It is almost a religion in the gym that people should bench press if they want to see bigger and stronger chest muscles. If that’s so, then why the bench press isn’t growing your chest? There are a number of reasons as you will read below.
Kinesiologist and fitness trainer Jeremy Ethier explained in one of his latest videos why the bench press isn’t growing your chest. According to him, the exercise can cause discomfort in the shoulders, wrists and elbows for most people and, therefore, people tend to have trouble activating the chest while performing it.
As the anatomy of the body changes from individual to individual, sometimes what is good for one person may not be the best advice for someone else. And that is where the fine line of why the bench press isn’t growing your chest answer lies.
Ethier explains that most discomfort people feel when bench pressing is likely due to an improper way people set up the exercise. He talks about three tips on how to fix that.
Why the Bench Press Isn’t Growing Your Chest
1. Find the right elbow angle
For most people, an elbow angle of somewhere around 45 degrees to 70 degrees will best line up with and activate chest fibres.
Keeping the shoulders at a 90-degree angle will shift the tension away from the deltoids and will increase the risk of shoulder impingement. Below 45 degrees will also shift the tension away from the delts.
Find the sweet spot in which you are comfortable and that feels it activates your chest better.
2. Adjust grip width based on elbow angle
How flared out your elbows are will dictate how wide or narrow your grip should be. If your elbows are closer to a 45-degree angle, you should hold the bar with a more narrow grip to get your forearms lined up properly.
A more flared out elbow means you must use a more wide grip. Either way, you should feel more tension placed on your chest rather than on other muscles groups like shoulders and triceps.
3. Arch your upper back
By arching your upper back you will activate your chest better, especially your mid and lower chest.
How much you should arch depends on your individual body anatomy. For most people, Jeremy says, an arch that isn’t exaggerated, but that also is not very flat against the bench should work.