As a beginner to any training exercise, there are some basic considerations that will ensure you get the maximum benefits from your training program.
When you think of bench pressing, the questions you should ask yourself as a beginner will range from technical matters such as how much does a bench press bar weigh? How much should I bench? What does bench press work?
Other concerns range from the technique used, such as how to bench press, how to bench press more weight, to how to properly bench press. It can also include simple issues such as what is bench press? What does bench press mean? And what muscles does bench press work?
It is, therefore, necessary to answer these questions with regards to your fitness goals so as to properly understand the exercise and know your weaknesses and limitations. The key here is not to overload yourself with weights that give you a false sense of strength, but to master the proper bench press form for overall strength and power.
For a long time, weight training has put emphasis on the “big 4” basic lifts. These involve the deadlift, squats, overhead lifts, and of course, the bench press.
The main problem with the bench press is not the movement itself, but the fact that people overuse its variations. This makes it the focus of strength training, at the expenses of working on other muscle groups.
However, when practiced using the correct bench press form, it can prove to be very beneficial. This is because it works major upper body muscles such as the chest, lats and pecs, traps, shoulders, forearms, triceps, and rhomboids. The technique used will also exert the hips, legs and lower back.
The bench press is regarded as a superior method to bring about improved muscle strength. This is because even though it is dedicated to targeting particular muscle groups, it works the entire body as a whole and involves complete body movement.
A basic bench press set includes a weight lifting bench, a barbell, and a set of weights. A bench press bar weight is about 20kgs, and for a beginner, it is recommended for one to first use a lighter representation such as a PVC pipe. This will enable you to learn the proper technique before moving on to bench press with weights.
Fitness experts also advise beginners to have a workout partner, who will double up as your spotter. A spotter is there to assist you as the lifter to start off the exercise, but not during the actual workout. They will help you re-rack the weight and also avoid any injury by watching you train.
It is worth noting that the most prevalent training injuries are caused by faults that include not keeping your body tight, bouncing the weight on your chest, incomplete reps, and improper form and posture.
An effective bench press routine will involve the following steps:
This is an integral part of the bench press routine because it gives you a compact base that will give you more power for the upward drive. It stabilizes your body, preparing you for the lift.
Your neck, upper back, and buttocks should not lift off the fitness bench so as to result in curvature of the lower back. This gives your body a full range of movement during the exercise and contributes directly to your overall strength.
Squeeze your shoulders together while raising your chest to the bar. Your shins should be vertically beneath you with your feet planted firmly on either side of the bench. Combining these will effectively allow you to generate more power and drive for the lift.
Having proper knowledge of how to grip the bar will help you avoid injuries to the joints or your body caused by a falling barbell. The type of grip is also important because it will affect the muscle being exerted.
A wide grip is used mostly by powerlifters because it allows them to lift more weight. However, for a beginner, a narrower grip is recommended because it makes your forearms more vertical, as well as being the most secure movement for building strength.
Wide or narrow grips are a personal preference, but it is important to maintain vertical forearms that are perpendicular to the ground when lifting. This ensures a constant up and down movement with a solid line of support.
It is also advisable not to go for the thumbless grip on the barbell because it could cause damage to your wrists and other joints. The grip is unsafe: instead, you should go for the grip with your thumb around the bar. The bar should rest on the balls of your palm because this is the position that gives you the strongest grip and locked wrists.
An average bench press session is based explicitly on the weight lifted, and the strength of the user. For example, it can be five sets of five reps each, but this value is determined by your experience, intensity, and also the advice of your trainer.
When you unrack the bar, it should be precisely above your shoulders. With a curving motion, lower it towards the lower part of your clavicles. The process of lowering and lifting should be a controlled motion so that you do not drop the bar on your chest. Ensure that your elbows are at a 45-degree angle and not pushed away from the body. This will help keep your body tightened and stable.
After completing your reps, ask your spotter to help you re-rack the bar if need be.
The bench press is a necessary part of any strength training program because it acts as a complete body movement that builds upper body strength as well as core muscles and balance. By tightening the back, legs, and hips during the movement, you are effectively transforming your body into a solid base.
For beginners, it is advisable not to train alone. This is because most movements in the gym can be dangerous, depending on the degree of complexity, or weight being lifted. Having someone to watch out for you and your form during the session will add correctness and motivation into the exercise.