The Bench Press: Everything You Need to Know

How to Do the Bench Press

The bench press is one of the most popular exercises in the world. It works a variety of muscles in your chest, shoulders, and triceps, making it an essential part of any workout routine. In this article, we will describe how to perform the bench press correctly, as well as some variations and common mistakes people make when doing this exercise.

What muscles does the bench press work?

The bench press is a compound exercise, meaning it works multiple muscle groups simultaneously. The primary muscles worked are the pectoralis major (chest) and triceps brachii (arms). The pectoralis minor (a small muscle underneath the pecs) and anterior deltoids (front shoulder) are also worked to a lesser extent.

The advantages of this exercise over other forms of strength training, like the chest press, are that it is relatively simple to do and can be done with a variety of weights. In addition, the bench press can be done with dumbbells, barbells, or resistance bands.

How to perform the bench press?

There are two main ways to bench press: with your feet on the ground or elevated on a bench. If you are new to the exercise, we recommend starting with your feet on the ground. This will give you more stability and help you maintain good form.

To perform the bench press, start by lying on your back on a flat bench with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Then, grip the barbell with your hands slightly outside shoulder-width apart and lift it off the rack. Lower the barbell to your chest with control and then press it back up to the starting position.

Certain cues to be aware of when performing this movement are to tuck your chin (to prevent neck injury) and to drive through your heels (for stability). The wider the grip, the more emphasis is placed on the chest. The narrower the grip, the more emphasis is placed on the shoulders and triceps.

Common Mistakes

One of the most common mistakes people make when doing the bench press is bouncing the bar off their chest. This not only limits the amount of weight you can lift, but it can also lead to injury. Another mistake is arching your back too much, which puts unnecessary stress on your spine. Finally, another common error is flaring your elbows out to the side, which takes tension off your chest muscles.

Variations of the Bench Press

Variation #1: Dumbbell Bench Press

The dumbbell bench press is a great variation for those who want to work each side of their chest independently. To do this exercise, start by sitting on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Then, lie back and position the weights above your chest with your palms facing toward your feet. From here, lower the dumbbells to your chest and then press them back up to the starting position.

Cues to be aware of when doing this variation are to keep your elbows close to your sides and to not let the weights touch each other at the bottom of the movement.

Variation #2: Incline Bench Press

The incline bench press is a great variation for those who want to target their upper chest. To do this exercise, start by lying on an incline bench with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Then, grip the barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart and lift it off the rack. Lower the barbell to your chest with control and then press it back up to the starting position.

Cues to be aware of when doing this variation are to keep your chin tucked and to drive through your heels.

Variation #3: Decline Bench Press

The decline bench press is a great variation for those who want to target their lower chest muscles. To do this exercise, start by lying on a decline bench with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Then, grip the barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart and lift it off the rack. Lower the barbell to your chest with control and then press it back up to the starting position.

Cues to be aware of when doing this variation are to keep your chin tucked and to drive through your heels.

Variation #4: Narrow Grip Bench Press

The narrow grip bench press is a great variation for those who want to target their shoulders and triceps. To do this exercise, start by lying on a flat bench with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Then, grip the barbell with your hands close together (slightly less than shoulder-width apart) and lift it off the rack. Lower the barbell to your chest with control and then press it back up to the starting position.

Cues to be aware of when doing this variation are to keep your elbows close to your sides.

Variation #5: Wide Grip Bench Press

The wide-grip bench press is a great variation for those who want to emphasize their chest muscles. To do this exercise, start by lying on a flat bench with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Then, grip the barbell with your hands 1.5x shoulder-width apart and lift it off the rack. Lower the barbell to your chest with control and then press it back up to the starting position.

Variation #6: Resistance Band Bench Press

The resistance band bench press is a great variation for those who want to add resistance to the movement. To do this exercise, start by looping a resistance band around a sturdy post and then lying on your back on the ground. Next, grip the ends of the band with your hands and position the band across your chest. From here, press the band up overhead and then lower it back to your chest.

Cues to be aware of when doing this variation are to keep your chin tucked and to not let the band snap back down on your chest.

Summary

The bench press is a great exercise for building strength and muscle in your chest, shoulders, and triceps. When performing the bench press, it is important to keep your form in mind and to focus on the muscles you are trying to target. There are many variations of the bench press, so be sure to choose the one that is best for your goals. Lastly, don’t forget to warm up before you start lifting and to cool down when you’re finished.

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