The Official Bench Press Check List (AVOID MISTAKES!)
How to bench press when the bench press is taken
There’s never a line for the adductor machine. If you want to blast your quads, there’s always a leg extension available. But come chest day, it’s six-deep at the bench press. “Most gyms only have two max, and every single man wants to use it,” says Tim Walker, PT and founder of London’s EOM Fitness. “So you have to find equally effective moves in case you’re not first in.”
Easier said than done. The bench is oversubscribed for two reasons; it targets your biggest mirror muscles, and it’s the most effective piece of kit in your gym. “No other movement can challenge your chest with such a large amount of weight,” says Walker. “And the pump you get from the bench makes you feel like it’s literally building muscle with every set. So of course there’s a queue for it. Especially on Friday night.”
Because standing in line won’t pump up your pecs, you need to think laterally. These moves will hammer the same muscles as the bench press, while the bros twiddle their thumbs.
Slow weighted dips
By strapping on a belt and putting the brakes on your descent, this arms builder can punish your pecs as well. “If you go heavy and deep, you can get a great chest building workout,” says Walker. Slow and shredded wins this race: “A three-to-five-second descent will engage more chest and you’ll be able to lift even more weight, to pack on mass.”
Beats the bench: As well as your pecs, you’ll target the oft-overlooked shoulder muscles that can limit your progress when you’re back on your back. Meaning a new bench press PB when you finally get your turn.
Though the press-up targets the same muscles as the bench press, unless you’re carrying some serious timber your bodyweight won’t get near your 1RM. So add some mass. “Position a weight plate on your upper back so it won’t slip off,” says Walker – here’s where your redundant spotter comes in – “then it’s a standard press-up with a controlled lowering phase and explosive push back up.”
Beats the bench: Ensuring your hips don’t dip under the extra load will give your core a hammering as well. Think of it as the bench press that builds your six-pack.
Lying cable chest press
You get the best results pulling cables towards you, but when Jim Bro’s camped out on the bench, pushing them away is a solid stand-in. “You can make the weight pretty heavy, and get the bonus of being able to squeeze your pecs hard at the top,” says Walker. When you’re shifting all the plates, recruit your spotter to pass the handles and help you lock your elbows at the top of the movement.
Beats the bench: Because the cables are pulling the weight down at an angle, you can move your hands inwards as you lift the weight, firing up more muscle fibres to spike growth across your entire chest.
Lying cable guillotine press
Don’t get up just yet; sling a bar through the handles and call your spotter back over. The pattern’s as the name suggests: lift the weight to lock-out, then slowly lower it towards your Adam’s apple, rather then your chest, with your elbows flared out. Speaking like Marie Antoinette. “When I first encountered it I just thought the guy was doing an awful bench press, but it really works.” Let any side-eye roll off your pumped up pectorals.
Beats the bench: As the bench press mafia cheat their way to new PBs, know you’re doing more with less. “With the guillotine version, you don’t need as much weight but it still hits your pecs more directly,” says Walker. Let the bench bros eat beefcake.
Video: How To Get A Huge Bench Press with PERFECT Technique (Fix Mistakes) | Technique Tuesday Ep. 1
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