5 Hard Truths You Need To Hear About The Bench Press

bench-press-thruths
23 Jul

Go to your favorite box gym on any Monday, and you’ll see a trend that isn’t going anywhere: people lining up for the barbell flat bench like it’s a cattle call. It’s just one of those things. No matter how much strength coaches shout about the importance of other movements like squats, overhead presses, and deadlift variations, the bench press will probably remain the most glamourized movement in the gym.

Is this a bad thing? A good thing? Let’s just say…it’s a thing. That means its value, as ever, depends on what you do with it, and how you manage to (hopefully) avoid jacking yourself up with it.

Truth 1: It's Not The Best Chest Developer

It’s unavoidable: people hear “bench press,” and they think “chest.” In truth, the flat barbell bench press is only partially effective in taxing the chest fibers. And since the movement is guided by a barbell with a fixed hand and elbow position, it demands plenty of contribution from other muscles, like the front delts and triceps. Even if you put your feet up on the bench and do all the other classic bro stuff, this is never going to be an effective isolation move.

Don’t get us wrong—you’ll still get your pump fix if you train in the right rep ranges and use the right loads to stimulate. But a heavy bench press is more of an upper-body strength move, and less of a chest sculptor. Come to terms with it.

What this means for you: If you want a big chest, do plenty of chest-focused movements like flyes and squeeze presses, but also high-rep push-up finishers. When you bench heavy, treat it as a strength move. Aim for heavy triples rather than singles, control your pace, and incorporate strategic pauses.

Truth 3: It's Not The Most Complete Test Of Upper-Body Strength

Plenty of lifters want to have a strong bench in order to impress someone. But no matter who you’re looking to “wow,” there’s plenty wrong with using the bench as a test lift.

For example, you may be able to lift more weight on the bench than, say, a strict overhead press, but there are also plenty more ways to “cheat” on the bench. Using a bizarrely high arch or stopping short of a full range of motion are two common flaws. Lifting the hips off the bench for assistance is another. Being honest with your technique is a humbling experience, and there’s hardly any room for this when standing upright.

Moreover, the bench press targets less of the upper-body musculature than the overhead press. There’s no doubt it hits the chest, and also the triceps and front deltoids. But, there’s very little stress placed on the spine at all, meaning the muscles of the trunk, like the abdominals and obliques, don’t have to become too involved for a successful lift to be completed.

What this means for you: “How much ya bench” tells me far less about you as a lifter than “how much ya strict press?” You might see more bang for your training buck by focusing on overhead work as a gauge of strength, and using horizontal press variations like close-grip bench work as a triceps-focused accessory move. When you can strict press more than 200 pounds for a smooth triple,g revisit your bench and don’t be surprised if it’s actually grown.

Truth 4: Not All Cues Work For All Benchers

We all know that lifters trade technique cues like baseball cards. But, something that works for a seriously strong-ass bencher may not work for someone who’s not at that level yet. An example is the classic “pull the bar apart” cue.

We recommend squeezing in on the bar—provided it doesn’t mean your scapula get unlocked. Scandalous, right? No, that won’t be the best cue for everyone either. For some people, pulling apart is definitely the right cue. But not everyone.

What it means for you: Don’t just blindly follow a cue and expect it to work! Shop around, and don’t be afraid to try something completely different than what someone way, way stronger than you advocates—once you’ve got your basic form locked down tight, that is.

Truth 5: Benching Right Demands A Complicated, Precise Set-Up

I hope you don’t interpret this article as us telling you not to bench. Really, We’re just trying to tell you that when you bench, you really need to focus on doing it right with every rep of every set. Compared to a move like the deadlift, benching can seem pretty straightforward, but in actuality, it’s every bit as complicated, and demands just as much attention to set-up.

Here’s the checklist you need to do for every rep. Don’t skip a single step!

