Proper bench press techniques to increase strength and muscle
Today we will discuss the proper barbell bench press technique with different variation in the bench press and which types will help which part of chest muscle to grow.
Hey, everyone, I’m back with another article on the barbell bench press technique. While in my two previous articles I have already discussed the two major lifts deadlifts and squats & their variations.
The bench press is a great way to build your legs, lats, triceps & of course your pectoral muscles.
When you properly take the position for the barbell bench press you will not only grow your pectoral muscles but will also involve your calves, quadriceps & glutes too which will make this exercise more effective.
Doing free barbell bench press is the best way to grow your pectoral muscles.!
If you do them on a smith machine you wouldn’t benefit from the exercise as it won’t involve all the muscles.
It can also cause your pectoral to tear because smith machines move in and only certain vertical path and put’s more stress on your shoulder blades as well as your pectorals.
Doing variations of bench press will develop your whole chest area and will grow in proportion to your whole body.
Average gym goer always focuses on the chest but doing too much frequency for chest can make you crouch forward.
The reason being, doing more benching your pectoral muscles will get tighter and tighter & cause you to bend forward & will rotate your hands inward.
You can test this by trying to rotate your elbows out and try pointing your thumbs perpendicular to your body without going into an anterior pelvic tilt position.
If you cannot do that without you going into an anterior pelvic tilt position then you have tight chest muscles. You can also get tight to your chest area if you sit for quite long in one position and if you lose your posture during sitting.
Start doing static as well as dynamic stretches to loosen up those muscles.
Without wasting any more time let’s jump into the topic:
But let’s understand the anatomy of the pectoral muscles.
The chest muscle is divided into two parts:
- Pectoral major (clavicular)(upper)
- Pectoral major (sternal)(lower)
They both activate at a different angle of pressing. Notice that the both pectoral major (clavicular & sternal) are attached to your front deltoid.
To activate both of pectoral muscles you need to do variations of bench press to grow your whole chest area.
So to develop your upper pectoral muscles you need to do incline bench pressing.
An incline barbell bench press technique:
Incline barbell bench pressing activates more of upper pectoral muscle fibers and to a great degree of your lower pectorals too.
Incline barbell bench press is very important to build a proportional chest. Let’s talk about the technique:
Step 1: Get on the bench that is inclined at most 45 degrees to the ground, get under the barbell & grab the bar just outside your shoulder width after squeezing your shoulder blades together as you do on a shrug.
Step 2: Then dig your shoulder blades that you squeezed into the bench.
Step 3: Make a slight arch of your lower back till the point that you can pass your fingers through.
Step 4: Set your legs pointing your toes outward and keep the foot fully in contact to the ground to utilize the whole leg drive.
Step 5: Now lift the bar squeezing your glutes and quads while keeping your setup as tight as possible by taking in a big breath before you lift the bar.
Step 6: Start lowering the bar down by unlocking your elbows till the bar touches the end of your upper chest muscle.
Remember always to touch the bar to your chest & your elbows should be perpendicular to the floor to generate maximum force.
Step 7: Now start pushing the bar up in a “J” path by squeezing your quads and glutes & keep your back tight till you lock the elbows at the top.
Note: Don’t lose the tightness from your upper back at the lockout as it can compromise your shoulder blades and can cause the pectoral tear.
Step 8: Repeat the whole process till step 7. This will take some time to exactly do all the steps correctly and in a sync.
Incline bench pressing helps to build your flat bench press & will help you to increase your PR’S in the gym.
Now if you want to create overall thick and wide chest then doing flat bench pressing grow it all.
So let’s talk about flat barbell bench press technique:
Flat benching develops both upper and lower pectoral muscles.
The setup on the bench is the same as that for incline benching.
The difference lies in the angle of the bench otherwise when you bring the bar to the chest your elbows should be always perpendicular to the ground as bar touches your chest.
In the Flat bench press, the bar will travel in same “J” path and the bar should touch the end of your lower pectoral or at the beginning of your diaphragm.
Flat benching is a good variation to start with if you are a newbie as you could progress faster.
Reason being you activate higher degree of your upper & lower pectoral which help you to lift more weights.
The third variation that is now getting obsolete is the decline benching which activates lower pectorals.This variation should not be performed routinely as it will build more of lower pecs than upper pecs and will create an imbalance in the chest area.
Decline barbell bench press technique:
Decline barbell bench press has the angle of the bench in the vertically downward direction up to 45 degrees.
Always remember to brace your abdominal wall by taking in a deep breath & pushing that air in all directions of your abdomen.
Here is the video of Dr. Layne Norton, On bench press technique.
He is a powerlifting expert and I personally follow his work.
Dr. Layne Norton – How to do flat barbell bench press.
The only change doing inclined and declined bench pressing changes in the bench angle as discussed.
Problems that you can face while bench pressing:
- Wrist position – A very important note is many lifters lose power & the efficiency as they don’t give attention to their wrist position.Your wrist position determines the amount of load that you can push. If you put your wrist parallel to the ground the bar, the weights will create moment & you will leak energy from your lift not allowing you to use your triceps, back, legs and of course your pectoral muscles efficiently. A simple way is to change the position of your wrist to 90 degrees to the floor. Then rotate your wrist a bit inward to lock them in that position so they remain efficient for the lift.
- Neck position- Another important note is that your neck position should be inline to your body and it should not be in any other direction and keep it tight to avoid any injury.
- Leg drive- Another issue I see is that lifters don’t use leg drive to push that weight up. Using leg drive is critical if you want to lift massive weights and want to build a great chest.
- Lifting using only chest muscles-Don’t just think of lifting weights with your chest muscles & if you do so you will definitely hit the plateau & you might also get injured during the process. So you better use leg drive to lift safely and efficiently.
- Scapula retraction– Always focus on keeping your scapula retracted & dig them into the bench that will help you to be more efficient in the lift. Or you can face shoulder blade tear issues.
That’s it for this article..!!!
I hope you enjoyed it, if you liked it then hit the like button, share the article with the ones you care of and we will meet in the next blog post..!!