The bench press is one of the more popular exercises performed in the gym, and is certainly the one that people will brag about. Yet not everyone will perform this exercise properly, leading to various issues.
Read on to discover some of the more common bench press mistakes and how you can avoid them, leading you to experience better gains without the injuries.
Save those shoulders
If you perform your bench presses incorrectly then you may end up injuring yourself, which will seriously damage any attempt to gain muscle.
One of the biggest issues is flaring the elbows out, which can put a lot of strain onto your shoulder joints. This can potentially lead to rotator cuff injuries.
Luckily this is an easy thing to rectify, as you simply need to bring your elbows in to make a 45 degree angle with your armpit.
This simple change will bring the weight more towards your chest and will help to bring your triceps into play, therefore helping to assist your lifts.
Avoid the back arch
If you are hyper-extending your back while bench pressing then you could be putting your lower back under a great amount of stress that could lead to the crushing of your vertebrae.
The key to avoiding this over extension is just to lift naturally. Retract your shoulder blades down and back before you lay on the bench, you should have a small gap between your mid back and the bench, this is the natural position that you should aim to be in.
Are you lifting too much?
Why do we all tend to lift more than we can manage when we visit the gym? Is it an ego thing?
Unfortunately lifting too much can cause a loss of form that can raise the risk of injury.
My suggestion to you would be to stop worrying about what everyone else is lifting, just focus on yourself and using the proper form.
Of course you need to push yourself to see those gains but if you are unable to keep the proper technique of the bench press while lifting then perhaps it is time for you to lighten the load a little.
Think of it this way. Are you going to be gaining any muscle or strength while you lay in bed injured? I think not.
Work both sides
A tip to help improve your bench pressing would be to work both sides of your chest and arms by using a dumbbell instead of a barbell (unilateral instead of bilateral exercises).
It may come as a surprise to some of you that one side of your body may be stronger than the other (most likely the side you are most dominant with).
This imbalance may cause you to lift a barbell unevenly, which could stop you from increasing the weight of your lifts.
By working each side independently you will improve your strength overall. Doing so will ensure that you can push more evenly when performing the bench press.