  • Back position: Your head, upper back, and butt should be in contact with the bench. A flat lower back is counterproductive in the case of this lift, and keeps you from being able to lock your shoulders in a safe position. Keep space under that lumbar!
  • Hand position: Personally, I like a slightly narrower grip than most people bench with. As I say in the video, I’ll aim for the pinky fingers on the rings of the barbell. You may go slightly wider or narrower based on your proportions, but avoid flaring the elbows out too far away from your body—even when your goal is a heavy low-rep set. Use a grip width that allows the forearm to stay vertical and perpendicular to the floor, keeping the elbows right under the wrists. Yes, you’ll be able to bench less in this narrow width than if you went super wide with the elbows flared. No, I don’t care.
  • Foot position: Pull your feet in to about a 90-degree angle at the knee, or slightly tighter. This will allow you to press your feet into the ground solidly to help drive the bar away from you.
  • Bar path: You don’t want a straight line—that’s too rough on the elbows and shoulders. Pushing backward, or slightly toward the rack, is a far more natural motion for your shoulders. If you’re someone with longer arms, you may need a contact point on the torso that’s a bit lower than normal to achieve the right arm angle relative to the body.
  • Shoulder blades: Remember to keep the shoulders back through the entire lift! That means during the lockout in rep 1, and still there in reps 8, 10, 12, and onward. This will shorten the amount you can lock out, but will ultimately protect your shoulders from injury.

You’ve heard our piece. Now go bench—and do it right!

4 Tips to Get Your Best Chest Ever

chest-tips
23 Jul

Not that we don’t love training everything in our split (yeah, even legs), but man, there’s nothing like chest day. Combine a prominent muscle group that tends to develop quickly with the primal feel of lying back and pressing a heavy weight, and you’ve got yourself a fun day at the gym.

Even so, we can all use as much advice and guidance as we can get on crafting our pecs to their true potential. That’s where these five tips come in. They cover everything from the best way to start your workout (hint: it’s not benching) to unique exercises you may never have heard of before. Armed with these tips, your chest workouts should be more effective than ever.

1. Start With A Fly, Not A Press

Starting chest workouts with a press seems intuitive, and it often becomes a habit. The thing is, though, doing flyes first makes more sense. Flyes gives you a deep stretch at the bottom and a high-quality contraction at the top, and the concentration involved in maintaining your form activates your mind-muscle connection right off the bat.

This isolation movement also pulls plenty of blood into the muscle, priming your pump. As for which fly you should do, just about any variation will work, from dumbbells at any bench angle, to cables, to a TRX Suspension Trainer, to the pec-deck machine.

Or, consider one of these unique fly variations:

Svend Press: This exercise is not about the weight. It’s about squeezing your arms together and forcefully contracting your pectorals as you press your hands together. With that in mind, go light; don’t try 45s, or even 10s, but start with 2-1/2 or 5-pound plates until you feel a contraction from your outer pecs to the middle of your chest with each rep. As a starting point, try 5-8 reps for 2-3 sets, holding the contraction for 10 seconds, then expanding that time over the following weeks and months.

Bodyweight Fly: This exercise will rock your pecs and your core. You’ll need some floor space and dumbbells or barbells that allow the plates to spin. If you don’t have access to either of those, use gliding discs or towels on a smooth floor.

To begin, get into a push-up position with your hands on the barbells or dumbbells (or discs or towels) instead of the floor, then slowly allow them to roll out to the sides as you lower your torso to the floor. When you get as low as you can handle, reverse the motion, flexing your pecs throughout to maintain control of your ascent and descent.

2. Press At Many Angles

The chest will develop exactly how you stimulate it, which is exactly why so many guys who do nothing but the flat bench walk around with thick middle pecs and flat-as-a-board upper pecs. It’s a bad look, but easily rectified by a steady dose of incline and decline presses.

If you’re working with a typical adjustable bench, you have more options at your disposal than you might assume, with every click higher or lower giving you a new angle to press from. (The difference between a 45-degree and a 30-degree incline is significant when it comes to muscle-fiber stimulation.) As you adjust the bench, keep one factor in mind: The higher the angle, the more the front delts fire. So, to help keep the focus on the pecs, pull down your shoulder blades and expand your chest as you rep.

 

Outside of the typical incline, flat, and decline barbell and dumbbell presses, here’s a unique variation to consider:

Single-Arm Flat Dumbbell Press: The typical press involves both arms, which allows you to handle more weight. This is a good thing, of course, but isolateral (i.e., single arm) presses have their value as well. Doing presses one arm at a time helps balance development between a stronger and weaker side, while also changing how the muscles fire (meaning more overall stimulation). As a bonus, doing the press isolaterally engages your core, too.

