By Eric Broser
Take a look inside almost any gym on a Monday night and it is likely that you will see at least 80% of the guys training chest, with most of them hitting set after set on the BB Bench Press. For most, chest seems to act as the weekly “lead off” muscle group, usually paired up with a smaller body part like biceps or triceps. Without a doubt most iron warriors desire a big pair of pecs because they carry with them a look of raw power and the mark of a “bodybuilder.” However, while the Bench Press can certainly be your ticket to a Schwarzenegger-like chest, what many trainees fail to realize is that it is not a simple as lying on a bench, unracking the bar, and pushing it from point A to B. In order to properly and forcefully engage the pec-fibers, proper body positioning, range of motion, and performance technique must be meticulously adhered to. With that in mind, here are 7 bench-pressing-parameters for maximum pec-pounding!
- Too Much Weight: Too many people are concerned with how much weight they can bench press for a single rep rather than for sets of 7-12, which is where muscle growth tends to be best stimulated. Unless you are a powerlifter, stop maxing out every time you bench, and rather focus on exhausting the muscle.
- Feet in the Wrong Place: For some reason some lifters think that putting their feet up on the bench is more effective for building the chest than placing them flat on the floor. While this technique does have its uses, it is best to keep a solid base when pressing so that the majority of “neural drive” can be centered on pec-fiber recruitment.
- Improper Torso Positioning: One of the most vital aspects of bench pressing to increase pec mass is proper positioning of the torso from the beginning to the end of each set. In order to force the chest to do the majority of the work on every rep you must a) Keep your ribcage up high; b) Keep a slight arch in the lower back; c) Keep the scapulae squeezed together; d) Keep the shoulders shrugged down and into the bench.
- Incorrect Grip: For maximum engagement of the chest during the bench press it is best to space the hands about shoulder with, or just slightly wider, apart.
- Bouncing the Bar: Why anyone thinks it is smart to bounce the bar off of the ribcage is beyond me. Even if this allows you to put more weight on the bar, it is obvious to everyone that you are using momentum, and not muscle strength, to complete the lift. In addition, this practice is only robbing you of the potential benefits of the bench press while greatly increasing the chance for serious injury.
- Poor Rep Tempo: If you want to get the most profound-pec-pump from the bench press you must control the bar at all times. I recommend that you lower the weight over 3-4 seconds, hold the stretch position for 1 second, and then explosively press to the top.
- Shortened Range of Motion: Almost as bad as bouncing the bar off the chest is the inane practice of performing half-reps on the bench press. You want massive pecs to be proud of? Then lower the bar to full stretch (which for most people will mean lightly touching the bar to the chest or to a point just slightly above) to excite every fiber, and then press the bar straight up to lockout, while consciously squeezing the pecs into a tight contraction.
Train hard and train smart!
-CEO B Built International www.b-built.net
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-Natural Professional Bodybuilder/Judge/Advisory Board Member
-Columnist @ Iron Man/Planet Muscle/Natural Muscle/www.muscleandfitness.com
-Creator of the PRRS, FDFS and O-Bey-6 Training Systems