Bench press workout is one of the most effective tools to sculpt a bigger chest. But in order to do so, you have to make sure you’re doing it right.
Perhaps nothing is more popular among men than the bench press workout because it helps build muscular size and strength. The exercise targets the chest muscles, formerly called the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor. It’s considered and intermediate exercise and should be practiced by those who have a foundation of strength and knowledge.
The pectoralis major is the larger of the two muscles in the chest. It has two heads known as the sternal head and the clavicular head. The sternal head, commonly referred to as the lower chest, is located near the sternum and is primarily responsible for several movements of the shoulder like extension, internal rotation and adduction.The clavicular head of the pectoralis major, also known as the upper chest, is located near the clavicle. It’s also responsible for various movements of the shoulder like flexion and abduction. The pectoralis minor has three heads that attach to the 3rd through 5th ribs. It’s primarily involved in the movements of the scapula like abduction and depression.
OTHER MUSCLES INVOLVED
Although the bench press primarily targets the sternal head of the pectoralis major, there are several other muscles involved in performing this exercise. The clavicular head of the pectoralis major, the triceps brachii, and the anterior deltoid also assist in the exercise movement. The biceps brachii plays a small role as well, by assisting in stabilizing the elbow.
Traditionally, bench press workouts are performed with an Olympic barbell on a bench. However, some exercisers find it difficult at times to balance the 7 foot bar and use preloaded barbells instead. For beginners, it’s recommended that they use a chest press machine when trying to build strength in the chest region. For advanced users, in addition to heavier weight, using an exercise ball instead of a bench can make the exercise more difficult. Some weightlifters use wrist supports and belts to support their joints and lower back when bench pressing heavier weight.
Hand placement is key when performing the bench press. If you place your hands to far apart, well beyond shoulder width, it will compromise the range of motion and limit how much weight you can lift. If you place your hands to close to each other, then you take the emphasis off of the pectoralis major and place it on the triceps brachii. It’s recommended that you place your hands at roughly shoulder width apart to perform the exercise efficiently and get maximum results.
THE BENCH PRESS WORKOUT
Ok so you got this far, you learned all about the anatomy of your chest. Now it’s time to get into the insane bench press workout.
- Lay flat on the bench with your feet placed firmly on the ground.
- Place your hands just outside shoulder width apart and grab the bar with an overhand grip.
- Make sure your thumbs are wrapped around the bar.
- Push the bar off the rack and extend your arms upward. Do not lock out your elbows. Keep your wrists solid at all times.
- Slowly lower the bar down to the middle of your chest until your elbows just slightly go past being even with your shoulders.
- Your wrists and forearms in a straight line with your elbows so that they make a 90 degree angle once you come to your low point with the bar.
- Push the bar back up until your arms are almost fully extended without locking out your elbows. Try to keep your head and back flat on the bench at all times.
- Do not lift up your feet off the ground.
- Perform this exercise for 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps to increase muscular size and strength.
Keeping your head flat at all times when doing a bench press workout will prevent any injuries to your neck. Although some experienced weightlifters arch their backs during the bench press, it’s highly recommended to keep your back flat at all times to prevent any back injuries. Feet must be kept firmly on the ground to maintain a solid base of balance and stability. Do not allow your wrists to curl forward or bend backwards as this could lead to a wrist injury and potentially cause you to drop the barbell. Keep your thumbs wrapped around the bar to prevent the bar from slipping out of your hands. It’s highly recommended not to lower the bar to your chest as this could cause injuries to your shoulders and your sternum especially if you are using heavy weight. Do not bounce the bar off your chest as this could lead to a chest injury and loss of control when performing the exercise. Finally, always maintain a nice smooth motion. Do not rush through the exercise. For beginners and those lifting to failure, it’s highly recommended to have a spotter to assist you in case you are unable to push the bar back up.