Breaking Down the Bench Press

The bench press is one of the most popular exercises to gym bros around the world. To most guys, the amount of weight you bench press is directly correlated to how manly you are. Although the bench press is important, it is definitely not the most important exercise when it comes to evaluating someone's total body strength. In my opinion, I'd have to say it's the deadlift. There's already an article on it that I will link down below. Anyways, back to bench pressing. In today's article I will be discussing some key tips to safely performing the bench press while also teaching you guys how to effectively press the most weight.

Let's start with the warmup. Prior to touching the bar, I always tell people to warm up their upper back and rear delts. I do this by doing a couple light sets of face pulls just to get some blood in my rear delts and traps and get those muscles firing. The reason you want your upper back and rear delts warmed up is because they provide the base for when you're going to be bench pressing. You also will be retracting your shoulder blades back when you bench press, so you want your back muscles to be fully activated. That is why it's as important to warm up the posterior muscles. Just because you can't see them when you look at the mirror, doesn't mean you should ignore them. Once your upper back is warm, I then recommend doing one to two sets of 10 reps on pushups to get the chest, triceps and shoulders working. Only after this whole routine I start warming up on the actual bench press.

When it comes to the setup, you want to grip the bar hard as this will allow you to produce more force. Keep your wrists straight and do not have them bend backwards. If you have trouble doing this, I recommend buying some wrist wraps. To find the optimal hand placement, I recommend finding the width that allows for a 90 degree angle to be formed between your bicep and forearm. This allows for maximal recruitment of your chest and triceps. With time you can inch inwards or outwards depending on what feels stronger for you. It's highly individual. Now that you're gripping the bar tightly and found your grip width, put your feet on the pad and hip bridge upwards so that your feet and upper back are only in contact with the pad. Make sure to retract your shoulder blades when your back is in contact with the pad. The reason for bridging up is to help produce an arch. On a side note, arching on the bench press actually helps recruit more pec fibers due to the angle at which the muscle inserts. Along with that, arching protects you from shoulder, pec and rotator cuff injuries. Now, one at a time place each foot on the ground, while maintaining tightness and the arch you made. Make sure your back and butt are in contact with the pad and take a deep breath into your chest and lower the bar onto the bottom of your chest. While doing this, make sure to keep your shoulder blades retracted and also tuck your elbows at around a 35 to 45 degree angle to protect your rotator cuffs. While the bar is descending, make sure to isometrically contact your quads, hamstrings and glutes as they will play a major part in the concentric portion of lift. When it comes to the press, drive your feet into the ground so that you have a strong and stable surface to press off of and press upwards. Make sure your butt stays in contact with the pad while doing this.

Doing all of this steps will help you be as efficient and force producing as possible on the bench press. Yes, it is a lot and it takes a long time to master. I haven't even mastered the form yet and I've been bench pressing for over 5 years now. There is always room for improvement. When it comes to frequency, I recommend bench pressing at least twice a week. The first day being higher reps for muscular hypertrophy and the second day being heavier weights and lower reps so that your CNS can adapt to heavier loads. I might make a video on this for you guys to help you visualize all the things I said in this article. I hope you guys implement these tips on your next chest day and feel the difference. Stay strong my friends!

Deadlift article:

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