Completing the Bench Press*

Monday, 16 April 2018, By James Selke

TECHNIQUE IN EXERCISE

BENCH PRESS

TARGETED MUSCLES:

MUSCLE

FUNCTION

Pectoralis major

Abduction of the Humerus (pushing the upper arm)

Anterior deltoids

Horizontal adduction of the Shoulder Joint

Triceps

Extension of the Elbow Joint

 

WHY BENCH PRESS?

The bench press is easily one of the most functional compound lifts you can do when wanting to increase upper body muscle size, strength and endurance. As it is such a major exercise for your body to complete, you need to execute it with proper technique and posture in order to avoid any possible serious injuries.

SQUARING UP THE MOVEMENT

Through daily activities and many various lifestyles, our body adapts and can sometimes go out of alignment. This is natural as we all sleep, walk, sit, stand a certain way. Which in turn places more importance on completing the bench press correctly as we don't want to exacerbate those postural incorrections.

Here are some steps that I have found helpful when attempting the bench press:

THE SET UP

  • Line yourself up on the bench by making sure that the bar is just above your chin-line as it sits in the rack
  • Before lifting the bar off the rack, make sure that your feet are flat and firmly placed on the floor. This will allow you to engage your stabilisers and core muscles more effectively - use a bench/platform placed under your feet if you cannot reach the floor without arching your lower back.
  • Bring your shoulders up towards your ears, back into the bench and then down towards your ribs (setting up your scapula). This sets the correct position for the bar to be pushed directly to the ceiling in alignment with your nipple-line.
  • Pull your belly button into your spine by switching on your core muscles. This prevents any pressure going through your lower back and also keeps you firmly pressed against the bench - there should be a natural curve in your lower back, and that's all.

 

 

THE MOVEMENT

  • Place your hands on the bar without locking out your elbow joint completely (this is the angle you want your elbow joint to be at when finishing the movement) and then un-rack it.
  • Keeping that same angle at your elbows, line the bar up over your nipples (this is the spot you want the bar to return to when completing the repetitions)
  • While taking a big breath in and without arching your lower back, slowly guide the bar in a downwards direction towards your nipple-line.
  • You have reached the bottom of the movement when the bar is 3 - 4cms away from the nipples.
  • Holding your chest proud and core tight - allowing no exacerbated curve in the lower back, blow out the air as you start the upwards (concentric) phase of the movement
  • Return the bar to the starting position without the elbows locking out

 

SPECIFIC VARIATIONS:

The reason that you want to start with the standard bench press technique from above is because it focusses most of the emphasis on your chest (pectoralis major) allowing for the most muscle growth and strength gains to occur. Once you have this down-pat, then you can add in some variations to your chest workouts. These variations include:

  1. Flat Dumbbell Bench Press
  2. Incline Barbell Bench Press
  3. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

 

 

 

*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.

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