardly implementing a technique that could be sabotaging your gains, not helping them.
- Hey I skipped a step. If you do what’s called a special warm-up (that’s when you do an exercise with less weight than you plan to lift first to warm-up, then add the goal weight for the desired reps range for the actual exercise). Rule of thumb don’t expect to jump from 135 to 315 if you haven’t already set your base from previous workout sand the next 10 lbs. increase brought you to 315. In other words, if last week you did 4×10 of 225, don’t think you can just go 4×5 of 315 the next week or for some, later that week. You must program your workout so your gains move in a logical manner, not crazy jumps of 20lbs or 60 lbs. I know its hard, but you’ll thank me later.
- Additional tidbits you might want to know. Ensure you keep your feet on the ground this will give you a stronger base during your lift. Tuck you shoulder on the decent as this will also reduce possible shoulder injury. Never allow you back to arch, if you can’t maintain form the weight it too heavy. Don’t be a hard head, reduce the weight. Get stronger in that space then gradually increase no more than 5 to 10 lbs. a week.
I could keep talking about the different variation and their significant, but would rather wait till next time. I will say I can’t stress this enough you go to the gym for yourself, not for the admiration of other. To be successful you must first be safe, and pride will get in the way of being safe. Dump pride out before you walk in to the gym. It will still be there waiting on you when you get done.
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