A bench press is a great compound exercise that allows you to build the muscles in your chest, core, and arms. If you want to bulk up then it is one of the key exercises you are going to have to get to grips with.
However, it is important that youeff get your form right and that you perform this exercise safely. We are going to help you learn how to do that today.
What Is A Bench Press?
A bench press is primarily a chest-building exercise that involves lying on your back and pushing a barbell away from your chest and into the air.
The action of pushing the weight away from your body activates your pectorals and other muscles in your upper body. If you are looking for a balanced upper body then you should include bench presses in your regular workouts.
You will see the best results with a bench press when you progressively overload.
What Muscles Do Bench Presses Work?
Bench presses are known for their ability to build chest muscles at home or at the gym - but the movement is not isolated.
A bench press is a compound exercise that uses multiple different muscle groups. You will see a benefit in the whole of your upper body when you do bench presses.
Your pectorals (colloquially known as the Pecs) are the main muscles that are worked out by the bench press.
Your pectorals are the power behind the pushing and pulling motion that is used in the exercise.
Biceps And Triceps
While doing this exercise your pectorals are being supported by your arms - most notably by your biceps and triceps.
Your arms are helping to keep the weight above you balanced and they are responsible for helping your body to fully extend.
As it does in most exercises, your core helps to keep you balanced while you are doing bench presses.
Upper Back And Shoulders
Your upper back and shoulders are also providing support to your pectorals while doing a bench press.
Like the arms, they are responsible for keeping you balanced when the weight is above your head and when your pectorals are growing tired.
Bench Press - Bad Form
Here are 3 things that all beginners should avoid when learning how to bench press.
- Not using your thumb to grip - this can make lifting the weight above your head more dangerous. Your thumb is the main point of stability in your grip.
- Not setting your shoulders - you do not want your shoulders to move while you bench press. So you need them to be pinched together and pulled downwards before you start to lift.
- Not lifting light enough - lifting too heavy can be really dangerous because you can get trapped while doing a bench press. When you start to bench press you should test your limits while you have someone to spot you.
It is also important to remember that bench pressing too much may cause serious injuries as it does not allow the involved muscles enough time to repair themselves. Check this article to find out how often you should bench press.
Bench Press - Good Form And Tips
We have learned that it can be very dangerous to get your bench press form wrong. So, now we are going to take a look at the correct form for this move.
Choose a weight that you can lift safely.
Then lie flat on your back. Pinch your shoulders together and draw them down your back. This will make your chest puff out a little bit.
Bring the barbell onto your chest and grip it with both hands. You should have your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width and your wrists should be directly above your elbows.
Take a breath in and then push the bar upwards on your next exhale. You should do this slowly. You should be aware of your elbows as you lift, make sure that they do not turn outwards or buckle as you push.
When you reach the apex of the lift, start to slowly bring the bar back down towards you. You should also be doing this move slowly.
Gently place the bar on your chest or in the barbell holder.
Tense your core when you are lifting, this will give you extra stability.
Keep your shoulders still while you are lifting, this will force your pectorals to do most of the work.
If you feel like your arms or chest muscles are failing then you should stop doing the lift immediately.
Keep your feet on the floor.
Tense your abs instead of arching your back if you have lower back pain.
Bench Press - Related Exercises
You may struggle to do a bench press when you first start - many of us do not use our chest muscles regularly, so this can be a weak spot for us. But depending on the muscle group that you want to work on, you can try adding these highly effective bench press alternatives to your workout routine to help you achieve your gym goals.
Here are some other exercises that you can do for the development of your chest and other upper body muscles.
Pushups are a compound bodyweight exercise that is almost the reverse of a bench press.
They work the same muscles, however, when doing a pushup you are pushing your body rather than a barbell.
Lat Pull Downs
Lat Pull Downs require a cable machine and work the upper back, arms, and chest muscles. They also work the core as it provides stability while the weights move around.
Pull-ups require a similar set of moves to the bench press. Instead of using a barbell, pull-ups are a compound bodyweight exercise and require a pull-up bar.
A good bench press is a smooth movement where you are lifting a safe amount of weight. Your pectorals, arms, and shoulders are working together to move the weight and they are all being supported by your core.
Your shoulders should not move during this movement, this will put more pressure on your pectorals and make them work harder.
Your core should be tensed to prevent a lower back injury and you should be gripping the bar just wider than shoulder-width.