7+1 Mistakes You Should NOT Make While Bench Pressing
Bench press is one of the most popular exercises. Full stop. So, this is the exercise that is done wrong the most often, in all possible ways. If you are lucky, these forms are “only” ineffective. But if you are less lucky, you can even get injured. Now we have picked a few of these mistakes for you.
Some of them might be familiar, while others might make you facepalm, too! Even more experienced bodybuilders, who are aware of all potential mistakes, may fall for some of them every now and then. You cannot concentrate on this 24/7 after all, can you?
Shrugs? Not now!
Always make sure your shoulders are not moving towards your head. In other words: do not shrug. Doing so, you would take the load off your chest and exclude your back as well (believe it or not, you need it for presses). Plus, it entails a risk of injury. Make sure during the whole move that your shoulders are not moving towards your head. As you are pushing your shoulders downwards, that will arch your back a bit. But this is not a problem as long as you keep your butt and shoulder blades down on the bench.
There is an eternal debate going on whether you should put your feet on the bench. We do not recommend it, unless you have lower back problems. The heavier the weight, the more important it is to take up a stable position. And you can provide this stability with your feet. Pull your feet back to the point when your heels start to lift from the ground, but not any further (we are not talking about the powerlifting press). Now that you reached this position, force your soles to the ground: you’ll see, you will get pretty “arched” between the bar and the bench. So, those who put their feet on the bench either go to the gym just to rest or they are injured. But in the latter case, they should not use heavy weights anyway, so it is alright for them.
Both a grip too wide and one too narrow will reduce the efficiency of the exercise. In the proper position the forearms should be perpendicular to the ground. Ask a buddy to check the position of your arms from above. If your grip is too narrow, the triceps will get more load. If it is too wide, that will limit the motion range, which is not desirable if you want to grow muscles.
It is a shame that we still need to talk about this. But you can still see many guys bouncing the bar on their chests to gain some momentum for pushing out heavier weights. First, this entails a huge risk of injury. And second, it makes right the most difficult part of the press easier. Always be controlled in the negative phase. You don’t need to be extra slow (unless you prefer this technique), but you should control your movement all along.
Wrists bent backwards
If only I had a dime for each time I have seen that! If your wrists are bent backwards while pressing, you will not only lose a great proportion of power but you can also take future wrist issues for granted. Your wrists should always be in line with the bar. Don’t worry, you won’t drop it, unless you are pressing with overhand grip, which is also common in the gym, even though it is not recommended because it is less secure this way).
Don’t lock out
I mean your elbows, not yourself, out of the locker room. What does this mean? This means, you should not lock your elbows out in the top position. First, this will make the exercise less effective because, in this position, you will take the load off your pectorals. And second, since the load you took off your pecs will be shifted to your joints, it is also dangerous and joint-wrecking. (I know a famous bodybuilder who typically used to press like that; then, he went to the hospital for a tennis elbow surgery.) Stop the bar in the top position, before you would lock out your elbows; never stretch them out 100%.
We put it last because partial repetitions can be good or bad as well. Those who only use them just to use heavier weights (by not lowering the bar down to their chests, for example) are deadly wrong (except for special powerlifting techniques with planks etc.; but these are for developing pressing power, not the pectorals). On the other hand, partial reps are allowed if you use them to provide even more load for your pecs.
For example, when you do not press the weight fully but work in a motion range that is somewhat larger than half-reps but shorter than full reps. Doing so, you can keep your pecs under constant load, which doesn’t happen when pressing the weight fully, because in that case, your muscles will rest for a sec in the top position.
In most of the cases, the reason of the above mistakes is using too much weight. Bench press is the most commonly used method to put one’s strength to the test. No wonder that you might easily fall victim to your ego if you are not extra cautious during workout. For this reason, you should always make sure that you use just as much weight that enables you to perform the presses with a perfect technique and without mistakes.
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