Anyone who has ever encountered a weight has probably tried a bench press at some point. And if you want to build your chest, it is a must do exercise. But, like anything, things can go wrong. From the minor to the major, not doing a bench press correctly can cause serious issues.
So here’s what we think are the five worst mistakes, and how to fix them.
Not taking the bar down to your chest
THE PROBLEM: In short, not going through the whole range of motion. If you don’t bring the bar down, you don’t get the benefit of the whole movement. The same logic actually applies when you push the bar up, after all, if you don’t go all the way you aren’t finishing the movement.
THE FIX: If you can’t make the whole movement, reduce the weight or ask someone to spot you for more confidence.
Flailing your elbows
THE PROBLEM: If your elbows are sticking out massively during the movement, then the likelihood is that you are bringing the bar down too far up your chest. This can cause massive strain on your rotator cuff, and cause injuries.
THE FIX: Practice your form before moving up weights and ask someone to film or spot you to see if your elbows are where they should be.
Not mixing up your angles
THE PROBLEM: This may seem like we are contradicting ourselves now, but if you don’t work the chest in different ways, you don’t hit all the muscles. If you just do the same bench every time, moving up weights when appropriate, you will see benefits but not across the whole muscle group. If you’re unsure how to work different angles, ask a member of staff at your gym for some help in setting up.
THE FIX: Change up your angles and work on the lower (decline), middle (flat) and upper chest (incline).
The wrong weight
THE PROBLEM: No internet workout / fitness / bodybuilding article would be complete without mentioning the amount of weight you need. But, the importance of getting it right cannot be questioned. Too light, and you aren’t adding enough resistance or tension to muscle, so you won’t be getting the results you’re after. Too heavy, and you’ll not only fail to get the full range of motion, but you also risk causing yourself serious injury.
THE FIX: Find a weight that allows you to do 70-80% of your rep range comfortably, with the last few being a struggle.
Going too fast
THE PROBLEM: If you go too fast, you aren’t focusing on the movement, and the chances are your weight is too low. The lack of time under tension means you won’t be maximising the workload of your muscles. Rushing through the movement can also cause injuries, because your form will slip, leading to flailing elbows and the like!
THE FIX: Find a speed that works for you, count the amount of seconds that work for you, and use that as a guide.