To begin this exercise, hold two dumbbells in the down position, then do your reps one arm at a time. Either alternate arms with each rep or do all your reps per set for one arm, then switch to the other arm.

3. Hold It To Hit It

As a rule, doing reps involves establishing a cadence by keeping the weight constantly moving at an even pace. You can also do one-second pauses at the peak contraction—or go a little crazier and do isometric holds. Try holding a contraction for 15-30 seconds. If you’re totally nuts, just hold on until you can’t hold on any longer.

Doing the isometric cable iron cross is a good way to subject yourself to some serious pec punishment. Perform a set of cable cross-overs per usual. At the end of the set, return your arms to the up position, loosen your grip on the handles and count to five. Now tighten your grip and pull the handles down to the finish position and hold them there for as long as you can. Leave just enough energy in the tank to be able to return to the starting position without the weights crashing down onto the stacks.

4. Put The Weight Of Your Own Body To Work

The push-up and dip are basic moves, but that doesn’t limit their effectiveness. Either one makes a great workout warm-up or finisher, and with some alterations, they can become extremely intense. Consider push-ups: You can elevate your feet on a step or bench to emphasize the upper pecs, or put your hands on a step or bench, with your feet on the floor, to hit the lower pecs. To add resistance, wear a weighted vest or wrap a resistance band around your back while holding the ends in each hand.

During a rep, you can also play with the tempo, slowing down or doing explosive ups, a technique in which your hands leave the floor (much like a clap push-up). You can even do multiple styles at once in one vicious dropset finisher: Start doing push-ups with your feet elevated to failure, then bring your feet down and do normal push-ups. When you hit failure again, put your knees on the floor and try to get a few more reps. Finally, stand up, lean against a wall, and go until you can’t go anymore.

 

Another finishing option? If you’re getting bored with regular push-ups, the following variant will help you dial in your pecs.

Clock Push-Up: Perform a traditional push-up, then rotate your body to the right in a clockwise direction using your hips as the pivot point. Perform another push-up, and rotate again. If you start at what would be the 12 on a clock, the next position would be 1, then 2, and so on until you make your way all the way around and end up facing the same direction as you started. For an added challenge, “hop” your body into position each time. On the second round, go in a counterclockwise direction, rotating to the left instead of to the right on each rep.

When it comes to dips, you target the chest by leaning forward instead of keeping your torso straight up and down, which works the triceps more than the chest. Once you’re proficient in bodyweight dipping, start adding weight. You can either use a weighted vest, a dip belt with plates attached, or get gnarly and hang some chains around your neck.

The 3 Easiest Tips To Build A Big Chest Fast

tips-for-chest
23 Jul

You can’t consider yourself a seriously-buff dude if your upper body exists in only two dimensions. You need to add some dept

h to that torso, and Brandon White knows just how to do it.

Take these three tips and plug them directly into the workout you’re doing now, or even better, use them in Meetyourfit.com Chest Workouts

Tip 1: Pack The Back To Focus On The Front

Many muscle groups are involved in the pressing motion—pecs, triceps, and anterior delts most prominently—so if you want to build a bigger chest, you have to do what you can to make sure that particular muscle group is doing as much of the work as possible.

Many lifters try to remedy this by putting their feet up on the bench, but there’s an easier way that allows you to move more weight. It’s as simple as pulling the shoulders back—way back—and arching the chest up nice and high.

“When I say isolate, I’m not meaning this is an isolation exercise,” Brandon says.

After all, the bench press is about as compound as they come, right?

Instead, he says, “You’re going to help work and concentrate on that chest by pulling those shoulders back and keeping them nice and tight—that way the chest is going to do most of the work.”

When your shoulders roll forward, the anterior delts take over. This means the chest deactivates and doesn’t get the full benefit of the exercise. Yes, this sounds easy, but be warned: You really have to concentrate throughout the range of motion to isolate the chest. If you don’t, all the pressing in the world won’t help you build your chest.

Coincidentally, this cue will also help you move the most weight on the bench, and also make it as shoulder friendly as possible. You’re welcome.

Tip 2: Stop Clinking Those Dumbbells!

Buff lifters around the world know that time under tension is one of the singular keys for muscle growth. Plenty of wannabe-buff lifters know it too, but struggle to actually put it into practice. Here’s how to make it work for your chest.

