When it comes to the gym and exercising, the bench press is one of the most popular and effective exercises you could ever wish for.
Walk into any gym that has a bench and a barbell, or indeed dumbbells for that matter, and you can almost guarantee that there will be somebody using the bench in order to build up their pectoral muscles and build a bigger chest as a result.
Despite the exercise being so popular and effective, you’d be amazed by just how many people actually don’t quite know how to perform this relatively basic exercise with correct form and technique. You may think that you know what you’re doing, but after reading this post, you may very well change your mind. Here are a few tips to help you correctly perform the barbell bench press.
Getting yourself under the bar
Before you perform the lift, you need to ensure that you get yourself positioned correctly, this is for both safety, and performance.
Ensure that you lay flat on your back on the bench, with your feet firmly planted on the floor, as this is a great way of ensuring you stay safe and prevent injury. Line up your eyes so that they’re about level with the bar.
Once you’re happy with your positioning, you should next focus on getting your grip just right.
Now, there are certain factors which must be taken into consideration, such as height, arm length, and reach. Typically speaking however, you should try to grip the bar in a neutral grip, which is around 4 – 6 inches wider than shoulder width. From there, you should grip the bar firmly, ensuring there is no chance of it slipping.
You can however, also use a narrow grip, which is about the same width as your shoulder width, this type of grip is ideal for working your triceps, rather than your chest.
Safety and un-racking
If you intend on benching heavily, or have never benched before, it’s ideal to have a spotter nearby, as they can help you if you encounter any difficulty, and will be there to ensure that you don’t drop the bar on yourself.
A spotter will also help you to un-rack the barbell from the bench, as this is actually difficult for a lot of lifters, as there is simply not much leverage. A spotter will help you un-rack the weight, and will watch to ensure that you’re in control.
Performing the exercise
Once the barbell has been un-racked, it’s now time for you to begin performing the exercise.
Your training routine will determine just how many reps you actually perform. If you’re training heavily, you obviously won’t perform as many reps as if you were training moderately.
Before you lower the bar, ensure that you take a deep breath, and fill your lungs with air. Next, slowly lower the bar down until it lightly grazes the upper middle part of your chest.
NEVER try to bounce the weight off your chest as this is dangerous, and if you do need to bounce the bar to complete a rep, the weight is too heavy, so go lighter! Once the bar has lightly grazed your chest, slowly push it straight back up into the air, until your arms are fully extended. As you push the bar upwards, exhale and ensure to breath in again before lowering the bar for the next rep.
A great tip to help ensure that your body remains still and in control when you perform this exercise, is to choose a spot on the ceiling, and concentrate on staring at it and focusing on it with your eyes.
Look for a mark on the ceiling, or even a light fixture, something for you to focus on so that you don’t move around and lose control whilst you perform the exercise. Basically, you’ll be watching where you want to be pressing the bar to.