If you’re looking to maximize the involvement of your pectorals in your bench pressing-and you’re not worried about how much poundage you can “Max”-try using these techniques to develop a full, thick chest.
Remember, this is clearly a muscle-building rather than a power lifting style bench press technique. It’s aimed at isolating and working the muscle as directly as possible.
When you bench press this way, you won’t be able to lift huge weights, but you will get better pec development.
[Note: if you’re interested in both lifting the big weights and developing a full chest, try alternating doing bench pressing with this technique and the more common power lifting technique from one chest training session to the next]
Here are the key points:
Us a three contact point form: feet, butt, shoulders. Your feet should be in contact firmly with the floor at all times. Your butt and shoulders should maintain solid contact with the bench. Arch your back, but do not-I repeat DO NOT-lift your butt into the air . . . we’re working pecs here not quads!
Be sure to tuck your shoulder blades underneath your body. Focus on pulling them inward so they touch, then downward as if toward your hips. This should force your chest outward and upward. This is precisely what you want and what will enable you to optimally train your pecs, not your front delts. This should also give you the desired natural arch to your lower back. An added benefit to this part of the technique is that it will also stabilize your rotator cuff more, allowing only one end (the insertion) to move, and the other end (the origin) to remain stable.
The next key factor in the technique is hand spacing. This part is easy to demonstrate but a bit difficult to explain. When your upper arm is in line with the body (bar not quite touching the chest) on the way down, your elbow should be at a 90% bend. In other words, when your upper arms are parallel to the floor, your forearms are pointing straight up and down, your wrists form a line with your elbows that points straight into the ground at a 90% angle. To get a sense for this position, hold your arms out to your sides, palms down (like you’re a kid pretending to fly). Now bend your elbows to a 90° angle keeping your upper arms still. Your hands should be about 8 inches or so out in front of your chest. Now pull your hands into your chest by pulling your shoulder blades together. Feel the stretch in your pecs? This is what you’re after
. Lower the bar at a steady pace-you’re not in a rush here. Now, touch the bar to your chest lightly; maintain control and don’t bounce the bar off your chest-remember, this is not about how much weight you can lift; it’s about how full and thick you can get those pecs. Keep the tension on your pecs at all times. Touch the bar to your chest about 2/3 of the way up your sternum (breastbone). Finally, return it in virtually a straight line to the lockout position.
With a little practice and focus, you’ll find that this technique will maximize your chest muscle development. It works because it isolates your pecs by cutting out your front delts significantly. It is primarily because of this and the focus on form that your poundages may initially drop.
The technique forces your chest to overcompensate for the lack of deltoid involvement; in doing so, your pecs have no choice but to grow. Do the movement right and you should expect to get a great pump and have some very sore pecs for a few days.