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Is Your Bench Press Technique Out Of Whack?

Is Your Bench Press Technique Out Of Whack?

  1. Are you confident in your bench press? 
  2. Are you feeling weak, or failing to hit the gains in your bench press? 
  3. Do you feel that you’re stuck in a plateau with your bench press? 
  4. Are you familiar with how to activate the proper muscles to execute a solid bench press? 

If you’re experiencing some issues with your bench press then I’ll outline some possible issues and solutions here that you can use to evaluate what’s going on with your technique in the movement.

Bench Press Technique 

First of all, if you’re a beginner you may just be going through an adaptation phase with you feeling like your arms are weaker in the bench press movement.

However muscle fatigue will naturally take place regardless and you will experience failure of a lift if you’re obviously training muscle to failure for that given movement.

With that being said the bench press exercise is actually a technically demanding lift. If you really want to break down the movement and draw comparisons to your own bench pressing technique then you will want to read the rest of this article carefully.

Just be patient with me as I might get a little technical with my explanation here, but I’ll breakdown a few variables for you to look at and once you get through these I promise you that you’ll see your bench press drastically improve.

This will all come together and make sense here soon enough. In fact by the end of this I guarantee you’re going to be fascinated by what you’ll learn here and you’ll be looking forward to getting into the gym to put this all into practice!

Bench Press Technique: Some Common Technical Flaws

This may seem like an obvious go-to, but as a professional strength coach I am constantly finding flaws in lifting technique. I see this with new students, but also with seasoned lifters and athletes.

This seems to be an issue that nobody is immune to when it comes to training and lifting. It’s no different than a professional golfer having to hire a swing coach, or a pro-fighter having to hire a different grappling, or striking coach to adjust their performance.

Sometimes a fresh set of eyes can pick out a flaw faster as our own eyes tend to fall into a pattern of comfort and familiarity with what we’re doing. This is ok though…this is common with everyone.

With that being said here are some common technical flaws associated with the barbell bench press that you may be guilty of doing…

  • Improper grip width on the bar (too wide, or too narrow)
  • Lack of shoulder retraction (failing to pull your shoulder blades in to hug your spine)
  • Failure to bend the bar: Essentially this means that as you grip the barbell you should mimic bending the bar into a horseshoe like pattern. This will help with muscular activation and to assist you with the tracking of the bar path.
  • Failure to push your legs and feet firm to the ground
  • Failure to implement proper breathing with the Valsalva maneuver

Bench Press Technique: Proper Muscle Activation

A lack of muscle activation is a killer to executing a successful lift, or completing a successful set. When it comes to the bench press you must understand the movement is more associated with your upper body, but still very much involves a whole body effort.

For instance, if you look at the previous section where I mentioned the act of bending the bar this technique will actually force you to activate your lats (muscles of your back) as you go to press the bar.

By doing this you’re creating tension in your lats which in turn will stabilize your shoulder girdle which is vitally necessary to pull off the lift.

It’s pretty amazing to think the muscles of your back are actually involved with helping you to press the barbell. However this is absolutely effective.

In fact this is what is known as the irradiation principle.

The principle of irradiation states that when you have a muscle, or group of primary muscles performing a movement that the firing potential of those muscles is enhanced by the firing and activation of the surrounding muscles.

So in the case of your bench press you’re going to be stronger for it by activating your lats. However you’re also going to be stronger for the bench press by activating your grip. This will occur by crushing the bar, by bracing your core midsection, and by creating tension through your legs as you push through the ground!

You’re producing strength by increasing the effort throughout your body for the task of moving that bar!

Bench Press Technique: The Takeaway

I told you this would be fascinating stuff. This will absolutely transform your results for lifting not only for your bench press, but for every other major lift!

If you frequently experience muscle fatigue it could be due to the fact that you’re still developing strength and endurance for the movement. However it could also be due to you shutting off these other muscles and primarily trying to make the movement more strictly an “arm lift.”

Are you enhancing your muscles’ firing potential for the bench press the way you need to be? 

What are you doing now to improve your bench press? 

Post up and share here in the comments below. 

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I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

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