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Bench (Flat Bench Barbell Press)

 

First things first, set the safety catchers at “neck saver” height . These will not interfere with your bench press and if you need them you will thank me…

 

Lie on your back, with a barbell in front of you, lower it to your chest and then push it away from you.

Most men who have been in a gym have benched before and it’s far more common to hear “how much can you bench" than any other exercise.

 

It's hard to gauge why it's the most popular exercise for most men, that they can't miss out, even though they haven't squatted in six months but it definitely is. For this reason Monday is known as “international chest day".

 

Nobody will argue that its more beneficial than squats and deadlifts but let's face it, it's probably a lot more popular.

Part of the attraction is that it is easier to get started on than standing exercises like squats and presses and partly because it's one of the exercises you will be able to lift the most weight on.

 

The bench press should be performed as follows;

  • Lie on the bench with your eyes directly below the bar
  • Take your grip and squeeze the bar.
  • Arch your back and stick your chest out. Create full body tension.
  • Straighten your arms and pull the bar off the cage using your lats.
  • Take a deep breath
  • Lower the bar until it touches your chest
  • Press the bar away from you until your arms are straight.

Grip

 

Use a full grip on the bar not s suicide grip. Suicide grip is where your thumb is on the same side of the bar as your fingers. If you find this more comfortable, too bad, you will get used to a regular grip.

 

When you grip the bar you should be doing so diagonally across your hands so your forearms and elbows are under the bar and your wrists are not bent back. This is safer for your wrists and shoulders and is also more efficient.

 

You should aim to squeeze the bar tightly, this will create tension in your lower arm and lead to a more solid lift. You will be able to apply more force to the barbell and not leak power.

 

Your grip width will be determined by your shoulder with and length of your upper arm. Too wide and you'll be likely to flare your elbows, which can cause shoulder injuries and peg tears. Too narrow and you will not be able to utilise your pecs and you will rely on your deltoids and triceps to complete the rep.

 

Feet

 

Your feet should be in the correct position to start your strong and stable base to press from. They should be flat on the floor and as far back as you are comfortable.

 

Back arch

 

You should arch your back and stick your belly up into the air. Feel like you are pulling yourself up to meet the bar. The shorter the distance you have to move the bar the better. You should also feel like you are pushing your upper back into the bench and keeping your glutes tight and bum down, in contact with the bench.

 

Breath and Brace

 

Although the kinetic chain runs from the bench through your back, arms and hands you need to create tension through your full body for a stronger bench. All the way to your feet being pressed into the floor. You need tension throughout for a stable platform for your upper body to press from.

 

Do Not under any circumstances

  • Bounce the bar off your chest
  • As a spotter, touch the bar unless you need to. If your hands touch the bar it DOES NOT count.
  • Tap dance, your feet should stay glued to the floor.
  • Stop before the bar touches your chest. No partial reps, the rep starts and finishes with straight arms and should make contact with your torso at the bottom.

Bouncing the bar off your chest is the most common mistake in the bench press, followed by elbows flared out way too wide and not breathing and bracing properly.

Lastly before you go and bench

  • Use chalk if you wish, it will help keep a secure grip.
  • Wear lifting shoes ideally as with all exercises but something fairly solid without too big a cushioned sole.
  • Wear wrist straps if you wish, they may help you keep a more solid, vertical wrist position and make your bench more efficient.
  • Set the safety arms on the rack at “neck saver” height. They should not be in the way but might just save you from having to roll the bar down from your chest to your hips if you fail a rep or worse…..

Now go and bench. Remember, using our method you should stick to the weights as programmed, use the time at the start of the programme to make your technique rock solid.

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