bench press demonstration

Barbell bench press better to get a big chest

1. Get a grip
To build a bigger chest you need to bench press using the Goldilocks grip. That’s when you hold the bar with a slightly-wider than shoulder-width grip. It’s the perfect hand position to work the most chest muscle fibres. Too narrow a grip shifts the emphasis away from your chest to your triceps, limiting how heavy you can lift. Too wide a grip places excess strain on your shoulders, and you don’t want to mess around with those delicate joints. Get the right grip then squeeze the bar hard!

2. Plant your feet
If your body doesn’t feel stable and fully supported on the barbell bench press then your brain is going to limit your power output to prevent injury. This means your chest muscles won’t fire to their full potential, but that’s what it takes if you want to build a big chest. To get total-body stability you need to think about your feet. Make sure they are both firmly planted on the floor – never up on the bench. Then drive your heels down and feel that muscle engagement move upwards through your glutes and torso. Once you’re tight, you’re ready to lift.

3. Take a breath
It can be tempting to hold your breath during a heavy barbell bench press set. Sometimes it happens without us even realising as we try to bench out those crucial final reps. But all that does is send your blood pressure through the roof, which isn’t conducive to a successful session. Instead, consciously match your breathing to your lifting. Take a big inhalation as you lower the bar down to your chest, then exhale strongly through pursed lips as you press it back up. It’s an instant and effortless way to make each rep even more effective and feel easier!

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