How to bench-press

How to bench-press?

What is the bench press?

The bench press is an upper-body horizontal pushing action, the force pattern of this action looks more like the push-up, but there are some differences. The main difference is that in the push-up movement, the scapula is allowed to have some activity; but in the bench press movement, the scapula needs to always maintain a retracted, stable state. Many bench press trainers often ignore the stability of the scapula, resulting in rotator cuff injury, shoulder blade impingement, and other problems. Japanese bench press king kodomo Daiki (74kg class, with equipment bench press 300kg, without equipment bench press 215kg) once said the lifeblood of the bench press is the scapula.
Therefore, before learning how to bench press, I suggest you master two points.

  • Push the action with the scapula in the case of keeping it retracted
  • When doing the pushing action, let the angle between the arm and the torso is less than 60 degrees.

1. Learn the foreplay of bench press

1.1 Ensure that the shoulder blades are stable and do not shrug the shoulders

When practicing the bench press, make sure to retract your shoulder blades and try to keep your shoulders as close to your hips as possible when doing the bench press, don’t shrug your shoulders. The bench press is the most technically advanced movement of the three major events. The most important thing about the bench press is to make a strong retraction of your shoulder blades to ensure scapular stability and avoid shrugging. Otherwise rounded shoulders, rotator cuff injuries, and shoulder crest impingement will all find you.

(Scapula relaxed state, this state bench press easy to shrug the shoulder, shoulder joint injury-prone)

(Scapular retraction state, this state stabilizes the upper limb muscles to avoid injury)

1.2 Pay attention to the angle between the arms and the torso, do not do guillotine type of bench press

When doing all horizontal pushing movements, please don’t let the angle between your arms and torso open too much, so that there will be too much pressure on your shoulders.

(The above figure is the correct bench press position, arm and body angle within 60 degrees)

Novices who have problems with the degree of arm opening when completing the bench press often look like this.

(The above figure is the wrong push-up position. Too much upper arm abduction, into 90 degrees)

The model above is a girl~ In the posture where the arms are at 90 degrees to the torso, the shoulder joint takes most of the pressure and the movement posture is not very good, and it is easy for the trapezius muscle to compensate for the shrugging phenomenon.
Before learning the bench press, please practice a few times “pushing with the scapulae remaining retracted”.
Many beginners may have difficulty locking the scapula while continuing to do the push. I suggest that these friends try retracting the scapula with the arm straight, then bending the arm, then straightening the arm, which is a movement very close to the bench press.
If you don’t understand, it doesn’t matter, follow the three steps below to simulate a bench press.

(Step1, straighten your arms and retract your shoulder blades backward)

(Step2, do a flexion of the elbow with the scapula retracted)

(Step 3, return the action to the first step, noting that the scapula always remains retracted during this process)

2. The whole barbell bench press

(Some people may have questions about the wrist grip here, so scroll down and read the instructions on the grip in Part 7)

3.Details of the barbell bench press

3.1 How to lie down

Sitting on the edge of the dumbbell bench to lie down will not allow your head to be hit by the barbell while lying down. If you lie down in a more inward position, your head will be hit by the barbell.

(The sitting position is backward, the head will hit)

(sits down on the edge of the bench and lies down smoothly)

3.2 The position of the foot

In the barbell bench press, the state of the lower body is not as important as the squat and hard pull, but it is also very important. The stability of your lower extremities will greatly affect the overall stability of your body during the bench press.
After lying down, bring your feet as close together as possible towards your hips, with your toes facing the same direction as the bench as much as possible, allowing for a slight toed-out.

(Toes if too toed-out, the bench press when the palm of the foot is easy to leave the ground)

In the bench press, pay attention to the full foot on the ground, the palm of the foot forward to “rub” the ground. The advantage of using your feet forward to “rub” the ground is that you can transfer some of the power from your legs to your torso, helping your body to be more stable during the bench press and facilitating the use of a “leg drive” bench press techniques once you become proficient in the bench press.

3.3 The state of the hip

The hips will be the tense, tense hip state, and step on the ground palms can make your bench press more stable.

3.4. Retract the shoulder blades in the bench press

Many newcomers are used to pushing up in the process of pushing up the shoulders together to push up when the entire upper body shoulders are extremely unstable, this is a wrong action detail, should be corrected. When bench pressing we should always retract the shoulder blades to maintain stability. If there is a forward scapular extension error, please turn to the beginning of the article and retry the unassisted bench press simulation 50 times.

