The right bench press has to be learned. The bench press is probably the most popular upper body exercise. It may even be the most well trained complex basic exercise of all. Hardly any other exercise is so helpful if you want to build muscle mass in your upper body and contribute so much to the desired upper body shape of most men.
However, many exercisers make some critical bench press mistakes. These make this great exercise not as effective as it could be. In the medium to long term, this can even lead to discomfort and injuries. For this reason, there are a few things to watch out for when bench pressing.
With your bench press technique you can now try to pay attention to umpteen different things and your execution will still never be 100% perfect. Probably, when you finally try to learn the bench press correctly, you will even get unnecessarily wrong because you are trying to pay attention to everything at once.
So that you don’t lose yourself unnecessarily in detail, I have summarized the three essential things that you should really pay attention to in this article. If you want to learn the bench press quickly and effectively, you should focus on these first. This will quickly get you to 90% and then you can still consider whether you want to continue working on the remaining 10%.
This article is divided into the following sections:
After reading this, you should know enough about the bench press that you can quickly and effectively incorporate it into your workout. With a focus on the crucial things and a little practice, you will quickly improve your bench press technique.
Why the bench press is the most popular upper body exercise
There are many good reasons that you should include the bench press in your training plan for effective upper body training. In the following I want to briefly bring you closer to what I consider to be the most important arguments.
1) The right bench press strengthens your entire upper body
As mentioned before, the bench press is one of the complex basic exercises. With these exercises you train a large proportion of the muscles in your body. This makes these exercises particularly effective when it comes to increasing your strength and building muscles. Specifically, the bench press primarily involves all of the “push muscles” of the upper body. A large part of the other muscles are supported in some way. This makes the bench press one of the most effective exercises when it comes to strengthening your upper body.
2) Bench press brings you closer to your dream figure
When you bench press properly, you are essentially training the very muscles that make a decisive contribution to shaping the body that most men want. With this exercise you support the goal of strong arms, voluminous chest muscles and broad, round shoulders like no other.
Of course, no matter how many bench backs you do, you should always keep in mind that the duration of muscle building should not be underestimated. Rome was not built within one day either. With a good bench press technique in connection with an overall good, (ideally) individual training plan in your mass phase , you can achieve your muscle building goals a little faster.
The same applies, of course, to the opposite case that you want to define your muscles . Again, doing a regular bench press helps you achieve your target shape and gain muscle mass .
3) Bench press strengthens your bones
Strength training has been shown to strengthen your bones. What may not seem extremely important to you now can be crucial injury prevention for the near and distant future. You can never start enough with that, because more stable bones have never harmed anyone and, especially with increasing age, you will be very grateful for more bone density.
The compression created during strength training through the pressure of the weight being moved stimulates the growth of new bone tissue. They say the best exercise in this regard is the squat . You could say that the bench press in this context is like the squat for the upper body.
4) Bench press is an important strength reference
Which man who does weight training has not been asked the question “What are you pressing?” This mostly refers to the weight the other person is benching. If you want to gain as much weight as possible while bench press, then good technique is important in addition to the targeted build-up of muscles and strength (through structured hypertrophy training and maximum strength training ) . You can only bench press really hard if you can bench press properly. 😉
Which muscles are trained in the bench press
As mentioned earlier, the bench press is a so-called complex basic exercise. This exercise involves using many different muscles. In particular, you challenge and train the following muscle groups:
Essentially, when you bench press, if you do it properly and with concentration, you are training your chest muscles. Your triceps (arm extensors) and the front part of your shoulder muscles are also significantly involved in the movement. Of course, the force and load distribution also depends to a large extent on your technique.
What you should consider for a good bench press technique
Now we come to the bench press execution. There are tons of things to look out for here. You don’t even know where to start. Of course, nobody manages to always pay attention to everything at the same time. In my opinion, there are only three essential rules that you should really pay attention to if you want to do your bench press properly.
If you really observe the following rules, then you are already at 90%. Then, if you want, you can of course (ideally with a trainer) readjust a few details.
Correct bench press rule 1: Stable five-point support
When doing the bench press, the entire execution should always be firmly fixed on the bench over three points on your body. These are your shoulder blades and your butt. You can still have a slightly (!) Hollow back, which is even helpful to better maintain body tension.
You shouldn’t be lying flat on the bench. Pull your shoulder blades together at the back before you take the starting position. You can imagine holding a tennis ball between your shoulder blades. This not only gives you a very stable three-point support, but also reduces the possibility of heavily falsifying over the shoulders.
