6 BENCH PRESS MISTAKES: By Mark Wallace
Mistake #1: Lowering the bar to the wrong position on the chest
Don’t be intimidated to try to touch your chest with the barbell. In a perfect world we’d all have the same range of motion and body types but some of us have longer arms and a shorter pectoral stretch. Don’t stretch your pecs and shoulders while benching. Go down as far as you can but never lower the bar to a position anywhere near your collarbone. You should lower the bar to a point a little below your nipples.
Mistake #2: Using too wide a grip
A common misconception about bench press is the wider the grip, the wider the chest. People who are new to fitness often use too wide a grip putting extreme strain on the shoulders. Using a medium grip just outside shoulder width is optimal for bench pressing. To target other areas in the pecs, incorporate different chest workouts.
Mistake #3: Not having stable foot positioning
When your feet are placed on the bench, it prevents the stable position required to bench-press securely. If your feet are on the floor but your heels are off the ground (which usually goes together with excessive arching of the lower back), it compromises the stability of your foot position. Keep your feet flat on the floor, or if that’s not possible, elevate your feet on a small platform.
Mistake #4: Arching the back excessively
While there must be some natural arching of the lower back, it should never be exaggerated. It’s typically exaggerated when lifters thrust their hips off the bench to raise their chest in order to reduce the distance the barbell has to move. Mainly seen being used by power lifters, it is dangerous and should not be introduced to anyone. As mentioned, this usually goes along with lifting the heels off the floor.
Mistake #5: Not having sufficient control over the bar
Proper lifting consists of lowering the bar slowly and pushing it up quickly. There is often a bounce off the chest when lifters lower the bar while benching. This movement decreases the amount of primary muscle being used (pecs) and increases the amount the body itself uses to push up the weight. Putting stress and danger on the shoulders, back and elbows, bouncing off the chest changes direction so suddenly that it increases the perceived weight of the bar. Instead, lower the barbell to your chest with control, pause it for a second or two at your chest (while staying tight), and then push it up. Pause briefly at the top, and then repeat. You may have to reduce to the amount of weight initially, but over a few weeks you’ll build it back and then some, and you’ll become a better bench presser as a result.
Mistake #6: Locking elbows at the top
Straightening of the arms at the top of a repetition not only takes pressure off of the pectoral muscles but it puts the pressure on the joints of the elbows and shoulders. To keep tension specifically on the chest, don’t completely lock the arms out. In times needed to take a quick breather between reps, you may stop at the top of the exercise while keeping a slight bend in the elbows. This will affect the positive growth in the chest as well as reduce the chance of joint pain/injury.
Original article by: Stuart Mcrobert