The bench press has always been a competitive exercise, whether it be in the gym or at top events like power lifting competitions. I have spent many years in the gym working on increasing my own personal bench press record, but if you plan on continuing to work on your personal best, you need to spend some time priming your muscles and warming them up thoroughly so that you don’t suffer injuries that may set you back in the years to come.
Today’s subject I will be talking about bench press techniques and 5 ways to incorporate them, from the standard bench press, inclined benches, declined benches and dumbbell benches, I will be covering them and techniques that you can apply to add muscle and increase your benching power as well as keeping safe about it.
Injuries from benching too much when the muscles are not thoroughly warmed up enough don’t always necessarily come in the form of chest tears but can result in shoulder injuries, as with any body part needs to have a thorough warm up, the bench press is one of those moves that many people try to push themselves to the max with single repetitions and then pay for it from neglecting a good warm up.
The standard bench press
Bench pressing has always been the mainstay for muscle and strength building moves for the chest and with a wide range of bench pressing variations the standard flat bench variation works the overall chest.
So if the standard bench press works the overall chest, then why do I need to incorporate all these other variations of the bench press into my workout program? because even though the standard bench press works the overall chest, the other variations put extra emphasis on other key areas of your chest.
Its best to incorporate a wide variety of exercises so that you can target the whole picture, for example the standard bench press works the overall chest but when it comes to your upper chest even though the bench press may work the overall chest, it’s still hitting the upper chest to a limited degree.
So if you include the standard bench press into your workouts all the time and even though they may be an exercise that is said to work the overall chest, you still might be lagging behind in upper chest development so it would be a good idea to include inclined bench presses in your workout.
When performing the standard bench press, keep your feet flat on the floor, don’t lift your butt of the bench when pressing the weight up, use a slightly wider than shoulder width grip, use full range of motion and don’t bounce the weight off your chest and it’s always a good idea to have a spotter when benching heavy.
For building muscle size it’s best to follow a rep range of 8-10, for developing strength in your bench press it’s best to follow a rep range of 1-5, if the goal your shooting for is endurance it’s best to follow a rep range of 15-20.
Inclined bench presses
As discussed in the standard bench press heading above, the inclined bench press works the upper pectoral’s. The inclined bench presses are a great way to make your upper chest stand out, especially if your upper chest muscles are lagging behind and you need to bring them out more for better symmetry.
As with the standard bench press, in following good form with the inclined benches you will need to keep your feet flat on the floor, your butt on the bench, lifting your butt of the bench while pressing the weight up would be considered cheating, use a slightly wider than shoulder width grip and always use full range of motion and never bouncing the weight off your chest.
Rep range follows course as with the standard bench presses, 8-10 for size, 1-5 for strength and 15-20 for endurance.
Declined bench presses
Declined benches are a great exercise for developing the lower portion of the chest. Declined benches as well as the standard and inclined benches can be performed with dumbbells as well, their great for those days when you feel like switching things around a bit to keep your workouts fresh.
As stated earlier the standard bench press works the overall chest to a degree, it’s a good idea to take inventory of weak areas, if your lower pectoral muscles are looking a little underdeveloped you might want to incorporate declined benches into your workout.
Another good idea is to switch the order of your exercises around and not always doing the same exercise first. Many people feel because the standard bench press is the best exercise for overall development of the chest they always like to do the benches first in their workouts but if you have an area that is lagging like your lower chest it would be a good idea to include the declined benches first in your workout when you have the most energy.
For proper form when doing the declined benches your feet should be kept flat on the floor, your butt on the bench and no bouncing the weight of your chest, use a slightly wider than shoulder width grip, lower the bar slowly with full control until the bar touches your chest and then forcefully pushing the bar upwards.
Rep range should be 8-10 for muscle size, 1-5 for strength and 15-20 for endurance. When the weight you are using starts getting a bit to light and you start to go over the recommended rep range, gradually increase the weight you have been working with so that you stay within your target rep range.
Narrow grip benches
Narrow grip benches target the central region of your chest and you will also get more triceps action when performing the narrow grip benches. You won’t be able to use as much weight when performing this exercise but if you are working with a weight that makes doing these a challenge it would be a good idea to have a spotter.
Likewise with the narrow grip benches, if the central region of your chest is a little underdeveloped it would be a good idea to perform the narrow grip benches first in your workout to keep your chest development proportionate.
When performing the narrow grip benches the same follows with good form as with the other variations of the bench press, keep your feet flat on the floor, your butt on the bench and always use good form letting the bar touch your chest and never bouncing the weight.
Rep range for narrow grip benches should go as follows, 8-10 for muscle size, 1-5 for strength and 15-20 for endurance.
Dumbbell benches are a great variation that you can do in place of barbell benches or to supplement along with barbell benches. The dumbbell benches are great because you have more versatility in your range of motion.
When performing the dumbbell benches, the dumbbells come to the sides of your chest in the lower portion of the move and at the top of the move you rotate your wrists, bring the dumbbells together so that they touch and squeeze your chest muscles.
Dumbbell benches can be performed with different variations, instead of rotating your wrists so that your palms are facing each other and touching the dumbbells together, you can press the dumbbells up so that they come just slightly narrower than shoulder width keeping palms facing away.
Another variation to the dumbbell benches is a way that I don’t see a lot of people using is the reverse grip dumbbell benches, this method you maintain your palms in position facing in back of you, this variation will stress your chest muscles in a different fashion targeting more so the lower region of your chest muscles.
When performing the dumbbell benches some people raise their knees up and cross their lower legs which I don’t see as harming anything. Barbell benches are performed with a much heavier weight and keeping your feet on the floor will help to keep you more stabilized when pushing a heavier weight.
When performing the dumbbell benches the work load is lighter so keeping your feet on the floor for stabilization purposes isn’t quite so necessary, the same would be true for barbell benches if you are working with a lighter weight, the feet on the floor rule also applies to competitive benching.
Follow good form when doing the dumbbell benches, follow full range of motion touching the dumbbells to your chest and pressing the dumbbells till your arms are fully extended.
Rep range for the dumbbell presses would go as follows, 8-12 for muscle size, 1-5 for strength and 15-20 for endurance.
When setting up a chest training program I wouldn’t combine all of these benching exercises into one workout, you would only need to use three of them in one workout combined with one other exercise like the pec-decks or cable crossovers.
If you are new to resistance training I would recommend just using one of the benching exercises paired with dumbbell flyers. After you have six months of training experience in you can add on a second benching exercise for a total of three exercises for chest per workout.
If your training goals are for losing weight and you are training with higher reps and are interested in supplementing your diet, click on my link for Promera burn.
If you are working on packing on more muscle and would like to supplement your diet for further muscle growth, click on my link for Concrete.
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave a comment below.