While the bench press can certainly be your ticket to a Schwarzenegger-like chest, what many trainees fail to realize is that it’s not as simple as lying on a bench, unracking the bar, and pushing it from point A to B.
In order to properly and forcefully engage the pec-fibers, proper body positioning, range of motion, and performance technique must be meticulously adhered to. When you lose your form, your chest won’t build the shape and mass that you want it to. Find out what mistakes to avoid in order for your pecs to reach their peak.
Too Much Focus on One Rep Max
Too many people are concerned with how much weight they can bench press for a single rep rather than for sets of 7-12, which is where muscle growth tends to be best stimulated. Unless you’re a powerlifter, stop maxing out every time you bench and focus on exhausting the muscles.
Your Feet Aren’t Grounded
Some lifters think that putting their feet up is more effective for building the chest than placing them flat on the floor. While this technique does have its uses, it is best to keep a solid base when pressing so that the majority of “neural drive” can be centered on pec-fiber recruitment.
Your Torso Position is Off Kilter
Improper Torso Positioning: One of the most vital aspects of bench pressing to increase pec mass is proper positioning of the torso from the beginning to the end of each set. In order to force the chest to do the majority of the work on every rep, you must A.) Keep your ribcage up high; B.) Keep a slight arch in the lower back; C.) Keep the scapulae squeezed together; D.) Keep the shoulders shrugged down and into the bench.
You’re Using the Wrong Grip
For maximum engagement of the chest during the bench press it is best to space the hands about shoulder with, or just slightly wider, apart.
Why anyone thinks it is smart to bounce the bar off of the ribcage is beyond me. Even if this allows you to put more weight on the bar, it is obvious to everyone that you are using momentum, and not muscle strength, to complete the lift. In addition, this practice is only robbing you of the potential benefits of the bench press while greatly increasing the chance for serious injury.
Your Tempo is Off
If you want to get the most profound-pec-pump from the bench press you must control the bar at all times. I recommend that you lower the weight over 3-4 seconds, hold the stretch position for 1 second, and then explosively press to the top.
You’re Not Using Full Range of Motion
Almost as bad as bouncing the bar off the chest is the inane practice of performing half-reps on the bench press. You want massive pecs to be proud of? Then lower the bar to full stretch (which for most people will mean lightly touching the bar to the chest or to a point just slightly above) to excite every fiber, and then press the bar straight up to lockout, while consciously squeezing the pecs into a tight contraction.
Follow these bench-pressing parameters for maximum pec-pounding results 🙂 🙂