9 Tips for Bench Press

Every time you walk into your fitness gym on a Monday, you will surely see a lot of lifters performing the bench press. The bench press will always be the go-to exercise of everyone when they want to have a strong and bigger chest. Also, it’s one of the most famous exercises.

But the thing is, I see a lot of people doing the bench press the wrong way. What if you realize that you’re one of them? Because bench press is so popular, a variety of mistakes are being done. Instead of getting the best results, they weren’t able to engage their chest muscle as possible.

I provided a list of my top 9 bench press tips that you might want to consider for your next bench press workout. This is your guide to having a better bench press.

1. To Increase Bench Press Strength, Do Pull-Ups

When I was a beginner, I remember that this was my problem. I was stuck with a specific weight on my bench press. I don’t know why I can’t increase an extra plate. Then with years of experience and research, I’ve learned that pull-ups can have a crucial part to increase your bench press.

I know my research was right back then because I remember when I asked one of my fitness trainers about this matter, he told me that;

“Big strong lats help you lift heavy weights off your chest”

Arnold Q. Fitness Trainer

When you perform bench press, you might not notice that your back muscles will be the ones to control the weights during the lowering phase. What I did was, I improved my pull-ups and I aim to have strong lats so that it will be easier for me to lift heavy weights during my bench press.

With months of training, I tried to change my program and prioritize pull-ups so I can put extra weight on my bench press. Improving your pull-ups is just one of the ways to increase your bench press strength. Never neglect your pull-ups. Learn how to balance your pull-ups and bench press on your program.

2. Leg Drive for Support

This one is also a great tip that I can share with you. If you want to break your old PRs and lift heavy weights on your bench press, use your legs for support because it can help raise the bar off your chest. Your leg drive can be a holy grail for a greater bench press.

When I learned about this leg drive technique, I realized that my body is one complete system that the other parts of my body can help me with my bench press. Like for real, I’m not saying that your leg drive is the only thing that can help you with your bench. There’s your forearms, hands, and lats.

First, you need to set up your foot and position it in a way that you’re comfortable. I recommend you put your feet flat so that you’ll develop the highest amount of power to your upper body.

If you lack in height and it’s difficult for you to put your feet flat on the floor, I suggest putting plates or any hard platforms under your feet. Once you position your foot properly, press the barbell and drive the front of your foot on the floor.

Master using your leg drive as a support because it’s a great advantage to help you lift your bench press. Look how those super strong guys at your gym apply this method. Some of them are not that strong, they just know how to apply this technique.

3. Try Different Types of Bench Press Grips

Are you tired of doing the usual bench press grip? The most common that’s used by lifters is the traditional grip. Not so wide, not so close. Well, there are different types of bench press grips you can try. Each one has different techniques and purposes. They also engage a specific muscle.

  • Traditional Bench Press – Offers comfort and control. Engages your chest and triceps.
  • Wide Grip – When you try to limit the range of motion, perform this type of grip. Many lifters struggle with this grip, you can give it a try and see if you’re comfortable.
  • Close Grip – It engages your chest but it also provides greater activation on your triceps. Don’t put your hands too close together, I recommend using a wrist wrap.
  • Reverse Grip – This grip is rarely used at the gym. I don’t recommend this for beginners. This is great for activating your upper chest and biceps. Be extra careful when performing this grip.

You might realize that you overlooked different types of grips. A lot of lifters are used to simply lying on the bench and grab the barbell. How you hold the barbell can give you a big difference in your chest. Every grip that’s listed has benefits; you might want to add this in your next bench press workout.

Note: Learn how to adjust your grip in a way that you’re comfortable. Lifters with short or long hands are different.

4. Control Your Breathing

Breathing is very important when performing the bench press. A lot of beginners and even intermediate lifters hold their breath when lifting the bar. There’s a chance you might pass out if you hold your breath.

When you know how to breathe properly during a bench press, it enables you to be stable when executing the exercise. Another great thing about controlling your breathing is you provide oxygen to your muscles for them to recover.

Another thing that I’ve also notice with some lifters is they tend to forget to control their breathing because they’re too focus on the bar because they’re scared it might fall. So how to control your breathing during bench press?

“When performing a bench press, inhale as you lower the barbell towards your chest and exhale as you lift.”

Arnold Q. Fitness Trainer

The next time you do a bench press, apply proper breathing. You can also practice your breathing before lifting a weight.

5. Look for the Sweet Spot

When performing a bench press, you need to look for the sweet spot. When you lower the bar, it must be on the nipple level. If you’re curious whether the bar should hit your chest, yes you should. But it’s also fine if you don’t as long as it almost hits your chest

When it’s too far from your chest, consider it as a half rep and I’m not a big fan of that. I want the complete range of motion. I know some lifters will ask if it’s required to hit the chest. My answer is, it depends.

