The bench press is one of the most common exercises among gym goers, it's an icon of the sport and the lifestyle. The bench press is the basis for a great chest workout routine and is seen as a display of strength in the body building community.
How many of you out there haven't been asked this question at your gym, even by your buddies: "how much do you bench?"
However, in being the most popular exercise at almost every gym, the bench press has developed its fair share of...well....errors!
The most common issue is people letting their ego pick the weight. Many guys (and girls) will try to bench weights that are far too heavy to keep proper form. The ego collides with the ethos of 'heavier is better, heaviest is best' which over rides proper, safe and effective training and weight lifting methods.
The risk of injury is placed to one side in the pursuit of being the person to bench the heaviest weight at the gym that morning out of all of their friends. Are there gains to be made from this extreme lifting? No, just gaining a serious muscle injury!
So, without further a do, here's the top 3 mistakes you'll spot at your local gym involving the bench press:
Bouncing the bar! This is one of the most common mistakes you'll see using this exercise. People using their chest as a bouncy castle to give them those extra few reps using a weight that's far too big for them. The bench press should be controlled, you need to keep proper form and the descent of the weight should be strict and gradual, keeping the muscles under tension on the way down. Pause for a second at the bottom of each rep, do not rest the bar on your chest. You'll probably find that you're doing a lot less reps on a lot lower weights, but, in time, you'll see massive gains and you'll avoid injuring yourself or bruising your chest.
Another common bench press error is not using the full range of motion. When someone picks up a heavy weight and lowers it to within around 6 inches of their chest then press it back up. That's NOT a rept. The most important part of each bench press rep, to stimulate the pecs, is the bottom half. From the chest to around 4 inches off the lockout, the chest muscles are being worked. At the lock out, the shoulders and triceps begin to take the strain. If you're not going all the way down to your chest with the bar, you're not completing the full rep and you won't be reaping the rewards. Make sure you always go down to the chest, hold and then back up to the lockout. Don't bounce!
Last but not least, the spotter. When completing a bench press it is common to see a spotter practically deadlifting the weight off someone when they're trying to bench far beyond their max rep weight. There's no point in trying to bench 200kg when your spotter is deadlifting 50kg off your chest! The spotter is there for support, to grab the weight when you're struggling to hit your form and full rep, he shouldn't be grabbing the weight off you midway through and taking the strain off the muscles you're trying to build.
In summary, if you're going to do the bench press properly, remember not to fall in to the trap of letting your ego get in the way of a safe and effective bench press routine. Lift right, lift safe and you'll see maximum gains in a faster period of time.