Is it Monday yet? Also known in the gym world as International Bench day.
Every week people head to their nearest gym to work their chest muscles, many of them performing the bench press.
There’s a reason a majority of gym-goers choose the bench press. It is the king of exercises when it comes to developing a strong and powerful upper body.
There is one small problem however.
Most people are doing them wrong.
In this week’s Exercise Video of the Week I go over 3 common bench press mistakes.
Correcting these mistakes can dramatically increase your bench press numbers, making you a more muscular and stronger version of yourself.
Mistake Number 1: Bad Bar and Wrist Positioning
The setup is crucial to a successful bench press. Whether you compete in powerlifting, or simply want to get stronger and more efficient with your bench press, perfecting the setup will keep you healthy and allow you to continually progress.
A lot of times a lifter will grab the bar in the wrong position, thus creating poor leverages and placing more stress on the elbows and wrists.
Improper bar and wrist positioning will immediately sap your bench numbers.
The first step to correcting this is to pay attention to where the bar sits in your hand. You should place the bar at the base of your palm, instead of further back towards your fingertips.
Now that the bar is in a better position, make sure your wrists are not bent too far back. When you are correctly set up for a bench press, the bar, wrist, and elbow should all line up to get the most efficient and strongest bar path.
Instead of letting the wrists bend back, squeeze the bar hard and try to point the big knuckles on your fingers straight up towards the ceiling.
Check out the video below to improve your bar positioning:
Mistake Number 2: Overtucking the Elbows
In order to maximize your bench press strength, avoid overtucking your elbows.
What happens when you overtuck the elbows?
You end up with the wrist and bar behind the elbows, thus creating a negative forearm angle.
This is going to turn the bench press into a tricep extension, which will limit how much weight you’ll be able to lift.
To correct this mistake, think about rowing the bar down to your sternum.
When I first started bench pressing, I got into the habit of twisting my elbows in to begin the descent of the lift. As I’ve practiced more and more, I no longer try to tuck my elbows quite so hard. This was one of the mistakes I made that hindered my bench progress.
Instead, I started focusing on keeping a vertical forearm, pulling my upper back to the sky, and actively rowing the bar down to my sternum.
In the video below, you can see how to avoid over tucking your elbows for a stronger bench press:
Mistake Number 3: Lack of Arch During the Press
To arch or not to arch, that is the question.
Many people bench with their backs flat all the time. It’s not that this is wrong per se, but it could be holding you back from getting stronger and pressing more weight.
I suggest people learn how to bench with an arch in their backs because it not only shortens the distance the bar has to travel, but also places the shoulder in a much more friendly pressing position. When your back is flat and you bring the bar all the way to the chest, the humeral head of the shoulder has to anteriorly rotate, which can cause unneeded stress to the biceps tendon.
Instead, try tucking the lats (the large muscles under your armpits) into your back pocket. This cue was suggested to me by strength coach Adam Pine. This essentially pulls the chest and upper back up towards the ceiling, and creates some serious tension during the set up and execution of the lift.
You want to maintain your arch throughout the entire set as this will help engrain an efficient press.
Watch below to see what an arch looks like:
If you’re interested in learning more about benching, and want to take your bench press to the next level, shoot me an email at email@example.com.
**P.S. I just recently opened up two spots in my online coaching program. I’m looking for 2 more dedicated people who are willing to work hard, train with me, and achieve their goals.**
Want to apply for a spot?
Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more!