Powerlifters would recommend that you need to hit your chest, but if you’re casual lifters who want to build muscle and increase strength, it’s fine if you don’t. There are times that I don’t prefer to hit my chest.

There is some lifter who isn’t comfortable in hitting their chest. They feel pain on their shoulders when they lower the bar too much. You don’t need to worry because even if the bar doesn’t hit your chest, it won’t hinder your chest progress.

If you are comfortable lowering the barbell down without hitting your chest, feel free to do it that way. Avoid those people who force you to hit your chest, don’t take their advice. You know what’s right for you.

6. Look for a Spotter

Having a spotter is a great help when doing a bench press. They can help you safely without hurting yourself if something serious would happen. There’s a time that we get exhausted in the middle of a workout, a spotter can support us.

A spotter can also motivate you to keep pushing more. They can also be your guide when counting so that you can’t cheat your reps. A spotter would also assist you to perform your bench properly. They can easily see check your form especially when you’re lifting the barbell in an unstable way.

I don’t recommend that you will just pick any person at the gym. You might not know if that person knows how to spot. Look for a partner that you know well. I have a close friend at the gym who always assists me during my bench press. He knows how to spot me well.

I like the way he assists me because he will just add a little strength and I can still meet that challenge that I want. I also trust him with my safety because he always pays attention. When you have a new spotter, explain to them how you want to be spotted.

Be honest with them that you’re quite scared to lift those 100 pounds of bench press so that they can prepare themselves.

7. Wrap Your Thumb Around the Bar for Safety Purposes

I can’t stress this enough, I don’t recommend doing the suicide grip during your bench press. Other lifters call it the thumbless grip. I would be honest but I also tried doing that grip even though it’s dangerous. But I just want you to realize that doing the suicide grip isn’t safe, and it will never be safe. You are like waiting for an accident to happen.

To all my gym buddies, they know that I will never recommend doing the suicide grip. I’m just concern about their safety. If you think it’s cool because Arnold Schwarzenegger did it, you’re putting yourself at risk.

You can still achieve the same wrist position when you wrap your thumb. Until now, the thumbless grip is controversial. In powerlifting, it’s against their rules and it’s not permitted during competition.

“I used suicide grip for many years, but I realize that I was more comfortable with the standard grip. I was strong enough to lift the weights when my thumb is wrapped around the bar.”

Marcus G. Fitness Enthusiast

If you’re still planning to use the suicide grip, try to watch YouTube videos where lifters experienced an accident because they were thumbless when doing a bench press. How about for other exercises? Well, that’s another topic.

8. Track Your Lift

If a bench press workout is already part of your program, that’s great. Now, you need to ensure you track your lifts. With the help of tracking, you will see your strengths and weaknesses on your bench press.

You will have an overview of your progress, and it will be easier for you to achieve success. To track your lift, the simplest thing that you can do is to get a workout journal. You can log the number of sets, reps, and weight that you lifted in your previous bench press. You will see if you’re getting stronger.

If you don’t see any progress, your chest will not respond to change. It wouldn’t also grow if you keep doing the same amount of weight.

What I also do is, when I’m consistent in tracking my lifts, I use a tape measure to measure the size of my chest. It’s an old-school way but you can see if the size of your muscles is improving. If you don’t have a tape measure, you can take a picture of yourself and compare it after 3 months of consistent training.

“When you keep on looking in the mirror and expect for improvements, most likely you won’t notice it. Better take a picture to see the difference.”

Travis B. Fitness Enthusiast

9. To Grow, Take Some Rest

Stop benching and take some rest. The bench press demands a lot of energy when doing it. If you want to increase your strength and recover from your previous bench press. Give your chest enough rest.

Don’t be scared to take 3 days of rest from the bench. I only perform chest workouts twice a week. It’s already enough for me.

“When you lift big, You also need to rest big.”

Chris F. Fitness Trainer

When you perform bench press daily, it will take a toll on your body. Your chest won’t recover and it won’t grow. You might also want to try de-loading when you reach a plateau. Decrease your weight by 50% or take a full weak break from training.

Lorofy
Lorofy

Hey! I'm Lorofy, I'm a politician in our Local Government Unit and a Church Leader. I'm a dedicated leader in our community and an ambassador of goodwill. I became a motivator and an advocate for men who are looking for meaning in life and on how to reach their full potential. I'm also a fitness enthusiast and consider fitness as my everyday expertise.