The barbell bench press may feel like a simple move, but there is more to it than just laying on your bench and pushing the weight off your chest.
The bench press is the all-time great exercise to create a larger chest, but it is also an important benchmark strength move.
Some trainers may tell you how to bench press with a drive to get hypertrophy to create as much muscle as you can. For others, like legendary weightlifter Mark Bell, who has a 578 pound bench press, the goal is to just push weight.
Bell recently revealed a long YouTube video about the exercise, really going into breaking down what most people think are the most important parts of the bench press.
How Mark Bell Does the Bench Press
For Bell, it all begins with your hand placement. He is not set on one special spot—it depends on what is comfortable for you doing the exercise. “Just ensure your grip is even,” he says. And make sure to squeeze your bar firmly. “When you squeeze a barbell, you want to squeeze it with everything you got because we are trying to initiate from our fingers down to our toes. You have to get everything involved in your bench press.”
Once you lay back on your bench, Bell stresses that it is crucial that your chest stays in an upright position to help keep a neutral spine. “When your back is in a neutral spot and your head is in a neutral spot—it’s not too far down, or too far up— you can express the most strength through your extremities, in this case your arms.”
When it comes to moving your weight, Bell gives a counterintuitive tip: pull your bar out of the rack, instead of pushing it. But there is a method to his madness—pushing your weight out places your shoulders in a bad position once you have to get your body into position for the real pressing. Especially if you are working with heavy weight, you will want to adjust yourself to get into a better pressing mode safely.
As you lower the weight to your chest, Bell says you should aim to a get to a point close to your sternum that seems to be comfortable.
Watch the full video here:
Author: Blake Ambrose