In the list of exercises that can make someone feel powerful while seeming a little intimidating to those not familiar with them, the barbell bench press is certainly in one of the top positions!
Do you have questions about the barbell bench press? Not sure of the benefits or of how to perform the exercise?
We’ve got you covered!
Exactly how you choose to use the barbell bench press is highly dependent of your overall technical ability and experience, how much weight you’re using, the set and rep scheme you select, where you place the exercise in your workout, what other exercises you do and what your rest periods are.
In general barbell bench presses can be used to do any or all of the following:
In and of itself, the barbell bench press is more of an intermediate lifting exercise. This means that you should wait until you have experience doing push-ups and the dumbbell bench press before progressing to the barbell bench press.
As you start working on the barbell bench press, keep in mind that a standard barbell weighs 45 pounds. If this is still too much of a load for you, you may want to stick with the dumbbell bench press until you’ve built the strength required to use a conventional barbell.
Alternatively, some gyms have fixed-weight preloaded barbells that are shorter than a traditional barbell, and usually start around 20 pounds, going up in increments of 5 to 10 pounds.
Where the barbell bench press goes in your workout will depend on the workout itself. If you’re doing an upper-body pushing workout, you should place the barbell bench press somewhere in the first half of the workout, when your muscles and nervous system are fresh.
If you’re doing a full-body workout, you can pair the barbell bench press with a lower-body compound movement, or an upper-body pulling movement.
To make the barbell bench press more challenging, you can of course add resistance to it. Another way to increase the challenge is to change the tempo of the exercise, by slowing down the eccentric (or lowering) part of the movement. You can also add a pause at the bottom of the movement, where the barbell is closest to your chest.
When it comes to your bench press technique, you must determine what your goal is. For instance, if you are a powerlifter and are looking to lift as much weight as possible, your bench press form will look very different from that of a bodybuilder, or the general population who is just looking to add muscle, get stronger, and feel good. If you are looking to develop your triceps, you will use a slightly narrower grip.
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