The general rule of bodybuilding says that bench press is a chest, triceps and shoulder exercise and being a compound exercise, it engages multiple muscle groups at a time. However, it’s highly likely that one of your muscles will be lagging and performing less work. Unfortunately, those are your pecs and is the only reason as to why you aren’t seeing the bulk on your chest.
While this isn’t the only problem. I’ve heard from a lot of guys that they don’t feel their pecs while benching and there are two obvious reasons:
- First and foremost, people are never taught how to use their ‘pecs’ while doing the bench press exercise.
- They, themselves have never learned how to teach anybody to use their pecs.
Whichever the case might be, the thing we’re focusing here are the pecs, and without properly engaging them, you can never build a better and bulkier chest.
Luckily, I have some great tips for you that tell how to activate your pecs.
How To Activate Your Pecs While Benching
Before I begin, I would clarify that these techniques apply to people who are benching for general fitness or hypertrophy. Though it can also apply to powerlifting bench pressing but there are other things to consider.
Without any further ado, let’s jump on learning on how to activate your pecs.
1. Lower The Amount of Weight You Lift
Even though it may seem that with more weight you can target the pec effectively and I hate to say it might disturb your ego but to learn the proper technique, you have to lower the weight. In most of the cases, if the barbell is loaded with too heavier plates, more chances are that you are only focused to somehow lift the barbell and not on your muscles.
This is what we call ego lifting and it causes your dominant body parts to take over. You should consider lowering the weight and focus more on the technique rather the weight you are benching.
2. Grabbing The Bar Really Hard
Grabbing the bar as hard as you can to form a strong base and increase the muscle tension is good. It activates the chest muscles immediately and ensures maximum engagement of the muscle fibers.
This also gives you the benefit of developing a strong grip strength. You’ll also feel tension in your biceps and forearms when holding really tight.
3. Lower The Bar Under Control
Don’t try to rush into the reps or bounce the barbell off your chest. Hold it really tight and lower it under full control. Most of the people feel satisfied with the lifting part and never focus on how to actually lower it.
Without any control when lowering the barbell, you’ll lose strength and your joints will also be compromised. The purpose is to get shredded and target the right muscle group and the only way to have maximum control and focus on the exercise you are doing. Also, avoid locking your elbows to maintain a constant tension.
4. Stick The Chest Out & Arch The Back
Even though you need some of it to stretch the chest out and pre-load it but arching it too much can be counter-productive. While benching, you should stick your chest out, flex the lats to stabilize shoulder blades and keep the shoulders pressing against the bench.
Focus more on pushing the shoulders against the bench because the moment you lose the tightness, your form will be compromised and can possibly cause an injury.
5. Never Keep The Elbows Too Close To Your Body
Try not to keep your elbows too close to your body. Instead, flare them to the sides a bit to keep a constant stretch in the pectoral muscles.
When you tuck them too close to the body, it actually reduces the tension on your chest muscles and puts more load on the front deltoids and upper arms. However, you shouldn’t flare them too much as this will only kill your shoulders in a heartbeat.