For most men who begin to work out the attraction lies in showcasing their massive chest and filled out arms in the tight t-shirts. Now, you know why bench press is the staple of any bodybuilding program and every Monday is the chest day, irrespective of the geography of the gym in which you are working out. A research by American Council on Exercise found this exercise to be one of the most effective moves for eliciting a high level of muscle activity in the pectoralis major, making it a more effective targeted chest exercise than incline dumbbell flys or traditional push-ups. But, did you know that the most revered exercise of today was initially scoffed upon in the lifting communities? The standing exercises were the only lifts that were deemed manly, and ‘lesser-men’ indulged in lifting while lying down. The scenario changed when these ‘lesser-men’ began to gain appreciative glances of the opposite sex for their broad-chested body. Soon, others jumped the bench pressing bandwagon. Over the years, bench press has evolved, from floor to bridge and belly toss versions but this workout is not for all and there are many who make mistakes while bench pressing.
HOW TO MASTER THE BASIC BENCH PRESS
The bench press is a compound weight lifting exercise that works out many major muscle groups. This exercise works pectoralis major, as well as supporting chest, arm and shoulder muscles. A barbell is generally used to hold the weight, but a pair of dumbbells can also be used. Follow the following steps to master the basic bench press.
- Prepare yourself for bench press, by lying flat on the bench in a relaxed position. Your lower back should not hit the bench directly and it should not be too curved either. You should have your feet flat on the ground, shoulder-width apart, and your shoulders touching the bench.
- Put your arms straight to either side of you, flex your elbows and bring your hands up to touch the bar. Your hands should be about shoulder-width apart. When you widen the grip, you increase the amount of pectoral muscles involved and when you narrow the grip more triceps are recruited in the bench press.
- Stretch by lifting just the bar weight. Hold the bar in the base of your palm, close to your wrist. Squeeze the bar with your hands inside the ring marks of the bar and vertical forearms at the bottom. Wrap your thumbs around the bar. Lift the bar off the rack and position it directly above the middle of your chest. Inhale as you lower the bar down. Exhale, as you push the bar up, away from your body. Extend your arms to just under full extension. Repeat this for eight repetitions as your first set.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR BENCH PRESS
A bench press is a heavy duty workout. In all likelihood, you are going to feel sore after your session of bench press, as it works out several major muscle groups the day after your lifting session. The primary muscles that are involved are pectoralis major, minor located in the chest. The muscles of the back, arm and the triceps are also highly activated when you bench press. Research studies go on to prove that eccentric muscle contractions cause maximum muscle damage. When you do a bench press the bar is gradually lowered to the chest, resulting an eccentric muscle contraction and a higher degree of DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness).
To avoid muscle soreness, you need to prepare ahead for a heavy-duty session of bench press by warming up with a 5-10 minute jog and a set of lightweight bench repetitions.
THE RIGHT TECHNIQUE FOR BENCH PRESS
The bench press is a strenuous exercise. When not performed correctly, it can wreck your shoulders. Learn the essential tips to perform bench press correctly.
1. Hold the bar in the base of your palm, close to your wrist. Squeeze the bar.
2. Put your hands inside the ring marks of the bar and the vertical forearms at the bottom.
3. Wrap your thumbs around the bar. Do not bench press with a thumbless grip.
4. Your wrists should perform a straight line bar to wrist to elbow. Don’t bench with bent wrists or they will hurt.
5. Your elbows should be about 75-degree at the bottom. They shouldn’t touch your torso or flare out 90-degree.
6. Your forearms should remain vertical to the floor from every angle, from the side as well as the front.
7. Stick your shoulders back on the bench. Do not shrug your shoulders forward at the top. Squeeze your shoulder blades together to increase stability when you bench.
8. Raise your chest to the ceiling. Reach to the bar while you lower it. But keep your butt on the bench.
9. Keep your head neutral. Avoid pushing it into your bench.
10. Maintain the natural arch of your lower back.
11. Keep your butt on the bench. Do not raise it while you are lifting.
12. Keep your breath at the top, hold it on the way down, hold it at the bottom and exhale at the top.
Take time to perfect your technique and give yourself enough time to learn bench press. Learn your individual limitations and weaknesses, for your fitness goals to skyrocket.