Arnold’s Bench Basics

If you want to pack on extra muscle on your chest and arms, you can’t leave out the barbell bench presses. They are one of the most important exercises you can do to boost the strength and the size of your pectoral muscles, your deltoids and your triceps, but remember to keep your form and your technique pure. You are out to become bigger and stronger, and you need to know how to do that in order to get it right.

Also, your goal isn’t to just improve those two points, but you’re also aiming for better symmetry and in the end, better aesthetic appeal. It doesn’t matter which exercise you’re performing – your rep range always needs to be anywhere from 8-12 reps per set if you want to be a bodybuilder. This is not the case for your abs, legs and calves which are far more suited for high reps and low weight. You will need to keep your form as proper as possible by keeping the weight under control for the entire duration of your uninterrupted range of motion.

But when benching is involved, there is another problem that powerlifters face. These people lift a lot (and I mean a lot) of weight, with the current world record being somewhere around a thousand pounds, and with that kind of weight they need to have the best possible stability in order to not have it fall on their bodies. This is the same for bodybuilders but with reduced criticality and urgency. When you lift your feet off the floor while benching, you are doing a great job at working on the stabilizing muscles of your torso, unless you’re lifting a weight that’s too heavy, which means you have no business lifting your feet up like that. Another method that powerlifters use to become more stable is pulling their shoulders down and inwards while the movement is happening, and then locking their elbows when it gets to the top.

Bodybuilders should bench press differently, since this isn’t the most effective way for them. When you lift that bar, think about your shoulders going forward and compressing your pectoral muscles when you get to the top of the repetition. You will be experiencing a very small increase in your range of motion but it matters a lot – it will make you continue using your pectorals at maximum power instead of switching to your triceps when you get to the top of the movement. If you’re a bodybuilder and you lock out your elbows, you’re not doing much, but powerlifters understand the importance of this move and they also switch up the grip on their bar, making it wider or narrower depending on what will make them lift more weight.

Bodybuilders use a grip depending on their own proportions but the pecs still need to be the most engaged muscles in that lift. If it’s too narrow, you’ll be lifting with your triceps and not with your pecs. If it’s just outside of your shoulder width you will experience the best possible effects on your pecs. Also, powerlifters use another incredibly important technique which is keeping the elbows down by their sides and tightened in, so that more power can be produced. If you’re a bodybuilder, make sure your elbows are out by your sides so that your upper arms are parallel to the floor. This will keep the stress on your chest muscles and it will keep the intensity on your triceps minimal. When someone asks how much do you bench, you want to give a real number that’s not inflated by tricks, so if you want larger guns, let the powerlifters do their thousand pound bench presses.

Here’s the ultimate workout routine to get your chest in shape and minimize involvement of your triceps or other muscles while having the best chest effect:

  • 5 sets of bench presses starting with 12 reps for the first set, then 10 for the second, 8 for the third and fourth and 6 for your last set.
  • 4 sets of incline dumbbell bench presses for 8 to 10 reps each.
  • 4 sets of dumbbell flyes for 8 to 10 reps each.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *