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Become a master of bench press

Bench press is the G.O.A.T of gym exercises. It's the go to question when talking about the gym, "how much do you bench?". Not only is it one of the most enjoyable exercises but its also one of the most beneficial. Being one of the " big 5 " bench press has a lot of history and holds a lot of competition. This compound lift focuses on your pecs whilst also working the front deltoids and triceps. Bench press is in millions of peoples gym programs across the world yet 90% of these people just arent fulfilling their potential. For such a simple looking movement the bench press has so much to it. The tip that goes for every exercise in the gym, form before weight. Focus on perfecting proper form before you start adding loads of weight. If your form isnt spot on then lower the weight.

The first thing we need to think about with our bench press is our grip. The general rule is that the narrower our grip the more focus switches from our pecs to our triceps. When performing a standard chest focused bench press we have our hands just wider than shoulder width. Research actually shows that the extra width adds 10-15% strength. The grip needs to be an overhand neutral grip with our thumb wrapped around the bar. Now we have our grip we need to think about engaging other muscles. Use your quads to drive your feet into the ground. A lot of the time when watching people bench press you see this over exaggerated arch in their back. That's because the more you arch the lower the distance you have to lift the weight is. This isn't optimal at all, if your lifting for your ego then go ahead. But if you actually want to see muscle growth and strength increase then just think about opening up and extending your chest. This creates a natural arch to reduce chance of injury and improve performance.

I see so many people undo all this preparation when they go to pick up the bar. Tense your core and it will make it easier for you to maintain all the tension around your body. Pull the bar above eye level using your lats. Once you are in this position you are ready to start the descent. A huge misconception is when people think the perfect bench press involves lowering the bar straight down. Studies show you unlock a lot more strength by lowering the bar in a slightly diagonal line towards your lower chest. Lowering the bar too straight can put too much stress on your shoulders. The main difference researchers found when comparing an amateur lifter to a professional lifter was that the professionals bar path was more diagonal. Another technique we need to implement is tucking our elbows at roughly a 45 degree angle. Too far either side of this may put you at risk of injury. When lowering the bar you need to think about pulling the bar down slowly and with control.

Now for the ascent, make sure to give it half a second or so at the lowest point before pushing back up. This avoids any use of momentum and keeps proper control. If you managed to maintain the tension you’re doing well. During this half a second pause you should further engage your quads to really push your feet into the ground, unlocking more power. Remember the bar path came diagonally on the way down so we have to reverse this movement on the way up. I want you to think about pulling your biceps together when you’re pushing the bar up. As with all exercises consistency is key, allow a few days recovery and then go again. Always looking to progressively overload. I usually tell my clients that as soon as you can perform 3 sets of 8 reps at a weight with correct form then move up 2.5kg. For full form analysis,advice and access to my full exercise library check out my 24/7 assistance plan. or if a full training program, nutritional guidance, weekly check ins and joining a fitness community interest you then go to the services page and find online coaching.


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