The Bench Press is by far the most popular lift ever hence the fact that benching is the poster image for weight training. Any experienced bodybuilder will acknowledge the fact and agree that the squat or the deadlift are the real deal when it comes to weight lifting yet the bench press still holds its own and should be considered a staple in anyone’s training split.
Bench pressing is without a doubt one of the most enjoyable movements to perform in general but also one of the most dangerous if performed incorrectly and that’s why it’s really important to get the basics of this lift in check, this article is in no way a tutorial on how to bench, this is straight to the point advice that can simply and potentially help you increase your strength, enhance your form and most importantly avoid injuries.
Training is without a doubt the most enjoyable part of Bodybuilding if we exclude the post-workout nausea and soreness, in fact, training is so much fun that most of the time we forget or simply just ignore warming up. There are many ways in which warming up can be accomplished, some lifters like to perform one or two light sets before moving on to heavier weights while others prefer warming up with different variations of stretching followed by the light warm up sets.
Just like everything, warm up techniques will vary depending upon the individual; some will naturally need more time to warm up while others will need little to no pre-exhaustion. Learn your body, listen to it and then go ahead and become accustomed to a pre-workout warm up routine for every training session, your joints and muscle fibers will thank you. Keep your warm ups short and don’t overdo them as you don’t want to be exhausted before going into the heavier lifts that will lead to hypertrophy. For Benching it’s important to warm up the elbows, wrists, shoulders, rotator cuffs, triceps and chest.
Keeping the Form in Check
If you do some quick research online you will find that most injuries sustained inside the gym are often caused by squatting, bench pressing or deadlifting, the common denominator that results in jury between these three lifts will always be bad form. You have probably heard this a thousand times but I’m going to say it again, weight is important but form is crucial; performing a bench press with no form is almost as useless as just pressing the bar. Before you get ready to start benching on your next workout consider the following tips as they can possibly help you reduce any sort of pain while enhancing your pectoral development.
The first thing that you need to keep in check regarding form is the full range of motion, while benching the bar must come all the way down to your chest, stop it from bouncing as it touches the pecs and then go all the way back up without locking the elbows. The bar should never bounce off your chest; you need to control the weight on every single part of the movement. Your feet need to be planted on the ground, your core needs to be tight and you need to learn to push with your chest and not your arms. As far as the dreaded back bench arch goes in which people arch their back during the movement, try avoiding it at all costs, if you do this your pectoral development will diminish and your back will be put in a weak and dangerous position, stay away from it.
Applying HIT Principles.
This piece of advice doesn’t just apply to bench pressing; it can translate into each and every one of your lifts if applied correctly. High Intensity Training or HIT is a training method developed by Arthur Jones, the creator of Nautilus, and used by world class bodybuilders like six-time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates and the late Mike Mentzer. This training style is not as popular today as it was years ago due to the shadow that was cast by the typical three set, twelve rep training program. HIT is a handful on its own and in short makes the athlete concentrate on all three portions of the movement; positive, negative and isometric.
Applying HIT to your bench pressing will drastically increase your strength, power and overall development. Each repetition should be done in the following manner: Bring the bar down to your chest slowly, taking between three and four seconds to do it, after this hold and control the barbell with it just barely touching your chest for two seconds, follow this by benching it upwards in an explosive manner and repeat for the remaining repetitions. The key to this type of training is controlling the weight in an elegant and slow manner, eliminating any type of momentum and creating constant tension, by doing this you will activate fast and slow twitch muscle fibers that are unreachable with other types of training. Your strength and power will increase, your chest development will be greatly improved and you will never be able to go back to conventional training.