What are some bench pressing mistakes you can make to sabotage your growth and cause injuries? There are several standard bench press mistakes that lifters make, holding them back from adding muscle. These mistakes can also increase their chance of sustaining an injury. Most of these common mistakes are easily corrected.
Here are the top six bench pressing mistakes you need to watch out for:
- Your feet are not flat on the floor. This is one of the most common mistakes you will see in the gym. If your feet are not flat on the ground, you will not have a strong base, and you will put undue stress on your lower back. Keeping your feet flat and planted on the floor will give you a sturdy base and maintain proper form throughout the movement.
- Incorrect hand placement. Many lifters do not consider an improper grip or hand placement on the bar as a bench pressing mistake. Grip the bar with your forearms perpendicular to the flat bench when the bar reaches your chest. If your forearms are not straight up and down, your grip must be adjusted, as your hand placement is either too wide or too narrow. Your thumbs should also be wrapped around the bar to provide stability and safety. Ensure you are resting the bar on the lower part of your palm, not too high up on your hand or too far down towards your wrist.
- They are lifting without a spotter. Do NOT bench press without a spotter. As you progress to heavier weights, a spotter will become necessary, so get in the habit of ALWAYS bench pressing with a spotter, regardless of the weight you are using.
The next three mistakes are simple fixes but can blow up your workout if you don’t get them right.
- Another typical bench pressing mistake that people make is to bounce the bar off their chest. Remember, you are bench pressing to improve your muscular strength and develop your upper body, not to see how much momentum you can get while bouncing the bar off your chest. Don’t cheat your reps, and make sure the movement is controlled throughout the lift.
- Many inexperienced lifters make this bench pressing mistake: lift their butt off the bench when pushing the barbell upward. NEVER lift your butt off the bench when you are pressing the weight. This is a clear indication that you are attempting to bench press a weight you cannot control, and one of the easiest ways to injure your lower back.
- This bench pressing mistake stops muscle growth in its tracks: performing the same workout over and over. Many lifters perform the same routine with the same amount of weight at every bench press workout. By performing the same workout over and over, you are violating the progressive overload principle. You are creating your plateau: if you continue to work up to two plates on each side (225 pounds) and stop, you will never get big or stronger than 225 pounds. Also, change it up: start changing your weights, repetitions, and rest periods between sets. Add those tiny weight plates to each side of the bar as you perform your last lift of each workout, and you will see new record lifts and new muscles forming.