Master the Bench Press

The bench press is one of the most common and desired compound exercises in the gym. But most people perform the bench press without using the correct form which leads to less effective results.

Muscles used

There are 3 main muscles used when performing a bench press:

  1. The pecs (Pectoralis Major)
  2. Anterior Deltoids (front of the shoulder)
  3. Triceps (back of arms)

When the bar is at the lowest point (touching the chest) the primary muscle being used is the pecs with the the secondary being the shoulders. As you press upwards the triceps start to activate and shoulder influence decreases. As you begin to lock the arms out this is heavily dominated by the triceps. It is important to recognise when you fail which muscle stops firing first to then identify where you need to strengthen. 

Top tips

RANGE OF MOVEMENT

Lower the barbell all the way down to your chest and lock your arms out at the top.  This is the only way to get a full rep as limited range will fail to efficiently recruit all of your pectoral muscles (and cause less muscle growth)…

…it can also put your shoulders at risk for a rotator cuff injury..

Note: Reduce the weight by 20% while you experiment with any form changes. Lifting with correct form may be harder at first, but you’ll make fast progress once your form is on point.

BAR BOUNCING 

When you bounce the bar off your chest, you’re using momentum to lift the weight. This means that your muscles are actually doing LESS work, and this will also result in less muscle growth and strength development.

Not only this, but if you’re using heavy enough weight it’s actually possible to fracture your sternum or your ribcage if you come down with too much force in the wrong spot.

To fix this, slow down when you’re lowering the weights and imagine touching the bar to your t-shirt rather than your chest (a very slight mindset shift, but it tends to clean this up).