The Importance of Bench Press in Powerlifting
Exercise is very important, but with so many different types of workouts, some people wonder what the best one is. You can answer that question easily when you walk into any type of gym and see that no matter where it’s located or who the gym-goers are, there’s one piece of equipment you’ll certainly find.
That, of course, is a bench located underneath a secured barbell, just waiting for the next person who is going to bench press. When it comes to powerlifting, bench pressing is not only popular but also very beneficial as it’s one of the top 3 powerlifting exercises.
Let’s take a closer look at why it’s so important.
Benefits of bench press
There are many reasons why you need to incorporate this exercise into your routine, and some of the benefits you will see include:
- Increasing your upper-body strength. Your chest muscles will benefit the most from doing this exercise and even though you will probably feel the pain in your chest muscles when you start out, it’s perfectly normal. After some time, your upper body will gain more strength.
- Getting more muscle strength overall. Your chest muscles aren’t the only ones that will get some exercise in, as bench pressing benefits your arm and back muscles as well.
- Improving your physical appearance. Bench pressing is not only good for strength training, but it will also cause you to become more ripped and have a toned body. You will be able to get rid of that unwanted flab and be one step closer to having the perfect beach body.
- Improving your bone health. This isn’t a well-known fact, but this exercise actually uses compound movements that promote bone health. Many people bench press to help their bones regain their natural health and some even believe that exercise can help treat osteoporosis.
How to bench press properly?
Before you can even start to bench press, you’re going to need a dedicated bench press station if you want to do the exercise properly. If you don’t have a station, you can use a padded bench, squat rack, or a compact bench press bundle.
- Lay on the bench so your eyes are under the bar and you’re ready to begin.
- Raise your chest up and pull your shoulder blades into your back pockets so they’re squeezed together.
- Then, grab the bar with your hands so they’re a bit wider than shoulder-width apart, place your feet on the ground so they’re shoulder-width apart, and slightly arch your back.
- Lock your elbows out to unrack the bar and push it off the hooks. With your arms still locked, lift the bar horizontally until it’s placed directly over your shoulders.
- Now you can start to descend. With your elbows in a tucked position and in place, slowly lower the bar to your chest, just over your nipples. Make sure the bar moves in a straight line down and just touches your chest but doesn’t bounce off it.
- Once that’s done, you’re ready to ascend. Keep your elbows tucked, your shoulder blades down and pinched, your butt on the bench, and your feet on the flow with a slightly arched back. Slowly lift the bar up towards your shoulders diagonally and finish directly over your shoulders, where you began.
Most common bench press mistakes
Bench pressing can be dangerous if you don’t use a reliable bench press bundle and make the following mistakes:
- Low bar. When racking and unracking your bar, make sure the path isn’t low over the mouth. Never move the bar low across the neck and fact, instead move the weight to and from the rack with your arms extended.
- Improper width of grip. When you grip the bar, it needs to be wide enough so your forearms are in a perpendicular plane and your elbow joints sit at right angles.
- Locking your elbows too suddenly. Even though many people will advise you to never lock-out your elbows, there is actually no danger in this as long as you don’t do it too suddenly.
- Not positioning your thumbs properly. Your thumbs need to be placed under the bar when you grip it and at the top of your fingers.
- Pushing your head into the bench. Your head needs to be on the bench at all times just like the feet need to be flat on the floor for stability. However, that doesn’t mean you need to push your head onto the bench. Instead, simply firm up your neck muscles to assist the lift.
- Arching your back and lifting your buttocks. If you arch your back and lift your buttocks off the bench, you will probably experience low back pain.
Are heavier weights or more reps better when bench pressing?
Many people wonder whether they need to use heavy weights while bench pressing or add more reps to their routine. The answer to this question depends on what your workout goals are.
If you want to improve muscle endurance, it’s better to exercise with more reps but less weight. But if your goal is to increase muscle size and strength, use heavier weights but fewer reps.
Everyone is different and a personal trainer will be able to create a workout plan that works best for you, but you can try this depending on your goals:
- If you’re looking to lose weight, do one to three sets with a weight that leaves you fatigued after ten to twelve reps.
- If you’re looking to gain muscle, do three or more sets with a weight you’re able to do six to eight reps with before you feel fatigued. If you’re a beginner, you’ll need to work up to this level.
- If you’re looking to build endurance and health, do one to three sets with a weight that leaves you feeling fatigued after twelve to sixteen reps.
Shoulder pain on the bench press, how long to recover?
Shoulder pain can occur when bench pressing due to a strain of the rotator cuff muscles, which are a set of four muscles that move your shoulder. Luckily, there are different exercises you can do depending on how bad the injury is and how long the recovery process lasts:
- Shoulder external rotation
- Scaption raise
- 90/90 shoulder external rotation to overhead press
- Chest and overhead press with kettlebells
- Chest and overhead press with dumbbells
- Chest and overhead press with barbell
It’s impossible to say how long the recovery process will last, as it’s different from person to person, but it can take anywhere between a few days and a couple of weeks if the injury is not serious.
How to keep the chest tendon injury-free while training heavy bench press?
The best way to prevent chest tendon injuries is to do the following:
- Warm-up before exercises to prepare your nerves and muscles for heavy weight lifting.
- Make sure you have a high enough intake of protein that’s enough for your height and weight.
- Sleep for at least 7 to 8 hours a night after a day of bench pressing.
- Have a break of at least 48 hours between bench press sessions.
- Decrease the eccentric portion of the repetition slowly and in a highly controlled manner.
Whether you work out in a gym or at home, the bench press is an exercise that you shouldn’t ignore. In fact, if you only have time for one exercise during the day, this is the one you should choose. With all of the benefits it has, it’s impossible to find one reason why you shouldn’t bench press.
However, keep in mind that you need to be smart about how you exercise so as not to make any bench press mistakes. Also, always make sure to have good equipment such as this power tower. And finally, never give up and you’ll have the body of your dreams.