Lowering the bar toward your stomach
Bench Press Variations and EMG Ratings
The barbell bench press is possibly one of the best known exercises among theaverage gym-goer. It’s often the gym bro’s favorite exercise, and notoriouslyknown as Monday’s lift. There’s been a fair amount of research performed onanalyzing the EMG ratings (method of recording electrical activity in skeletalmuscle) that this exercise produces.One study from 2015 compared how different angles in the bench press impactedthe muscle activity in the pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, and tricepsbrachii in 14 healthy resistance trained males. They compared bench angles of0 degrees, 30, 45, and -15. In addition, they looked at activation during theconcentric (pressing phase) and eccentric (lowering phase) phases.For the sake of brevity, we’ll discuss which muscle groups were cumulativelymore active through 0-25, 26-50, 51-75, 76-100 degrees of motion, and whichdisplayed increased activation during various points. If you want specificactivation details, then I strongly suggest checking out the study.
Bench Angle and Competitive Athletes
In June 2017, a study was published that looked at competitive strengthathletes utilizing different bench angles and grips, and analyzed differencesin muscle activation and performance. The authors included 12 bench pressathletes at the National and International levels, four of which competed infull powerlifting meets (all three lifts).Their goal was to analyze EMG ratings of the pec major, triceps brachii,biceps brachii, anterior deltoid, posterior deltoid, and latissimus dorsiduring a 6-RM bench press at various settings. They looked at how EMG ratingsdiffered from a flat competition-wide grip bench to a bench press with narrowand medium grip, along with a 25 degree incline and decline.> This study included a few takeaways that may come as no surprise to some> athletes/coaches, but are worth mentioning. Check them out below. * There were no significant differences in EMG activity between the medium and wide grips, but there was less biceps brachii involvement in the narrow gripped presses. * In the incline press, the triceps brachii saw less activation, while the biceps brachii activation increased. * The latissimus dorsi was slightly more active during the decline bench compared to the incline press.Other than the above three points, the changes were minimal, or non-significant for the bench and grip variations. If you’re interested inchecking out the full analysis and slight differences, then I’d recommendchecking out and giving the study a read!
Best Bench Press Angle for Chest Size
If your goal is to increase the size of your chest, then a mixture of all thebench presses will benefit you best. There should be a focus placed on bothstrength and hypertrophy to facilitate the greatest amount of muscular growth.In addition, it’s beneficial to be following a consistent well-rounded programwith some form of progressive overload.Yet, if you’re lacking in certain areas, then we can use the above research tomake a few educated suggestions. For example, the lower pec major was seen tobe most active during the decline bench press, while the upper pec major wasmost active in the incline press. Similarly, the anterior deltoid was mostactive in the incline presses, which makes sense when you compare how closethis movement is to a standard shoulder press.> In terms of equal activation of the major pressing muscles and their> antagonists (lats/posterior deltoid), then the flat bench with a medium and> wide grip was consistently the best for activating these muscles.
Best Bench Angle for Pressing Strength and Sport
The flat bench will be your best bet for improving bench press strength as awhole for two reasons. First, it’s the most specific to the goal at-hand,which is improving the bench. This is where sport specificity kicks in, and isone of the main reasons a powerlifter practices the flat bench most often.Practice and reps of the same movement will be the best for producing resultsin that movement.Second, the body can handle more weight in the flat bench and has relativelyequal muscle activation. In the second study, authors noted that 6-RM benchpress strength decreased roughly 25% in an athlete’s incline press, and around18% in the decline. If you’re able to handle more weight, then there will be ahigher stimulus for your goal of strength in the press. Plus, this angle makesit slightly easier to add in tools like accommodated resistance.But don’t count out the incline and decline just yet. These movements can beuseful when working through sticking points. For example, if you’re havingissues finishing the lockout, then an incline press may be useful tostrengthen the muscles like the anterior deltoids, along with the use of awide grip for issues off the chest.
