For many of us, the bench press tends to be a movement that frequently causes discomfort in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. Or is a movement that we have trouble feeling activate our chest. Most of these problems are due to our individual anatomy, as the way that our bones are structured and muscles are aligned will affect how exactly our bench press technique should look. A less experienced, taller individual with longer arms and a relatively flatter chest will have a bench press setup (e.g. grip width) that looks quite different than a more experienced, shorter individual with shorter arms and a bigger well-developed chest. If one tried to copy the other simply because it felt “good” for the other person, they would likely end up with aches and pains over time. And not be stimulating their chest as well as they could be if they tweaked their bench pressing form based on their individual anatomy. In this video, we’ll show you how to do the bench press according to your anatomy in 3 easy steps.
A disclaimer: the bench press is not absolutely necessary for you to do. For some individuals it’s a great, effective movement at growing the chest and the overall upper body musculature. Whereas for others, it’s just not the best exercise for their structure especially since the barbell forces you into a fixed hand position. So if your main goal is to build muscle, just realize that you can accomplish this just as effectively with other exercises like machine presses, dumbbells, and even push-ups if properly progressed. But, before you actually make that decision, run through the following 3 steps.
The first thing you need to do about your bench pressing form is determine what elbow angle is going to best activate your chest while minimizing any discomfort as you press. Align your elbow angle with where the majority of your chest fibres run. This will vary for each individual. For most people, an elbow angle of somewhere around 45 degrees to about 70 degrees will best line up with and activate their chest fibers when they press while being safest on the shoulders. Play around within this range to see what feels best. You can also experiment using and play around with the elbow position. A lower elbow angle may bias more of your upper chest fibers, whereas a more flared out elbow angle biases more of your mid and lower chest fibers.
It’s now time to set up your bench press grip width to enable you to actually use that elbow angle as you press. The way you do this is by ensuring that at the bottom of the press, your forearms are vertical with your elbows stacked directly under wrists, both from the front view and the side view. If in step 1 you chose an elbow angle that’s tucked a bit more to around 45 degrees, then you’ll have to use a more narrow grip. Whereas if you chose a more flared out elbow angle step 1, then you’ll need to use a slightly wider grip. Play around with different grip widths, take a look at your forearms at the bottom position, and record yourself from the front and side view to double check that they’re aligned.
The last thing you want to refine in your bench press technique is to ensure you maintain at least some degree of an arch in your upper back. This helps activate more of chest, specifically the mid and lower fibers, by putting them in a better aligned position to do work while also keeping your shoulders in a safer position. But as for how much of an arch you should use, this will depend on your individual chest fibers, the structure of your sternum, and the overall size of your chest as well. Generally, most people will get the best activation somewhere between an arch that isn’t completely flat against the bench, but also isn’t as exaggerated as a powerlifter’s arch for example. So again, play around with it to find the optimal position.
And there you have it. You now know how to do the bench press for more gains – and fewer injuries. Go through this step by step process, experiment with it, and find what works best for you and your body. If you want to build muscle as effectively as possible while minimizing your risk of injury, then you need to not only pick the right exercises but also ensure that you set up and execute them in the right way and in a way that’s based on your individual structure. For a step-by-step program that does just that for you, by showing you exactly how to train and how to eat week after week so that you can transform your specific body as fast as scientifically possible, then take the analysis quiz to discover which science-based program would be best for you and where your body is currently at below:
Subscribe to my channel here:
MUSIC: Lakey Inspired