Bench Press Tips

How much do you bench? It’s such a meat-head “bro” question, but we all kind of secretly love it. For many wanting to lose weight and add muscle, hitting a certain personal record on a lift can be a great motivator and something else to focus on other than weight on the scale. So here are my biggest tips for the barbell bench press.

1. Don’t flare your elbows out, keep them tighter to your body. This is a shoulder-saver. Shoulder impingement is quite common and we can greatly reduce the risk by pressing in this manner.

2. Drive your feet into the ground. There is no reason to have your feet up or on the bench. Don’t copy the monkeys you see in the gym. You should be driving with your legs. Driving through the floor with your feet creates tension and will allow you to lift heavier. The bench press should be a full body lift.

3. Push yourself away from the bar. This is a mental trick, but try not to just push the bar up, also push against it and away from it. You’ll feel the rest of your body become engaged.

4. Pull the weight down. Use your back and your lats for stabilization. Retract your shoulder blades before you lower the weight – this gets you primed for your press. Retracting your shoulder blades is much easier when you have a lift-off from a spotter. So keep that in mind when you go heavy.

5. Squeeze your glutes. Your butt and upper back should be connected to the bench. It’s okay to have your lower back off the bench as long as you are connected with your shoulder blades, glutes, with feet on the ground.

6. Don’t BOUNCE the weight off your chest, but aim for a full range of motion and lower the bar to actually touch your chest with a slight pause.

7. Strengthen your back and shoulders. Because the bench press is a full body exercise you are going to want to strengthen other areas independent of your chest muscles. The stronger your back is, the better stabilization and wider base you have on the bench. Work on dumbbell and barbell shoulder presses to hit your shoulders and do at least as many sets of pulling exercises as pressing exercises.

Be safe. Be prepared and always use a spot when you think you might need one, and sometimes even when you think you don’t.

Lift strong my friends!

Certified Personal Trainer

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