Brandon demonstrates how to use time under tension while performing the incline dumbbell chest fly, pausing just before his arms reach the top.

As he explains, “when you reach the top, it’s actually going to deactivate the muscle because there’s not really any tension on the muscle itself anymore because it’s not going through any kind of motion or contraction.”

In other words, it’s a mini rest period that you haven’t earned yet.

Pausing just before the muscle stops working at the top of the exercise maintains that constant tension you need to grow those pecs. That may not sound like a major change, but it is. To see just how different it is, do a set where you go all the way to 100 percent contraction, and another where you stop at 85-90 percent. Even though the latter is a shorter ROM, it should feel far more difficult.

 

Time under tension can be boosted in any chest exercise, including the bench press.

“When you complete the range of motion and lock out, the chest doesn’t have any tension on it because everything is locked out,” explains Brandon. “Once you start bending your elbows, immediately the chest has to activate to control the weight.”

By keeping the primary muscle group active, you take full advantage of every exercise and stimulate your chest to get bigger, faster.

Tip 3: Make Your Triceps A Higher Priority

There’s a reason why chest and triceps are so commonly trained together in training splits. If you really want to build your front, the backs of your arms will have plenty to say about how hard you can push it.

“In any kind of pressing motion, the triceps are going to be a pretty big secondary muscle group. If you’re hitting that bench press pretty hard, and you’re trying to go up in weight, building that strength, and you hit a plateau—it might not be your chest—it might be your triceps.”

 

His solution for bigger chest gains? Don’t forget to work your triceps. Every bit of size and strength you add there will pay off big-time. So even if you’re already training arms elsewhere in the week, don’t be afraid to add extra work, or even an extra session, focusing on moves like these:

  • Skull-crusher
  • Rope extension
  • Close-grip bench
  • Triceps dip (body upright, elbows tight to body)
  • French press

Need more ideas? The Buff Dudes even created a video about five forgotten triceps exercises that will help you overload those horseshoes. That way, they won’t hold you back from building that double-barreled Buff Dudes-sized chest.

5 Best at Home Exercises for Bigger Chest Muscles

at-home-chest-workout
11 Jul

Want to build chest muscles but don’t have time to go to the gym? Here are our top 5 picks for Best At Home Exercises For Bigger Chest Muscles

Step 1 : Place your feet on a bench or any elevated step and get into a standard pushup position.  

Step 2 : Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor, pause then push yourself back to the starting position. Maintain proper form throughout by preventing your hips from Sagging at any point,  keep your core stiff by bracing your abdominal muscles and straighten your legs while placing your weight on your toes.

Step 1 : Position yourself in push up position but ensure that your hands are placed farther in front and wider that your shoulders. Raise our hips as you move your feet forward as far as possible. keep your back and legs straight throughout the movement.

Step 2 : Move your chest downward and forward until nearly touching the floor. Your shoulders should be inline with your hands. Pause, then push out your hips downward and straighten your arms. Pause again, then revers the movement until you’ve come back to the starting position.

Step 1 : Place your hands on a bench and get into a standard push up position.

Step 2 . Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the bench. Pause, then push yourself back to the starting position. Maintaining proper form throughout by preventing your hips from sagging at any point. Keep your core stiff by bracing your abdominal muscles and straighten your legs while your weight on your toes. Then repeat.

Step 1 : Get down on all fours and place your hands on the floor so that they are slightly wider than your shoulders. Cross your ankles behind you.

 

Step 2 : Lower body until your chest nearly touches the ground. Pause, then push yourself back to the starting position. Keep your core stiff by bracing your abdominal muscles 

Step 1 : Assume the standard push-up positions : prone, feet together, hands on the floor just below the level of your shoulders about shoulders’ width apart. Move your feet apart, a little more than shoulders’ width.

Step 2 : Lift one hand and rest it on the small of your back.

Step 3 : Using the other hand, push your body up from the floor, keeping your back straight. Stop just before you “lock out” your elbow at the top of the movement. 

Step 4 : Lower your body with the one arm. To maintain your balance, turn your torso slightly away from the pushing arm.

