Use the Correct Barbell Bench Press Technique for Maximum Benefit and Safety!
The barbell bench press can be both a strengthening and toning exercise. However, use the correct bench press technique for maximum benefit and reduced risk of injury.
Following the bench press tips below will enhance your routine while avoiding common mistakes that can damage your muscle tissue, joints, tendons and ligaments:
In all muscle building exercise routines, don’t overburden your body by exercising too much or too hard. It’s neither unusual nor unhealthy to experience a short-term “muscle burn,” but don’t stress your body beyond 10 seconds of “burn,” regardless of your current fitness level.
You want to challenge your muscles, not tear them, which is what over-burn, can cause. When bench pressing, always use a spotter, whether you use a machine press or free weights. Machines can lend false confidence. Watch over-balancing the left or right body hemisphere.
Free weights are more dangerous from loss of control or grip, but a free-weight bench press can balance muscle strength and development evenly if properly executed.
Two exercise patterns include slow-lift and speed repetitions or “reps.” Slow lifts are often with heavier weights, and they focus on muscle strength. Don’t use speed repetitions with heavier weights.
Use lighter weights for toning muscles and balanced control. Using heavier weights for speed repetition sets can severely injure muscles, tendons and ligaments before you can react to symptoms. That loss of control can kill if you drop the bar on your chest, neck or head.
How to Bench Press Effectively and Safely
The correct bench press technique is identical for free weights or machine presses. Body position, proper weight ranges and weight control are paramount to proper lifting.
Grip: Grip the bar tightly but comfortably. Maintain complete contact with your fingers wrapped snugly at all times. A firm, confident grip also aids in forearm, upper arm, upper chest and back development.
Chest and lower back: Keep your thoracic region or chest up from the start of a rep to its completion. Keep your lower back down. Too much of an arch can strain muscles and damage your spine. Keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground will aid both back control and reverse thrust on upward movements.
Elbows: Tuck these along your sides. Do not point them outward: You can easily injure yourself. At the lowest point of motion, your elbows should extend to a 45-degree angle from the horizontal body plane.
Control both downward and upward motions: Whether your lifted weight is light or heavy, motion control stimulates muscle strengthening and toning. Never let the bar and weights drop, whether using free weights or a machine press.
Other muscle involvement: Keep your legs, back and abdominal muscles tight during the entire repetition. This additional muscle support enhances control, balance and lifting motions.
Spotter notification: Notify your spotter when you are straining or wish to return the bar to the bench rest position. Self-motivation is great but not at the expense of accidental slippage or muscle failure.
With the correct bench press technique, you can enhance muscle strength of your arms, chest and even shoulders. Never overestimate your ability but optimize safety and control for maximum benefits of this popular exercise.