Anyone who has even sniffed 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 issues. So here’s what we think are the worst five mistakes, and how to fix them (in no particular order).

5Not taking the bar down to your chest

In short this means 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.

4Flailing your elbows

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.

3Not mixing up your angles

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. Unsure how to work the different angles? Ask a member of staff at your gym for some help in setting up, and what the differences in types of bench press are. The fix: Change up your angles and work on the lower (decline), middle (flat) and upper chest (incline).

2The wrong weight

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 your muscle, so won’t be getting the results you’re after. Too heavy and you 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.

1Going too fast

If you go too fast, you aren’t focussing on the movement, and the chances are, you 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 works for you, and use that as a guide.

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