Man lifting weights

Movement Monday – Bench Press


It feels like you can’t have a movement Monday without the bench press, after all they don’t call it international chest day on Monday in the commercial gyms for no reason ūüėČ The bench press is one of the biggest lifts for the upper due to the muscles you recruit and the amount of load you can typically lift when performing it. While the bench press often wins the popularity contest its also one of those lifts often performed incorrectly leading to poor movement mechanics of the shoulder region and average results with regards to chest development. Keep reading to help fine tune your bench press and maximise your success in the gym;

Bench Press Benefits

The obvious reason people perform the bench press is due to the amount of load (weight) you can create through the pectoral muscle remembering that growth comes from progressive overload. The only issue is that many inexperienced lifters due to poor mobility and stability around shoulder joint end up with inflammation of the rotator cuff or worse a full blown injury like a tear. To avoid this we recommend the cue ‘breaking the bar’ which means to drive your shoulder blades back and down to create a stable position for the shoulder. When doing this you will end with a slight arch of the mid back which is perfectly normal creating stability and helping you get a greater eccentric stretch / load through the pectoral muscle.

How To Bench Press

Step 1: Start by getting a strong stable positioning on the bench,eyes under the bar. Have your feet placed into the floor somewhere between your glutes and your knees in order to create stability.

Step 2: Keeping the scapula back (towards the bench) and down (towards your glutes), thumbs around the bar lift the bar of the rack.

Step 3: Keeping your lats engaged by utilising the cue ‘breaking the bar’ take a big breath in and then begin to move towards the mid area of your chest. Tip: more mobility, the lower to the chest you can go. We always recommend bout a fist length from the chest.

Step 4: Maintaining torque into the floor with your legs and breaking the bar push the bar up until arms are again lengthened and above your eye line. Repeat

Main Muscles Recruited During Bench Press

  • Pectoralis Major (prime mover)
  • Anterior deltoid
  • Triceps
  • Anterior Core, Gluteal muscles, and Lats (stabilising)

Bench Press Variations

There are a number of ways you can vary your bench press the obvious way is by changing the bench you use (shown below) which changes where in the chest your predominantly target. The other way is small changes like using bands or chains to create more concentric load, to hang weights of the side to create greater strength demands on the stabilising muscles, or to use fat grips.

  • Incline bench
  • Flat Bench
  • Decline Bench

Yours In Health & Fitness

Chris Dawson

Authentic Health Coach

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