Working out using the barbell bench press is a very effective form of exercise to provide strength gains in your upper body muscles such as the pectorals, triceps and biceps. Before you begin a workout you must understand the correct form to use otherwise you will be putting yourself at risk of a serious injury.
Firstly, you need to get into the correct position by lying on your back on a bench whilst the barbell is locked in a safe position above your head. Rather than having a perfectly flat back, it should be slightly arched as you lay on the bench. If you lie with a flat back you won’t be in the best position to maximize the results of your workout. Keep your chest out making sure your muscles are in the best position to work at their maximum and keep your shoulders back to increase the weight you can lift as well preventing an injury. For the barbell bench press exercise, your feet should remain on the floor, providing support and stabilizing your body.
It is important to get the correct grip on the bar so you can get the best results out of the exercise. Your arms must be extended overhead in a shoulder width position. If your forearms and upper arms form a right angle when you bring the bar to your chest, you have the correct technique. If your arms are to narrow on the bar you will be working your arms a lot more than your chest and if your grip is too wide, your back will get more involved in the lifts also decreasing the strength gains in your chest. Before you begin the lifts, check your entire body position. Whilst lying on the bench, the bar should be above your head and neck so that you bring it down to your chest.
Once you are set up in the correct position you can begin the barbell bench press, maintaining the correct technique at all times. To begin with, push the bar up off its support and hold it overhead for a few seconds to get the most out of the muscles involved. Your arms must be kept in the correct position, extended with your elbows locked and keeping them in a straight line to prevent injury risk from swaying backwards or forwards.
Your arms are now supporting the bar above your head and now you start the full exercise by bringing the bar down. Just before you bring the bar to your chest, take a deep breath and hold it in. Rather than simply lowering the bar, you should see it as though you are pulling it down to your chest with your pectorals with your core and upper back muscles providing support. Also, your elbows should be kept into your body. As you bring the bar down to your chest ensure you continue to look up and never remove your focus from the ceiling above you. Keep looking straight ahead above you in order to maintain the correct form as it will keep your head your neck and your back aligned. If you move from this position you will be putting yourself in serious injury danger during the bench press exercise.
Bring the bar down to you so it touches your chest. You should bring the bar to a slow stop so that it simply touches your chest and doesn’t bounce off it and then hold the bar their for a short second. You should pause with the bar here for long at all, but you must make sure your technique is correct at this point. The barbell should not be brought down in a straight line but at a slight angle. With your arms extended above your upper chest area, you should pull it down to the lower part of your chest around nipple level.
Keep your forearms in the correct position in relation to both the floor and the bar. From side on, your forearms should be nicely perpendicular to the floor as well as being perpendicular to the bar from the front. Making sure you get this position correct is important as you will be in the optimum position to utilize all your energy to push the bar back up. It is also important to keep your elbows tucked in close to your body in order to get the most out of your chest and reduce the risk of injuring your shoulders.
Now you can push the bar back up using all the stored energy you have from your correct technique. You should look to push the bar up using your pectorals. As you are looking at achieving big strength gains in your chest, you should not rely on using your arms to push the bar back up, instead try and use your pectorals contraction to push the bar back up. With your forearms, try and squeeze the bar as much as possible which may seem strange at first but it can really help generate power in your reps.
As with bringing it down, you are looking to return the bar in a straight but slightly diagonal line. You are pushing the bar back to where it came from which is not directly above where you are moving it up from. Therefore you need to push it up with a slightly diagonal incline but push the weight in a straight line. You took a deep breath before bringing the bar down, and now take a deep breath out. It is mainly down to personal preference as to when you want to breathe out in this phase.
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