Incline chest press, step by step
1. Lie back on an incline bench. Make sure the bench is adjusted to between 15 and 30 degrees on an incline. Anything higher than 30 degrees mainly works the anterior deltoids (shoulders). Your grip should be where your elbows make a 90-degree angle. 2. Using a shoulder-width grip, wrap your fingers around the bar with your palms facing away from you. Lift the bar up from the rack and hold it straight over you with your arms locked. 3. As you breathe in, come down slowly until the bar is an inch away from your chest. You want the bar to be in line with your upper chest the whole time. Your arms should be at a 45-degree angle and tucked into your sides. 4. Hold this position for one count at the bottom of this movement and, with one big exhale, push the bar back up to your starting position. Lock your arms, hold, and come down slowly. 5. Do 12 repetitions and then place the bar back on the rack. 6. Complete a total of five sets, adding weight after each set.As mentioned, the pectoralis major is comprised of the upper and lower pec.When flat benching, both heads are stressed evenly, which makes this exercisebest for overall pec development.The flat bench press is a much more natural fluid movement, compared to youreveryday activities. However, just like the incline chest press, there aresome cons.Dorian Yates, a professional bodybuilder, said: “I don’t even include flatbenching in my pec routine because I think it stresses the front deltoids fartoo much to be an effective exercise for building the chest. Also, the angleof the flat bench press puts the pec tendons in a vulnerable position. Mostshoulder injuries and overuse injuries can be stemmed from flat benching. Manytorn pecs in bodybuilding have been the result of heavy flat bench presses.”As a personal trainer, I see shoulder injuries among men as the most commoninjuries. Common mistakes are: * not having anyone to spot them properly * not having help to rerack the bar * uneven grip * having a more dominant side lifting most of the weight, meaning they were probably at a tiltAs with any kind of press, you really need to warm up your chest and shouldersproperly by using resistance bands and by stretching. With flat benching, youneed to make sure you have full shoulder mobility and scapular stability toreduce the potential for injury.If you find discomfort at all during the flat bench exercise, you shouldreally consider the incline bench exercise or use dumbbells instead.Ultimately, it’s a matter of preference and what your goals are. The flatbench press does a better job of developing your pecs.Many trainers agree that the incline press is safer on your pecs, shoulders,and rotator cuffs. With so many exercises to strengthen your chest, the chestpress with either bench will be effective.Here are some pointers to make sure you’re performing each exercise properly.
Flat bench chest press, step by step
1. Lie down on the flat bench so that your neck and head are supported. Your knees should be at a 90-degree angle with your feet flat on the floor. If your back comes off the bench, you might consider putting your feet on the bench instead of the floor. Position yourself underneath the bar so that the bar is in line with your chest. Place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders, with your elbows flexed at a 90-degree angle. Grasp the bar, palms facing away from you, with your fingers wrapped around it. 2. Exhale, squeeze your core, and push the barbell off the rack and up toward the ceiling using your pectoral muscles. Straighten your arms out in the contracted position, and squeeze your chest. 3. Inhale and bring the barbell down slowly to your chest, again about an inch away. It should take you twice as long to bring the barbell down as it does to push it up. 4. Explode back up to your starting position using your pectoral muscles. Do 12 repetitions and then add more weight for your next set. 5. Perform five sets.If you’re using dumbbells, it’s important that you don’t drop the dumbbellsdown to your side when you’re done using them. This is dangerous to yourrotator cuff and to people around you.If you don’t have a spotter to take the weights away, rest the dumbbells onyour chest and do a crunch to lift yourself up to a seated position. Thenlower the dumbbells to your thighs and then down to the floor.If you’re new at this exercise, please use a spotter. If no spotter isavailable, then be cautious with the amount of weight you use.