Are you doing it correctly?
The bench press is a common free weight exercise used mostly by the male population at gyms and is one of the commonly avoided exercises by the female population – so why should you bench press?
What muscles does the bench press work?
Despite the bench press looking like it only works the upper body, it is in fact a full body lift. It mainly works the upper body muscles however to bench press with good technique the abdominal, buttock and leg muscles should all be engaged to provide a stable base of support for the lift.
- Pectoralis muscles (chest)
- Anterior deltoids (front of shoulder)
- Latissimus dorsi (upper back muscles)
- Triceps brachii (back of the arms)
The shoulder blades are a very small base of support for your arms (they have the same essential role as the pelvis for the legs). It is a ball and socket joint with a shallow socket on the shoulder blade and big ball at the top of your arm bone. As a result, more work has to be done to ensure strength in the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint. Combining the bench press with shoulder stability exercises will help to maintain a healthy shoulder joint.
3 benefits of the bench press
- Builds power for better sports performance – upper body strength for many sports including rugby, basketball, baseball and tennis
- Improves upper body bone density – as we age our bones degenerate however resistance exercises can slow down the onset of osteoporosis
- Gets rid of your ‘tuck shop’ arms – the bench press helps to tone your arms muscles
Bench Press Technique
- Set your shoulders
- Tuck your elbows
- Grip the bar relative to your mechanics (to achieve alignment in picture at step 2) – this may mean widening or bringing in your grip and adjusting where the bar lowers to on your chest (around nipple height)
- The bar path is NOT straight down and up
- Get tight! Squeeze your butt cheeks and legs pressing down into floor
- Failure to set shoulder blades
- Failure to get tight
- Flaring elbows
Queues: Hold pencil between shoulder blades and tuck it into your back pocket
Control down and EXPLODE up
How can physiotherapy help you?
- Improve strength
- Improve fitness
- Ensure correct technique is being used in your day to day fitness regime to avoid injury