(Correct demonstration: retraction of the scapula)

(Wrong demonstration: scapular anterior extension)

Some trainers believe that the lower back should fit perfectly on the bench during the bench press. It is your shoulders and hips that need to fit into the bench in the bench press. We need to have a slight reverse arch in the back to keep the scapulae retracted and stable. We need the slight reverse arch in the back to “embed” the shoulders into the bench to make the body more stable. A bench press with the back completely on the floor will instead make the back more unstable. If the lumbar area is completely attached to the bench, it is usually because the trainer’s shoulder blades are not fully retracted, or the trainer is benching with the feet on the bench, either of which fails to put the body in a relatively good position for power generation.

3.5  After retracting the scapula, press down on the scapula

Please note that the scapula can do six kinds of activities, four of which are common: forward extension, retraction, lifting, and downward pressure

If you only do a retraction of the scapula without paying attention to the lowering of the scapula, you will be prone to shrugging mistakes during the bench press.

(Retraction of the scapula while pressing down on the scapula)

3.6 Head distance from the barbell

I tend to keep my eyes directly below the barbell before I bench press the bar up. If the barbell is above the mouth, throat, or even lower, the person is lying too far above the barbell and will easily let the barbell hit the bench press during the bench press. If the barbell is above the hair, or even higher, the person is lying too far from the barbell, making it more difficult to get up.

(Eyes directly below the barbell)

3.7 Grip distance and grip method

In powerlifting competitions, the grip distance for the barbell bench press must be within 81cm (the distance between the index fingers).

When the average person is just starting to learn the bench press, I recommend that the grip distance be performed using shoulder width + 4 fist distances.

When performing the barbell bench press, you need to use a full grip, and when holding the barbell, please ensure that your hands are balanced and symmetrical on the barbell.

In terms of grip, if the purpose of training is to maximize stimulation of the pectoral muscles and the training pattern is a low to medium intensity, high reps-based bodybuilding style, the bar should be held with a neutral wrist grip.

If the purpose of the training is to improve the absolute strength of the bench press, the training mode is to medium to high intensity, low reps of powerlifting style training, the wrist can have a slight extension, but it is recommended to use wrist guards.

3.8 torque – to bend the barbell in the bench press, you need to apply a torque to the barbell, that is, to the following picture, “outward Bend the barbell”.

3.9 The drop point of the barbell

The drop point of the barbell is approximately near the chest.

The drop point of the barbell does not have an exact location and will vary depending on your arm length, grip distance, and bridge height.

If your arm length is long, then the lowest point of the barbell drop will be farther from your head.

If your arm length is shorter, then the lowest point of the barbell drop will be closer to your head.

If you have a narrower grip, then the lowest point of the barbell drop will be farther from the head.

If your grip is wider, the lowest point of the barbell drop will be closer to your head.

If your bridge height is lower, then the lowest point of the barbell drop will be farther from the head.

Conversely, farther away. A common mistake many first-time bench press practitioners make is to drop too high (near the neck) or drop too low (near the stomach).

(Wrong demonstration: barbell drop position too high)

(Wrong demonstration: barbell drop position is too low)

(Correct demonstration: barbell drop position is just right)

Please note that beginners should try to keep their small arms perpendicular to the ground during the barbell drop to ensure more effort and better control of the barbell.

As you can see from the three diagrams above, if the small arms are not perpendicular to the ground during the movement, the arms and shoulders have to take on more horizontal stress that is not necessary to exist in itself.
Trainers who have mastered the bench press can allow for a slight tilt of the lower arm of up to 5 degrees (tilt angle toward the head).
Many trainers are reluctant to allow the barbell to touch their body during the bench press, often dropping to a position a few centimeters from the chest and immediately pushing up on the barbell. Both powerlifting trainers and form trainers will do better when practicing the bench press by completing the chest touch bench press.
This is because in a powerlifting competition with strict rules, the barbell is fully lowered to the body and the judge will say “Press” when he thinks it has touched the body and is stable, then you can lift it, otherwise, it will be considered a failed bench press attempt.
For trainers with a physical purpose, a longer bench press means a stronger and deeper stimulation of the chest and a more optimal effect.

3.10  The highest point of the barbell

(Wrong demonstration)

(Wrong demonstration)

(Correct demonstration)

3.11  The trajectory of the barbell

In the bench press, the lowest point of the barbell’s fall is near the chest, while the highest point of the barbell is directly above the shoulders.

Therefore, the trajectory of the barbell is not a straight line perpendicular to the ground, but a curve from the chest to the top of the shoulder, or a diagonal line.