* * *This workout was created by Kat Miller, CPT. She’s been featured in the DailyPost, is a freelance fitness writer, and owns Fitness with Kat. She currentlytrains at Manhattan’s elite Upper East Side Brownings Fitness Studio, is apersonal trainer at New York Health and Racquet Club in midtown Manhattan, andteaches boot camp.Do The Incline Bench Press for a Stronger and Bigger Chest (With Form Tips andVariations)The Incline Bench Press is a version of the traditional Bench Press in whichthe bench is positioned at about a 45-degree angle. The resulting inclinedposition targets your upper chest and the frontside of your shoulders more thethe standard flat bench.In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about theIncline Bench Press to help you build a stronger and bigger upper body. 1. Incline Bench Press Form 2. Incline Bench Press Benefits 3. Incline Bench Press Muscles Worked 4. Incline Bench Press Mistakes 5. Incline Bench Press Alternatives and Variations 6. Incline Bench Press Workouts
Incline Bench Press Form
To perform an Incline Bench Press, you need some type of incline bench. Hereare your three options: * Many gyms have an incline bench station designed for the exercise. This is your best option. * If that’s not available, you’ll need to find an adjustable bench, raise it to about a 45-degree angle and place it in a power/squat rack. * Lastly, you can stack a minimum of four plates on the ground and set one end of a flat utility bench on it to get a slight incline.For the second two options, make sure you test your setup with an emptybarbell before adding weight to make sure the bench, height of the bar andsafety pins (if you’re using them) are in the proper position.Step 1: Lie on the incline bench and plant your feet on the floor with yourbutt about 6 inches above the seat. Now slide yourself down so your butt is onthe seat without lifting your feet off the ground. Tighten your glutes andcore. Learn more about this setup here.Step 2: Grab the barbell with a grip slightly wider than shoulder width andhold onto it as tightly as you can. Unrack the bar and bring it directly overyour shoulders with your arms straight. This is your starting position.Step 3: Take a deep breath in and lower the bar with control to the upper partof your chest. Your elbows should be at about a 45-degree angle with yourbody.Step 4: Drive your feet into the ground and explosively press the bar up toreturn to the starting position.
Incline Bench Press Benefits
The Incline Bench Press is a compound upper-body exercise, meaning thatmultiple joints and muscles contribute to the movement. As a variation of thetraditional flat Bench Press, it’s considered one of the best exercises tobuild a stronger and larger upper body.The Incline Bench Press targets many of the same large upper-body muscles asthe flat version. However, the angle of the press shifts the work to yourupper chest and shoulders. Your shoulders continue to take on more of the workas the angle of the bench increases until the bench is vertical and it becomesa shoulder press.The exercise can be performed with heavy weight to build max strength or withlight weight to increase power or size depending on your goal. The inclinedposition is more difficult to press from, so you won’t be able to lift as muchweight as you can on the flat bench. Many inexperienced lifters have atendency to avoid the Incline Bench Press for this reason. However, trainingyour weak points with the Incline Bench Press is one of the easiest ways tobuild a stronger flat Bench Press and a more well-rounded upper body.
Incline Bench Press Muscles Worked
The Incline Bench Press primarily works the clavicular head of the pectoralismajor, or the upper portion of your chest. It also works the anterior deltoid(front portion of the shoulder) and the triceps (backside of your arm). Whenperformed correctly, it should be a full-body movement using the small musclesin your shoulders, large muscles in your back, your core and even your glutes.
Lowering the bar toward your stomach
The bar path on the Bench Press goes from over your shoulders to just underyour chest. However, this causes problems on the Incline Bench Press becauseof the angle of the lift. If you lower the bar toward your stomach, your upperarms will angle forward and the bar will want to fall forward out of yourhands. My biceps were working hard to keep the bar from falling just demoingthis mistake.
Bouncing the bar off your chest
This is a no-no with every Bench Press variation. It’s OK to touch the bar toyour chest, but don’t bounce it. That’s cheating and it’s dangerous—especiallyas you begin to lift heavy weight. If you have to bounce, then you probablyneed to use a lighter weight.
Single-Arm Landmine Press
This exercise is perfect for anyone who experiences shoulder pain on theexercise or who is an overhead athlete, such as a baseball player or tennisplayer. The exercise allows for your shoulder blades to move through a fullrange of motion for pain-free upper-body training.