If you have these three points stable, you can next take care of points four and five and thus a stable stance. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how exactly you stand. It is important that you fix yourself symmetrically and stably on the floor and do not change your standing position during the execution.
Bench press technique, rule 2: from shoulder to chest
From vertically over the shoulder to directly over the middle of your chest, that should be the way of your execution. Many people bench press like a vertical line. However, this does not correspond to the natural movement pattern. As a result, the classic strength athlete and bodybuilder shoulder and neck problems can occur in the medium to long term. Especially in combination with the next rule, you put a stop to these problems because you are doing your bench press correctly.
Imagine the movement like a “/” in the full range of motion. With your arms straight, the bar is vertically above your shoulder and at the lower end point, the bar is almost at mid-chest height. You can orientate yourself on your nipples. Do not put the dumbbell on your chest, but reverse the movement at the point of a light touch.
Bench press technique Rule 3: The right grip
You can choose the grip width according to your feeling. A little wider than shoulder width is a good starting point to find the right grip position for you. I like to orient myself by the markings on most barbell bars. Ultimately, it is important that you grip in parallel in order to have an even load.
What you should definitely pay attention to is that your wrists stay neutral, i.e. straight and do not bend. This automatically keeps your elbows directly under the bar and thus in the optimal position when you are training. If you have a hard time keeping your wrists straight, try watching your elbows. Are these directly under the bar?
If you still find it difficult to keep your wrists stable and straight, wrist wraps * might be an option. However, I would recommend you try engineering first. If you should decide in favor of bandages, I advise you to pay attention to your elbows.
Bonus tip: Always let someone look at your execution
Finally, I would like to give you a tip on how you can pay even more attention to whether and how well you really adhere to the aforementioned rules. If you have the opportunity, have someone check regularly to see if you are doing the important things on the bench press. The best thing to do is to have your training partner make a video of you at the same time. This way you can watch it again afterwards. If necessary, you can make such a video yourself with your mobile phone.
Even if you really pay close attention to your own execution, you can often see things from the outside that you don’t even notice. Errors that can slowly creep in can also be quickly identified in this way. So you have the opportunity to take countermeasures in a short time.
In this way, your bench press technique will improve even faster and you will also prevent your technique from deteriorating again once you have learned the bench press properly.
If you keep these things in mind, you will make progress in no time and you will quickly be better at bench press than 99% of the people who train in German fitness studios.
Here is a video of a good bench press technique
For the visual people among my readers, I have picked out a video in which, I think, Marc Rippetoe (the author of Starting Strength *) explains very well what you can do with the bench press should pay attention. The video is in English, but I haven’t found a German one that explains a good bench press technique as well.
Admittedly, it is much more complex and a few more points are addressed. If you pay attention to everything he says, then you really have the bench back on the box.
Useful training equipment for bench press
At the latest when you have been training for some time and have reached a certain weight with the bench press, you will ask yourself the question of good equipment. When the progress becomes smaller and harder, it is natural to look for tools. After all, you want to get as much out of your training as possible.
In the following I would like to introduce you to some tools that are often recommended for bench press and that I have already used myself. These should help you to improve your bench press even more effectively. I will give my opinion and recommendation for each aid.
If you are heavy or have problems with your wrists, it can be useful to provide additional stabilization. For this purpose, many strength athletes train with wrist braces *. In principle, I consider such bandages to be a useful addition to your training equipment.
However, you should really only use them if you are training at the limit and / or have problems with the stability of your wrists. Even then, you should always check beforehand whether these problems may be due to poor technique before you stabilize your wrists with bandages.
Your conclusion on the bench press
I hope, after reading this article, you now know the benefits for you if you regularly include bench presses in your training. You had probably already done this anyway. However, you should now know (even better) what to really look out for when bench pressing.
If you do bench press, I would also like to encourage you to do regular barbell rows on a regular basis. This is practically the opposite exercise for your back muscles. It is always important not only to train one-sided, but to ensure a good balance.
If you would like to find out more about the technique of complex basic exercises such as bench press, squat or deadlift , I can read the book Starting strenght by Marc Rippetoe for you * Highly recommend. From this book I have learned many important lessons about complex basic exercises, their uses and how to do them correctly.
If you want to go a little further, I also recommend that you do a professional technology check every now and then. Find a good trainer who deals with such things on a regular basis. You can either book individual training for this or you go to a special training seminar.