There is a myriad of curve trajectories, generally speaking, the more advanced the trainer, the more they tend to move horizontally at the bottom (which also correlates with their “leg-driven” bench press technique), as shown in pictures 1 below, and the newer to the bench press, the more they tend to move horizontally at the top, as shown in pictures 2 below.

(Picture 1: Bench Press Curve for High-Level Bench Pressers)

(Picture 2: Common bench press curves for beginners)

3.12 The process of falling barbell

The barbell in the process of falling, the head can think and themselves in a pulling the barbell downward movement (like in doing reverse rowing), this time the back will be tighter, to provide greater stability.

(Reverse rowing)

3.13 How to get out of the bar

This is not a good habit. During the time between lying down and exiting the bar, we need to do three things: retract the shoulder blades, ensure that the hands holding the barbell are balanced and symmetrical, and adjust our breathing.
When exiting the bar, hold the barbell, straighten your hands, lift the barbell out of the hook, and then move the barbell directly above your shoulders as if you were doing a “straight arm pull down”.
Before exiting the bar, take a breath, then hold your breath, and after exiting the bar, change your breath once more before performing the bench press.
Please be careful not to shrug your shoulders when exiting the bar.

(Some people may have questions about the wrist grip here, so you can scroll up and look at the instructions on the grip in Part 7)

3.14 How to return to the bar

To return to the bar, hold the barbell, straighten your hands and place the barbell directly toward the bench press rack.

4. Breathing in the bench press

In the movement of bench press, if you use chest breathing, it will greatly cause problems such as shrugging shoulders and unstable upper body.

(Chest breathing bench press)

For breathing in the bench press we should pay attention to the following points.

4.1 Use a lateral abdominal breathing pattern. When you inhale, you should not only just puff your abdomen up, but you should also puff your abdomen out to the left and right sides together with the backside when you inhale to improve the overall abdominal stability. This is very important.

4.2 At lighter weights, use the barbell to inhale as you drop and hold or exhale as you push up to push up the barbell.

4.3 At higher weights, use the tile breathing method. That is, breathe in quickly before each completed movement, hold your breath as you perform the movement, and exhale and inhale again after pushing up.

(Abdominal breathing)

5. Common Mistakes in the bench press and answers to questions

5.1 Put your feet on the bench for the bench press

Many people in the gym will habitually put their feet on the bench to complete the bench press, or simply let the feet hanging in the air to complete the bench press, as in the following two pictures.

Trainers who use this type of bench press tend to explain that it helps your body be more stable and allows the lower back to fit completely on the ground, allowing less stress on the lower back and protecting the body while being able to push up more weight.
But putting your feet on the bench will have two flaws.
The first flaw is that when you put your feet on the bench, it’s hard to keep your lower body in a stable position and your core and shoulder joints need to share more strength to balance your body.
The second flaw is that we don’t need to keep the lower back completely on the ground when benching, we need to have a slight back arch to keep the scapulae retracted and stable, we need to keep the shoulders “embedded” in the bench through a slight back arch to make the body more stable. A bench press with the back completely on the ground will make the back more unstable.

5.2 Lie too up or too down

People lying too much on the bench there is no room for bench press, pushing up the barbell will easily touch the bench press frame. When the barbell is heavy, it is difficult for the trainer to push the barbell out of the bench press alone.

5.3 Half grip barbell

In the bench press, the half grip is extremely dangerous. It is easy to let the barbell come off and hit yourself during bench press training.

(Wrong demonstration)

5.4 The upper arm and torso angle is too large

As mentioned before, if the angle between the upper arm and the torso is too large in the bench press, it is easy to cause shoulder impact, resulting in a shoulder injury. Many people feel that the shoulder is injured in the bench press, often because they do not know how to retract the scapula and abduct the arm too much in the bench press.

5.5 Scapulae move up with the arm

As mentioned above, the scapula should remain stable in the bench press and should not move up with the arms.

(Wrong demonstration)

5.6 Do not do the full range of the bench press

In the gym, I always see many gym-goers only do small half-range bench press, the barbell push down to when not get along with the chest. This greatly wastes the value of the movement of the bench press but also makes the bench press training efficiency is greatly reduced.

5.7 let the barbell at the lowest point by the elasticity of the chest bounce

In fact, in the movement of the bench press, you should treat the process of bench press drop and push up as two stages, we should not rely on this “bounce” to complete the movement in the bench press.
If you use the chest bounce technique a lot, you probably need to practice more chest pause bench presses.






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