What was the first lift you learned when you started lifting weights? I bet it was the bench press – the exercise everybody brags with. Everyone wants to bench press big weights, but not everyone is willing to spend some time to learn the correct technique of bench pressing. If you are interested in lifting heavy weights here are some pointers to help you correct your pushing technique.
1.Grabbing the bar too wide. The position of your hand can make a tremendous difference when it comes to lifting big weights. Position your arms too wide or too narrow and you could loose anywhere from 15% to 40% of your strength. Why does this happen?
When lifting with wide grip the muscles involved in the lift are mainly the pectoral muscles and the triceps to some extent. When lifting with narrow grip the triceps and front delts are more involved than the pectoral muscles. So the grip width should be moderate for maximum power output, meaning the triceps, pecs and shoulders will be equally involved in the movement. How can you know what is the correct width? When touching the chest your forearms should be at exactly 90 degrees vertically.
2. Your bar should NOT move in a straight line. Watch any competing powerlifter and you’ll see what I mean. When racked on the bench, the bar should stand exactly over your eyes. When you lock your elbows in top position the bar should stand over your shoulders. The tricky part is the position of the bar when it touches your chest. This is where most beginners are making the mistake and lowering the barbell to the middle of the chest or even to their upper chest. If you want to lift big, the correct contact point is actually somewhere between your nipples and your diaphragm.
3. Your feet should touch the floor firmly. Yes, legs play a big role in pushing the weight. When your feet are firmly positioned on the floor you will be pushing with them too. You need to push your body into the bench. When the thighs push your body backwards against the bench, this results in force transfer upwards to the bar.
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4. The back has a part in bench pressing too. You may not believe it, but back ( especially the lats ) play a big role in pushing heavy weights. Well developed lats will help in controlling the negative portion of the rep as well as the start of the positive part. This is exactly why it’s important to have well developed back. To get your back’s help when bench pressing you need to squeeze the shoulders back and down and maintain this position throughout the lift.