Hey Angels and Alphas,
If there’s one exercise that has to be synonymous with strength training, it’s the classic bench press.
While it’s an excellent workout to build upper body strength, focusing on the chest, shoulders, triceps, and even engaging the legs and core, it’s essential to perform it correctly to avoid injuries.
Today, let’s talk about the five common mistakes to avoid ensuring that your bench press is safe and effective!
1. Neglecting Proper Warm-Up
Mistake: Jumping straight into heavy lifting without a proper warm-up.
Solution: Begin with dynamic stretches and light exercises to warm up the muscles you’ll be using. Start with a few minutes of light cardio, followed by arm circles, shoulder stretches, and perhaps some push-ups. Then, do a few sets of bench press with lighter weights to prepare your muscles for heavier lifting.
2. Incorrect Hand and Feet Placement
Mistake: Placing hands too close together or too far apart on the bar, and not planting feet firmly on the ground.
Solution: Position your hands so that they are shoulder-width apart or slightly more to ensure that your chest, and not just your triceps, are engaged. Your feet should be flat on the ground, providing stability and allowing you to generate power from your legs.
3. Ignoring the Bar Path
Mistake: Lowering the bar to the wrong part of the chest or pressing it up and away from the body.
Solution: The correct bar path is crucial for an effective and safe bench press. Lower the bar in a controlled manner to your mid-chest or just below your nipples. When pressing up, the bar should move back slightly towards your face, ending up over your shoulders at the top of the lift.
4. Forgetting to Engage the Whole Body
Mistake: Not utilizing leg drive and keeping the rest of the body passive during the lift.
Solution: The bench press is not just an upper body exercise; your whole body should be engaged. Plant your feet firmly on the ground and slightly arch your back, keeping your shoulder blades pinched together. This creates a stable base and allows for leg drive, which can help lift heavier weights safely.
5. Lifting Without a Spotter or Safety Setup
Mistake: Attempting to lift heavy weights without any safety measures in place.
Solution: Especially when lifting heavy or pushing your limits, always have a spotter who can assist if the weight becomes too challenging to lift. If a spotter is unavailable, set up safety bars or use a power rack to ensure that if you fail a lift, the bar won’t land on your chest.
Mastering the bench press requires attention to form, preparation, and safety. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure that your bench press routine is not only effective in building strength but also safe and sustainable. Always listen to your body, and don’t rush the process. With consistency and correct practice, progress will follow.