4 tips for hitting the perfect bench press at the gym
As summer nears, gyms everywhere are flooded with patrons trying to push out those final reps to put the finishing touches on their excellent beach bods. Unfortunately, many gym-goers don't see the results they desire, even after adjusting their diets and exercising regularly.
So, what's going wrong? Well, the answer may be, simply, that they're not doing their reps properly. We've heard plenty of amateurs say that all they need to do is lay down on the flat bench and start pushing out sets to get the massive, trimmed chest they want. However, that's not always the case.
Genetics play a huge role in how our muscles heal after a workout. But no matter how lucky (or unlucky) you were in the genetic lottery, we've got some good news for you: it all starts with hitting the bench press the right way. By following these simple rules, in just a few short weeks, you'll begin to notice a positive change.
Make sure the straight bar is even
If you're not working out on the Smith machine, there's a good chance the straight bar isn't correctly laying across the rest rods. One side could be shifted over a few inches, which makes the strain on your body asymmetric. This means that one side of your chest is handling more work, which can ultimately lead to injury — ending your workouts altogether for a while.
So, before you lift that bar, make sure everything's squared.
Warm up that chest
Time and time again, we've seen people simply lay on the bench with weights tacked on the bar and start pushing out reps. The problem is, their chest isn't warmed up, leading the patron to squeeze out just a few reps before quitting. That's not going to cut it if you want to get that chest ripped.
Most bodybuilders will ramp up the weight, from low resistance to high, before even beginning to count their reps. This allows blood to enter your pectoral muscles, giving you that classic pump. Now you're ready to do some massive lifts.
Among beginners, this is a huge issue. Many people who grab onto the bar don't know exactly which muscles will be used to support the weight. Some spread their hands too fall apart and risk hurting their shoulders. In the fitness world, we use the "90-degree rule" quite often. This means we don't bend our joints more than 90-degrees to avoid getting hurt. The same rule applies here.
When latching a solid grip onto the bar, consider where your elbows will be when forming a 90-degree angle between your biceps and your forearms. You'd be amazed at how much more weight you can push just by employing proper hand placement.
This is an example of solid foot placement.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Christopher DeWitt)
Feet placement? What the hell does that have to do with my chest?
Proper feet placement will help your body stay balanced as you lift the heavy load using your chest. We've seen people place their feet on the bench as they work out — that's honestly not the brightest thing to do.
You want to place your feet solidly on the ground, directly under your bent knees. This will give you a strong foundation and ensure that the bar doesn't slip to one side or the other as you finish the set strong.