One of the first exercises each new gym goer wants to do is a bench press as it's a staple of a workout and every gym has the facilities for it. Some gyms even have incline and decline benches which have been shown to marginally work the upper and lower chest. It is up to you to decide which bench you want to use but focus on your aim and goal. Before you decide, try the following tips on a standard bench so that you have a good base for comparison. Below I will go through the technique and give a few tips on how to get the most out of your bench press and build a super strong chest.
Basic Bench Press Technique
Hand position - Use the guides on the bar and either a narrow or a wide grip can be used just ensure that both hands are In the same position, now personally I find the narrow grip to be easier and may be a good starting point. Feet planted - Keep your feet planted to the ground and push through them to gain extra force and push the weight up. 1 inch from the chest - Lower the bar so it is around 1 inch away from the chest as the deeper the press the more muscles engaged no one likes to see 1/2 reppers at the gym. Gradual increases - Look to add 2.5kg per side rather than a 5kg or a 10kg as don't forget that what ever weight plate you add to the bar adds double. Ask for a spot - Now the heavier you get with the bench the more dangerous it gets so don't be afraid to ask someone to help you by watching the bar down and helping you when you need it.
Once you have mastered the basics of the press over time you will find that you need to make it more challenging and below I have listed some ways that you can make it more difficult:Pre and post exhaust - By doing a set of dumbbell flies before other after a set of bench press will burn and tear any remaining muscle fibres apart. Mix up the angle - instead of hitting the flat bench try mixing in the incline or decline press to put extra strain on the upper or lower chest. Dumbbell chest press - by adding or using a dumbbell press instead of a barbell means that your chest muscles will be worked differently but also you can do alternating presses where you do left then right arm separate. GVT - German Volume Training is a training system where you do 10 sets of 10 reps so 100 chest presses at the same weight and this will burn. Negatives - With this you will need a partner to help you. Start by putting your 1rep max on the bar and start to slowly lower the bar down to your chest. Once low enough, get your spotter to pull up the bar and repeat. This means your chest muscle fibres are being worked in the downward motion only and will help shock your muscles into growth. Give these a go and see if you see a difference in your bench press and your chest. Remember to ask the experts over at GoNutrition if you have any questions.