The Ultimate Bench Press Tutorial

Congratulations. You have found the ultimate bench press tutorial that should help you lift the heaviest you have ever done and perfect the technique of one of the most important and utilised exercise for the chest.

We previously explained why the barbell bench press is the best exercise for the chest. It is also one of the most famous exercises people do in the gym. You don’t need much, but a barbell, weight plates, and a bench to lie on.

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If you want to grow bigger and stronger chest muscles, one sure way to accomplish that is to perfect your technique on the bench press to be able to lift heavier and heavier loads progressively. To help you with that and the ultimate bench press tutorial, we lean into the expertise of Dr Aaron Horschig.

Dr Aaron Horschig is a physical therapist, coach, and creator of Squat University. He is one of the most respected authorities when it comes to squatting and everything related to your stance and knees.

He is joined by Julius Maddox, the world record holder for heaviest raw bench press (782 pounds or 355 kilos).

See the explanation for the ultimate bench press tutorial from them below.

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The Ultimate Bench Press Tutorial

Before you lay on the bench and start pressing up and down the bar, you need to position yourself correctly. Maddox talks about the only four points of contact that you should have:

  • Head – so you don’t misalign the spine
  • Back – pressed against the bench press with a natural arch
  • Butt – in a competition, lifting up the butt will result in a no lift
  • Feet – behind the knees so the feet don’t slip while lifting and to engage quads while lifting

“This assures that we have proper leverage when it comes to the pressing movement,” he says.

Source: Bruno Bueno on Pexels

The hand placement on the bar is also important and there is no ultimate correct answer of how wide your grip should be on the barbell. “How we do this is to try your push-up and to see different positions to find what is the most comfortable,” Horschig says.

Body positioning is also important. Your toes, behind your knees as mentioned earlier, should also be lined up against the bottom of the platform of the bench. Your eyes should be directly lined up beneath the barbell.

The path of the barbell as you press up and down will not be vertically straight, but a slight “J” curve to keep the lats activated and the elbows underneath the bar. The barbell should also hit just below the nipple line.

And that is pretty much everything you need to know for this wonderful exercise to lift heavier and heavier. See the full explanation of the ultimate bench press tutorial in the video below.

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How Heavy Should You Lift When Training for Muscle Growth?

When training for muscle growth (hypertrophy), the weight you lift, often referred to as the training load or intensity, is an important factor to consider. Here are some guidelines to help determine how heavy you should lift:

Use a weight that challenges you: To promote muscle growth, it’s important to use a weight that challenges your muscles. This means selecting a weight that allows you to complete the desired number of repetitions within the hypertrophy rep range (generally 8 to 12 reps) with proper form, while also feeling challenging towards the end of each set.

Choose a weight that elicits fatigue: The weight you select should cause fatigue in the target muscles by the end of each set. You should feel a sense of muscular burn or fatigue during the final few reps, indicating that the weight is appropriately challenging.

Progressive overload: To continue building muscle, it’s crucial to gradually increase the demands on your muscles over time. This can be achieved through progressive overload, which involves gradually increasing the weight you lift as your muscles adapt and grow stronger. Aim to progressively increase the weight as you become more comfortable with a certain weight range to continue stimulating muscle growth.

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Form and technique: While it’s important to challenge yourself with heavier weights, it’s equally important to prioritize proper form and technique. Lifting weights that are too heavy and compromise your form can increase the risk of injury and reduce the effectiveness of the exercise. Focus on maintaining good form throughout each repetition, even when using challenging weights.

biggest bench press mistakesSource: Photo courtesy of CrossFit Inc.

Individual capabilities: The appropriate weight will vary depending on your individual capabilities, strength level, and experience. What may be heavy for one person might be light for another. It’s important to listen to your body and select weights that are appropriate for your current fitness level.

Variation in training: Incorporating a variety of rep ranges and training modalities can be beneficial for overall muscle development. While the hypertrophy rep range (8-12 reps) is commonly associated with muscle growth, including both higher rep ranges (12-15+) and lower rep ranges (6-8) in your training can provide different stimuli and promote well-rounded muscle development.

Remember, finding the right weight is a process of trial and error. Start with a weight that challenges you within the recommended rep range, and adjust as needed based on your individual capabilities and progression. Consulting with a fitness professional or personal trainer can also provide guidance and help you determine the appropriate weight selection for your specific goals and needs.

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Benefits of Doing Bench Press

The bench press is a popular strength training exercise that primarily targets the muscles of the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Here are some benefits of incorporating bench press into your workout routine:

AMRAP Chest Workouts push workout Stretch Focused TrainingSource: Photo courtesy of CrossFit Inc.
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  1. Upper body strength: The bench press is an effective compound exercise that engages multiple muscle groups. It primarily targets the pectoralis major (chest muscles) but also works the deltoids (shoulders) and triceps (back of the arms). By regularly performing bench press, you can increase your upper body strength and enhance your overall muscular development.
  2. Muscle hypertrophy: The bench press is known for its ability to stimulate muscle growth. It activates and challenges the chest muscles, leading to hypertrophy (increased muscle size) over time. This can help you develop a well-defined and muscular chest.
  3. Improved pushing strength: As a pushing exercise, the bench press strengthens the muscles involved in pushing movements, such as pushing heavy objects or performing pushing exercises in sports. By improving your pushing strength through bench press training, you can enhance your performance in various activities and sports that require upper body strength.
  4. Enhanced bone density: Resistance training exercises like the bench press can contribute to increased bone mineral density. This can be particularly beneficial for older adults or individuals at risk of osteoporosis, as it helps strengthen bones and reduce the risk of fractures.
  5. Functional fitness: The strength and muscle development achieved through bench press can have practical benefits in daily life. It can make activities like lifting, pushing, and carrying objects easier and more efficient, enhancing your overall functional fitness.

Remember to always use proper form, start with lighter weights, and gradually increase the load as you progress. It’s also essential to warm up, stretch, and listen to your body to prevent injuries and maximize the benefits of bench press training.

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