There are many common bench press mistakes lifters make that seriously hold them back from benching more weight, and greatly increase their chance of injury. The good news is that most of these common mistakes are easily corrected! Let’s discuss a few of the HUGE problems you need to correct.
1. Feet Not Flat on the Ground
This is one of the most common mistakes you will see in the gym. You will always see some guy who is attempting to lift more weight than he can handle, while flailing his feet off the ground. If your feet are not flat on the ground, you will not have a strong base, and you will put lots of undue stress on your lower back and other joints. Keeping your feet flat and secure on the ground will give you a nice sturdy base and allow you to keep proper form throughout the movement.
2. Poor Grip on the Bar
It amazes me that many avid lifters who bench press regularly don’t have the proper grip and hand positions on the bar. You should make sure that you’re gripping the bar so that your forearms are perpendicular to the flat bench when the bar reaches your chest. If you aren’t, your grip must be adjusted, and is either too wide or too close. Your thumbs must also be wrapped around the bar as this will give you the extra stability you need. You should also make sure you are resting the bar on the lower part of your palm. Make sure it’s not too high up on your hand and not too far down towards your wrist as this could cause serious injury.
3. No Spotter
Seriously… do NOT bench press without a spotter! You are just asking for trouble. As you start to progress towards heavier weights, a spotter will be mandatory so get in the habit of ALWAYS bench pressing with a spotter regardless of how light you go.
4. Bouncing Bar Off Chest
This is something I see almost every time I go to the gym. Some young weight lifter slamming and bouncing the bar off their chest. You are bench pressing to improve your muscular development in your upper body and get stronger, not to see how much momentum you can get while slamming the bar off your chest. Challenge yourself and don’t cheat your reps! You aren’t reaping all of the amazing benefits of the bench press by bouncing it off your chest.
5. Butt Off Bench while Pressing Up
Another one of my pet peeves! Watch someone do this next time they are lifting heavy weight – you can see the strain on their lower back! This is one of the easiest ways to seriously injure your lower back, so make sure to NEVER lift your butt off the bench when you are pressing up.
6. Repeating Same Workout
Many lifters seem to do the same kind of lifting progression each bench press workout. This is the quickest way to plateau. I was in a horrible habit of attempting to see how many times I could throw up 225 lbs. every time I lifted. Once I started changing up my weight, repetitions, and rest periods between sets I noticed that the muscle confusion really kicked in and I was able to suddenly bench press more weight.
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