It’s all in how you set up. Athletes misunderstand how to bench press because of two main reasons. The first is simply that it is easy to relax the rest of your body when you lay down. The second is because the sport of bench pressing performs the movement in a particular way to maximize the weight lifted. For the vast majority of people however the goal isn’t simply to lift the most weight it is to get the most positive strength, health, and fitness benefits from the exercise.
Just to reiterate → the goal when working out for health and fitness isn’t to lift the most weight possible. The goal IS to get the most benefit out of the movements you choose to perform.
That being said, let’s see how we can work our core while benching and keep ourselves safe simultaneously.
Here are the steps:
- Lay down on the bench and make sure your entire foot can reach the floor. If they don’t, grab weight plates or other risers to place below where your feet will be.
- Perform a strong and long exhale. This pulls your ribs down towards your spine and presses your low back into the bench.
- Now keep this active tension in your abdomen throughout the repetitions.
This setup builds core strength and delivers focused safe pressing strength into the bar or dumbbells. As the weight increases you will have to fight to keep your low back on the bench and your core tight. This practice translates to a stronger posture anytime you are under load. Being able to engage your diaphragm and abdominals like this will protect your lower back from injury. Lastly, you will get even more out of the pressing motion for your shoulders and chest because they are the sole muscles you are using to lift the weight. When the back is allowed to move it ends up assisted your pressing muscles in the movement.
Next time you bench press try this out and let us know what you think!