The barbell bench press (or bench press) is one of the most used exercises to train the chest. But how effective is the bench press exercise in bodybuilding for beginners? Which muscles are involved most? Chest, triceps, shoulders? Find out below how to effectively bench press to effectively develop the muscles you want.
Working closely with the customers of the gym, it happens more and more frequently that they come to complain about shoulder discomfort, or rather the rotator cuffs, the cause is 99% of the time always the same: just the bench (made of shit ).
If you want to keep doing it without smashing your shoulders, check out this tutorial:
Although it is recommended not to do it for a short time or to reduce the loads considerably, nothing to do, rather they do it in secret (a scene that happened several times); on the other hand, the flat bench is a must in the pectoral routine as well as being a real alpha male exercise, in the end, to challenge one another wonders “how much do you bench press?” not “how many legs raises can you do?”.
The annoyances, however, evolve into increasingly unbearable pain until you are forced to temporarily suspend your workouts.
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Bench press and hypertrophy: in which subjects is it more effective for developing muscle mass?
Not all subjects benefit from the bench press – in terms of hypertrophy of the pectoral muscle – from the bench press, the possible causes (but we could add many others) of its “failure” can be:
– flat bench and clavicular biotypes
if used by extremely clavicular biotypes (structure of the shoulder blade-humeral girdle quite accentuated and wide on the frontal plane, which gives it, in fact, wide collarbones, flat chest, and generally already well-developed triceps and deltoids);
– flat bench and shoulder conformation
if used by subjects who have a more pronounced anteroposterior excursion than average (i.e. the shoulders protrude forward and the humeri are intra-rotated), for the simple reason that even at the lowest point of the lift (chest barbell) the pectoral will never be fully stretched (unlike the deltoid!), this results in a non-optimal work of the pectoral muscle while the deltoid is forced to work overtime;
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– flat bench in subjects with weak triceps
if used by subjects with too weak triceps compared to the whole motor chain that is activated during distension (a lack of the latter weighs in particular on the closure of the lift); if the triceps are the first to yield (or get tired), you will train the pectoral;
– flat bench and incomplete ROM
I remember that the flat bench is an incomplete movement if compared to the action that the pectoral grandis would perform (shoulder flexion in the sagittal plane, adduction of the humerus in the frontal plane, internal rotation of the shoulder in the frontal plane); if then to an incomplete ROM we add a bad execution (perhaps further removing the excursion) we will further nullify the effectiveness of this exercise.
Why is it important to use a flawless bench press technique?
To the aforementioned points just described we can add another problem, or rather another “limit” that this exercise has: the flat bench – to be safe and effective – requires a truly impeccable technique, from the first to the last repetition of each series and practically hardly anyone in the gym has it.
Let’s start from here: “to activate the individual you need to know how to involve everything “.
It is well established that the safest (articularly) and effective (muscularly) technique is the so-called bench press with adducted shoulder blades and respected spine curves (a physiological lumbar arch or slightly accentuated, never flattened!) With feet firmly on the ground.
This setting will allow us to protect the shoulder joints by widening the sub-acromial space thanks to the adduction of the shoulder blades as well as guaranteeing a higher internal muscle tension thanks to the greater elongation of the pectoral muscle at the lowest point of the movement.
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The width of the grip must not be excessively wide, the very wide grips are used by Powerlifters but in that discipline, the aim is to be able to lift the maximum load not to stimulate the pectoral muscle!
The optimal grip width for barbell bench presses should not exceed bi-acromial distance • 1.5 (one and a half times the bi-acromial distance).
Already reading this very brief description it is self-evident that this type of lift is anything but simple to perform, and also that having to pay a lot of attention to the whole (the gesture) we will be able to concentrate little on the individual (the bib).
Let me explain better, with a non-optimal and consolidated technique, trying to push a series to the limit we could give up for many reasons without having “squeezed” the bib 100%, as well as breaking down and increasing the risk of injuries.
So how do you perform the flat bench press?
Ok, so what? Do we do it? Don’t we do it anymore?
Have you been doing the bench press for many years with excellent results on your pectorals and do not have back problems? Do as if you haven’t read and keep doing it.