Step 5  : Continue lowering yourself until your chin is about a fist’s width above the floor. Since your angled your torso, your chin should be about whee the hand you now have behind your back was when you started the exercise. This is one repetition.

8 Best Exercises for Bigger Chest

chest-workout
11 Jul

There are many exercises that you can do on your chest day. But instead of spending your whole chest day searching what exercises you should do. Here are our 8 Best Exercises for Bigger Chest.

Step 1 : Lay flat on a bench and have your feet flat on the floor. The bar, when racked, will be slightly behind your head. It is important to use a spotter for this exercises, especially if your are using a free bar or dumbbells, to eliminate the chance of dropping the weight on yourself!

Step 2 : Once you have lifted the weight off of the rack, the bar will be directly over the center of your chest. Keep your head on the bench at all times throughout the movement. Once you have the bar steady, slowly lower it to about chest level, if you are able to. Upon reaching the bottom the movement, press the bar back up to an extended position, focusing on driving the bar upwards.

Step 1 : Lift the barbell of of the rack and slowly lower it to about 3 inches above your clavicle (just below your Adam’s apple) and then press the bar back to the start position. DO NOT TOUCH THE BAR TO YOUR UPPER CHEST (this will cause unneeded stress on your shoulder joints an takes the tension away from your upper pec muscles). Insure that when you are lowering the bar that you do so in a slow and controlled fashion. Conversely, when you press the bar upward, you want to do so in an explosive fashion.

Step 1 : This exercise is very similar to the regular barbell bench press except that you will be using an incline free wight bench press machine and your upper chest will be the muscle group worked instead of your middle chest.

Step 2 : Lift the dumbbell off of the rack and slowly lower it to about three inches above your clavicle(just below your Adam’s apple) and then press bar back to the start position. DO NOT TOUCH YOUR UPPER CHEST (this causes unneeded shoulder joints stress and takes the tension away from your upper pec muscles). Insure that when you are lowering the dumbbell that you do in a slow and controlled fashion. Conversely, when you press the dumbbell upward, you want to do so in an explosive fashion.

First, keep your head own uring the course of the movement and move your boyd forward. Seconly, move your elbows out a bit. That is, keep your elbows out an away from your body. This will ensure that you are using more chest than triceps. Remember, really concentrate on squeezing your entire chest area at the top of the movement.

Step 1 : This exercise is performed using the cable pulley machine that has a pulley on two opposite sides. Set each pulley up so that is is locked in the high position (if you are not sure how to do this, ask a trainer at the gym you workout at to assist you).

Step 2 : While standing, grab each high pulley using a small one – and attachment for each hand. The position our body will be in will look like a giant letter. Slowly bring your arms together in a slow and controlled fashion. 

Step 3 : While doing so, visualize that you are hugging a giant tree trunk. At the peak of this movement, really flex your pec muscles together for a one – count and then return to the start position and repeat.

Step 1 : To perform dumbbell flies, pick up a relatively light weight in each hand. You will nee to experiment to determine how much weight is your flies. Work with a lighter weight and then slowly work your way up. Lie own on a weight bench an raise both dumbbells straight up over your chest with your arms straight.

 

Step 2 : This is your starting position. Spread both arms outward in a wide arc until your arms are out at your sides. Your arms can be slightly bent. This is the fly part of the dumbbell flies. It is called that because you look like you are flying. Follow the same arc back up until the dumbbells return to the starting position. This is one repetition of the dumbbell fly.

Step 1 : This is very similar to the bent arm barbell pullovers, except that you will be using a dumbbell instead of a barbell . Lie flat on your back on a flat bench. Begin by holding the dumbbell above your chest with your elbows slightly bent. Slowly lower the dumbbell back so as to stretch your arms and the dumbbell back behind your head as far as you can reach. 

Step 2 : Your arms and the dumbbell will actually go behind/above your head and will drop down below the bench. This will really give you a great stretch! Return the dumbbell to the start position slowly, focusing on keeping your elbows locked in the slightly bent position 

Step 1 : Lie prone with your arms straight, your palms flat on the floor, and your hands shoulder-width apart(or wider).

Step 2 : Hold your feet together or very slightly-spread: Inhale an bend your elbows to bring your torso near the floor, avoiding extreme hyperextension of your spine. Push yourself back to arms extended position, exhaling as you complete the movement.