The bench press – the pinnacle of all chest exercises, perhaps of all exercises. It’s the ultimate test of strength and the one gym statistic that might be overly meaningful to some who like to boast personal achievements. In my opinion, I think the bench press is a great exercise, but I don’t like to waste time getting caught up in bragging to people about the amount of weight I can press. It’s just another solid exercise that I have seen results from.
However, this might be the one exercise that is most prone to injury and where a lot of mistakes seem to occur more frequently than others. I’ve seen so many different variations of people benching that I have to cringe sometimes while I watch people because it’s blatantly incorrect and I don’t like to see people hurt themselves. Here’s a few tips to help you bench press better. I encourage you to try these out the next time you hit the bench hard.
1. It’s All Mental
Before you approach the bench, try to take a few minutes and visualize how much weight you can do. Be realistic about the number and go for it. Try to think about previous attempts and your maximum. Challenge yourself to exceed it – even if it’s just one rep.
2. Know Your Limits
If you’re like me – you most likely workout by yourself. Don’t over do it where your muscles just collapse and the bar falls flat on your chest. Nobody likes to be seen doing the infamous “bar roll of shame” where you roll it down your torso onto your legs to remove it. If you insist of going all out, do yourself a favor and ask someone to spot you.
3. Straighten Out The Wrists
Admittedly – this was one of my worst mistakes ever and I’m not alone. When you grip the bar, the wrists must be straight the entire time! Sometimes I’d have them bent a little bit and my form would be incorrect. Don’t this – make sure your wrists are straight for the entire range of motion.
4. Feet On The Ground
Another very common mistake. Please, keep your feet firmly on the ground. Your feet deserve to be on the ground to create a foundation to draw energy from. Don’t try to combo 60 leg raises while doing 8 reps. It’s very ineffective. Think about it this way, you’re on the bench to workout your chest! Do something else if you want to work out your abs.
5. Bring The Bar to Your Nipples
For the longest time, I never did this. For some reason, I thought it was more “effective” if you brought the bar down to your upper chest area. Boy – I couldn’t have been more wrong! This explains why I’d get some pains and cracking from my right shoulder because I was applying so much pressure on it instead of my chest. Big mistake! By doing this you are diverting the pressure and causing strain on your shoulders. You don’t want to tear your rotator cuff and I’m very lucky I didn’t.
6. It’s A FLAT Bench Press – Stop Arching!
When you first get on the bench and lay down, do not arch your back! It’s a FLAT bench press for a reason – your back needs to be flat, parallel and against the bench. This is another invitation to injure yourself and you only look like a clown doing it.
Got any other tips? Leave them in the comment box below!