Bench Press Workout
Looking for some good bench press workout routines?
If you’re a gym rat, or if you’re starting to feel like one, then you know that a good bench press is the hallmark of achievement that bodybuilders seek. “What do you bench?” is probably the most often-asked question among lifters. Some people want to develop their chest musculature;these are the competitive bodybuilders. Others are just going for strength training. Either way, this is the definitive exercise for developing the chest you want.
What do you know about your anatomy?
The pectoralis major muscles dominate the chest. Your sternum is the breastbone that runs vertically down the center of your chest between your ribs. The pectoralis major muscles attach from this, on each side, and as far down as the sixth and seventh ribs. They fan outward and upward, ending as tendons that tuck into the groove of the biceps along the humerus, your upper arm bone.
The pectoralis minor muscles run beneath these muscles. They attach from the inner edges of the third through fifth ribs and run upward and outward, at a slightly higher angle. They also end in tendons, attached to a bony point called the coracoid process that sits in front of the scapula (shoulder blade) and below the clavicle (collarbone).
On our Exercises link, you can click to view our muscle anatomy chart. If you’re going to move it, you ought to know what it is!
How to Start
If you’re just getting into bench press workout routines, be aware that you always start this training with a barbell. Doing these kinds of exercises with dumbbells requires a little more stability and control, so work with the barbell until you develop it.
The first time you do a bench press workout, you should lift the bar without any weight on it at all. This is the best way to develop proper grip. If you place your hands too wide apart on the bar, some of your strength will be directed outward rather than pushing the bar straight up. And of course the opposite is true if your hands are too close together: You’ll direct your power inward. Ideally, your forearms will be as vertical as possible at the bottom of your reps.
Remember where your grip should be positioned and lie back. You’re going to go through this routine without any weights on the bar at first.
Before you lift, position your feet firmly on the floor on either side of the bench. Bend your knees to about 80 degrees. If you put your feet up on the bench, you will lose power and stability.
Place your palms on the bottom of the bar. Some lifters like to rotate the bar to get their palms into this position because it has a way of securing your shoulders to the flat surface. Use your thumbs to help stabilize the bar. You also want to contract your shoulder blades. Your abdominals should also be tight to maximize your control.
The Lifting Routine
You’ll inhale as you remove the bar from the rack and begin to lower it to your chest. Don’t snap it and don’t let it fall or bounce.
This is where your spotter’s help is of prime importance! Tell yourself that your muscles are absorbing all of the power from the bar that you’re lowering.
Let it just touch your chest, and then exhale and press upward. It’s also very effective to use your leg power to drive the bar upward. Let that absorbed power coil outward as you push the bar back up.
Try this entire maneuver without weights to get the hang of how it all comes together, and then you’re ready to get real on bench press workouts.
Once you’ve got the flat bench routine down, try some variations. For most lifters, if you’re doing your benches properly, your flat bench is going to be your most powerful lift. But try benching from an incline bench if you want to put some development into your shoulders. Use a decline bench if you want to advance to higher amounts of weight more quickly.
Progress With Dumbbells
As you gain strength with this bench press workouts, try switching from barbell to dumbbells. Lots of people like the increased range of motion these allow. Barbells are great for producing sheer mass, but dumbbells can lead to specific muscle development. As you develop your routine, you’ll become comfortable with what’s right for you; for example, you might want to avoid barbells on decline to protect your shoulders if you’ve had persistent pain there.
Speaking of shoulders, remember that man does not live by bench press workouts alone. If you want your bench to progress, you’ll have to strengthen your shoulders with barbell or dumbbell rows, lat pull-downs, and pull-ups. You can correct posture and strength with shoulder dislocation exercises and rear deltoid routines like lateral raises.
You can also guarantee your progress on the bench by making sure you work your forearms and strengthen your grip. Many people neglect these areas because they’re not obvious. But with regular finger curls you’ll boost the weight you can lift and the stability you exert when you lift it.
Good Bench Press Workout Routines - A Bonus
Besides the many downloadable workout programs we have that you can print and take to the gym, we also have a bench press chart (max 1-rep calculator). Check out this feature, pay attention to safety, and you’re on your way!
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