One of the most commonly performed—and easily misperformed—exercises is the Bench Press. Too often, those who practice it focus on adding more weight instead of getting the proper form down. Others struggle with performing it correctly for their body type.
We can address three physical issues to narrow down the cause of poor benching and pectoral hypertrophy.
1. You Fail Early During Sets with Little Pectoral Muscle Recruitment
Problem: In this scenario, the Bench Press is supposed to be the exercise that recruits your pectoral muscles, but somehow you have trouble completing sets before your chest even gets a good workout.
If this is the case for you, it's likely your triceps—the primary muscles being used for this exercise—are too weak to handle the load.
Solution: When this situation occurs, lower the resistance on your Bench Press and switch to dumbbells for the time being. Also, add an extra compound exercise that focuses on your triceps more than your chest, such as the Reverse Close-Grip Press or regular Close-Grip Bench Press.
2. You Experience Shoulder Pain During the Bench Press
Problem: This is another common issue, caused either by weak shoulders—more specifically the rotator cuff—or lack of a proper warm-up.
Solution: A good way to prevent this is by strengthening your rotator cuff and giving it a proper warm-up, which will loosen up the shoulder tendons and muscles.
Helpful exercises, using very light resistance, include the 90-Degree Dumbbell External Rotation, Cable Internal Rotation and Cable External Rotation.
Also, you can try a neutral grip instead of a pronated grip to avoid overuse of your rotator cuff, while still receiving an effective pectoral workout. Neutral grip means your palms face toward your body, which hints to the use of dumbbells instead of a barbell.
3. Your Are Using an Improper Grip
Problem: On another note regarding grip, your chest muscles may not be getting the attention they deserve because your grip is too narrow. If your hands are in too close, your triceps will take all the credit.
Solution: To achieve the proper grip, place your forearms directly under the bar parallel with each other. You don't want your wrist to bend, as this is a sign of improper grip. Start with your pinky finger wrapped around the convenient ring on the barbell.
If you have long arms, you may need to shift your grip out further to get into proper position.
RELATED: Beginner's Guide to the Bench Press
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