Whether you are an avid gym goer training for a competition or only pop in a couple of times a year you are almost guaranteed to get the question, “How much do you bench?” The bench press is one of, if not the most popular exercise in many gyms, so why is it also the one exercise that most people seem to plateau on? I am going to list the top 5 mistakes that I see, and that you should eliminate, when it comes to the bench press.
1. Too heavy too often
I often see people benching 95-100% of the 1rm multiple times a month and even multiple times in a week! Testing your 1rm should be saved for competitions or after a long training cycle to track your progress. Benching too heavy too often can increase your risk of injury and will ultimately lead to a stall in progress due to the overall volume you handle being decreased. Proper bench press programming can foster constant sustainable gains that decrease your risk of injury. At Evans Physical Therapy & Sport Performance we provide affordable weekly workout programming that will kickstart your bench press.
2. Lack of Consistency
This is an easy fix. If you find yourself working out hard, smart, and routinely for 4 or 5 months and then taking a month or 2 off then you just simply can’t expect to see the steady progress you’re grasping for. Plan for the unexpected. If something can go wrong it will go wrong. With this mindset you will not let a change of plans or a disturbance alter your dedication to reaching your goal.
3. Poor Technique
This is a BIG one. At first glance from an outside perspective the bench press may seem like it is all about brute strength (hold the bar in your hands, bring it to your chest, and explode it back into the air). However, we all know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The bench press is highly technical. Foot placement, grip width, leg drive, head placement, back flat vs arched, elbow flare, bar path, etc are all factors that go into having an efficient, safe, and strong bench press. At Evans Physical Therapy & Sport Performance we provide detailed movement analysis including the bench press.
4. Goal Setting
Many people struggle with goal setting. It is important to have goals that are specific and attainable. If you are benching 135lb and want to bench 315lb you have to put together a gameplan with multiple short and long term goals that allow you to stay on a path towards eventual success. Goals allow you to stay way from the first 2 mistakes (lack of consistency and going too heavy too often).
5. Everything But the Bench Press
This one might be the most common. An individual will try out a cookie cutter bench press program they found online for 3 or 4 weeks. Frustrated with the lack of success they will overanalyze the situation. “My lockout is weak, need too hit my triceps harder”, “My chest is lagging, need to do more isolated pec exercises”. The list will go on and on and this person will try every isolated accessory exercise known to man when the real issue is that he or she just needs to, wait for it…Bench press MORE. As I mentioned before, the bench press is very technical and because of this it needs to be practiced…A LOT. Too many people are quick to hit “weak points” without mastering the movement itself. Take the time to learn the movement. For a personally customized and hands on bench press teaching session visit our website and contact us!