Gym bros live and die by the bench press.
Despite the popularity of this exercise, the vast majority of guys and gals performing it simply don’t get it.
Here are 3 cardinal sins of the bench press and how to fix them.
Allowing Your Elbows to Flare
This is a problem mostly with individuals new to benching, but it can plague even experienced gym bros.
Elbow flare means you aren’t pressing efficiently, which means you won’t be pushing as much weight as you are actually capable of. It also places excessive (and unnecessary) stress on your joints, which increases your risk of injury.
When pressing, make sure to think “tuck your elbows.” Now, you don’t need them rubbing against the sides of your torso a la a close-grip bench press. A 45-degree angle is typically what most lifters adopt.
You’ll often see that there is only one grip width you should use when bench pressing. But, the truth is that grip width is highly individual. Depending on your anatomy and anthropometry, you may use a slightly wider or narrower grip than your buddy at the gym.
Generally speaking, most lifters will use a grip that is slightly wider than shoulder-width. This all allows the wrists to be directly over the elbows at the bottom of the press, which maximizes force output and minimizes joint strain.
Bouncing the Bar Off the Chest
If you’ve ever watched the NFL Combine, you’ve seen just how egregious guys can get with the amount of bounce they get with the bar.
We’ll keep this simple, your chest is not a damn trampoline. As such, you shouldn’t be bouncing the bar off your chest. This robs your muscles of precious time under tension and greatly increases the risk of injury.
As with all exercises, lower the bar under control, pause at the bottom to intensify the stretch on your muscles, and then power up to the top. You’ll make bigger pec gains and significantly reduce the chance of cracking your sternum.