If, on the other hand, your results leave something to be desired, if you have back problems and the problem is more than anything else postural (kyphotic attitude) it is recommended to the bench by learning to pull while pushing.
In the Bench Press, you have to start feeling your back, the chest is only the meeting point between two extremes: the barbell and the back resting on the backrest. Only in this way, by unloading the weight on the posterior muscles of the trunk, can you continue to carry out the exercise by removing the kyphotic attitude. The other solution is simply to no longer do the flat bench press and to prefer the opening exercises (for the rhomboids) over the closing ones.
If, on the other hand, the results in terms of hypertrophy leave something to be desired, the solution could be to adopt exercises with dumbbells so that they release the limbs from each other, increasing the ROM and muscle stretching.
The more you stretch a muscle, the more the eccentric will create damage to the contractile tissue with greater hypertrophic response. Alternatively, the pre-fatigue technique could be performed by preceding the horizontal bench with crosses or with the pectoral machine, in order to arrive with the pectoral already pre-fatigued thus having the certainty that it will be the first muscle to tire during the execution of the bench press and not agonists and synergists.
Flat bench and large chest: “high chest or low chest”?
This note is not entirely inherent to the theme of the flat bench, but since we are talking about stretches for the pectoral muscle I wanted to clarify it.
The pectoralis major muscle has a fan shape (almost triangular) and is divided into three heads:
- clavicular head: originates from the medial half of the anterior border of the clavicle;
- sternocostal head: originates from the anterior face of the sternum and from the first three costal cartilages;
- abdominal head: originates from the sheath of the anterior muscles of the abdomen in its upper part, from the cartilage of the 4a , 5a, and 6a
The three bundles are inserted with a single tendon (broad and flat) to the crest of the greater tubercle of the humerus.
In Bodybuilding, the inclined bench has always been attributed to the training of the “high” pectorals ( clavicular bundles ) and the declined bench to the stimulation of the “low” ones, partly by word of mouth and partly because it has always been done this way.
It should be noted that it is not the inclination of the bench that determines the emphasis of one garment rather than another, but rather the width of the handle (or rather, the trajectory of the humerus)!
To make it simpler, the tighter the grip the more you will activate the clavicular bundles while the wider it will be, the more you will use the abdominal ones.
However, it should be emphasized that we can never speak of pure isolation of one area rather than another since the three bundles are inserted into a single tendon, but at the most to shift the emphasis of muscle contraction.
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Example of bench press workout for chest hypertrophy
How to structure a split-routine pectoral muscle workout without our flat bench press? This might be an idea for a no longer beginner athlete who has already developed a good degree of strength:
- Dumbbell presses on a flat bench
- 3 x 6-8
- Crosses with dumbbells on the incline bench
- 3 x 8-10
- @ 1’30 “
- still in max stretch 2 “
- Dip at parallels:
- 2 x max
- @ 1’30 “
- continuous voltage
- Pectoral machine or cable crosses
- 2 x 15
- @ 1 ‘
- peack contraction 2 “
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Conclusions on the bench press for hypertrophy in bodybuilding (editorial final notes)
We know that many of you will shudder to read: Crosses and Pectoral Machine, but one thing is the training for functional dystrophy, in which you look at the load lifted, the best technique to do it, and hypertrophy is only a secondary consequence. to this (the path we follow with the project Invictus), bodybuilding is one thing where the inner research is aimed exclusively at aesthetics and where the key factors are: the internal load (and not the external one), muscle damage, cell acidity.
Wanting to mix the two is a fundamental mistake, an athlete not because he is NATURAL will only have to do multi-joint if he wants to grow, but will have to mix ALL the exercises, because excluding some a priori is limiting his own muscle development. It is logical that if we think that the cables or the barbell give the same stimulus there is something wrong, but no one has ever stated this.
Hi, I am Matt Storace and I am a former personal trainer and founder of Beast Biceps. We had to find ways to train at home. When I started looking for the equipment I needed, I quickly realized that there were no good resources online. So I created Beast Biceps. It is a treasure trove of information developed from my experience and research. Read More Here