Bench Press Variations
There are many variations to the bench press that will emphasize different areas of your chest. Hitting your chest at different angles will make sure that you are getting the most out of your workouts for the best results.
You may be doing the same bench press variation for weeks and not even realize it. It could just be habit but when you learn that there are different ways to hit your chest and each of them have their incredible benefits, than you would start applying them right away!
Chest muscles are activated by pushing exercises. Any exercise performed in a pushing way will work out the chest. When you do the opposite, any exercise that involves pulling, it works the back. Although the muscles in the chest are slightly used when you pull, they are not worked to the extent that pushing would.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do any back exercises for a bigger chest. Believe it or not, you need to balance out the muscles all over your body to increase overall strength and muscle mass.
When your chest is sore, or if you want to combine chest with pulling, you will increase more blood flow and strength will be increased by even more. Superset involving chest and back are a great combination for a change in one’s program.
With that in mind, when you do the bench press you can change your hand placement on the bar. The wider you go, the more of your chest is used.
And the shorter the grip, more triceps would be used. In any variation of the bench press, you can’t take out any muscle of the equation as it is all used as one but you can emphasize where it hits more.
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The wide grip hits more of your outer chest and less triceps is activated. The range of motion is shorten but not by much. You may find yourself using less weight, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an equally great exercise for your chest as the other ones are.
Even though you are using less weight, you are concentrating on using the chest more than any other muscle. There is a limit to how wide you can go and if you have any shoulder problems then you should be really careful or even possibly avoid this variation all together.
This one is the most common hand placement. It’s the standard of bench press and all your chest muscles are equally emphasized.
The hand placement is less than shoulder width apart and more triceps are emphasized in this exercise. It still works out your chest but not as much as shoulder width or wide would.
The decline bench press works the lower chest more and it's considered when the bench is anywhere around 30 degrees. Dips and decline both emphasize the lower chest.
The flat bench press is the most commonly used exercise for the chest. It works the chest but it only emphasizes the middle of the chest. It's great for overall development of the chest.
The incline bench press emphasizes the upper chest area and it is done when the bench is anywhere around 45 degrees.
This exercise is shoulder friendly and very effective for your chest. You should perform this exercise more often to keep your shoulders safe and to allow them to recover from previous bench pressing workouts.
Remember that nothing is set in stone.
There is no best variation when it comes to chest exercises. It's always how you do them and what you do to make the exercise more challenging. No one can build your body for you except you. For the best results, mix up your workout now and then to shock your body and don’t focus on one thing just because someone else said it gives the best results.
If you have a weakness point in your chest like maybe the upper chest isn’t as big as you want it to be then obviously you should focus on the incline variations more often to emphasize it. Apply these variations right away to see how you feel with each one.
It’s important to check your form to make sure you’re doing it right. Also to cut the risk of injury and for the best gains, warm up your muscles with the empty bar and add the weight slowly. This is so you have more blood flow and don’t eat right before your workouts. Give time to digest your food.
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