Bench press is often neglected by sports coaches (at least in Sweden), which is strange to me. Bench press develops a powerful chest which I believe should be important in sports.
That said, bench press tends to get a bit too much attention. Especially by young men. So here are my 5 tips that can help you get good results from chest training.
Begin with push-ups
Learn push-ups, proper push-ups, push-ups on your knees doesn’t count. You should be able to do at the very least 10 proper push-ups before you go heavy on the barbell or dumbbells. It will give you the body control and awareness you need for heavy training.
Train your upper back
Charles Poliquin often said that you should do as many face-pulls as you do bench presses. I like to ad that you should do as much volume for your upper back as you do for your chest, or perhaps 25% more. Your back muscles often need more work to get the same development (as your chest). You need the strength of your back muscles to stabilize the shoulder joints during presses, pushes, punches or throwing activities.
Press from different angles
Avoid using only flat bench presses and fixed 45 degrees incline presses. Use an adjustable bench and vary the angle of the bench when doing barbell or dumbbell presses. This will help you develop the whole chest muscle (pectoralis major), which spans over a large area. It will also help to avoid over training.
Learn to do proper chest flyes
Charles Poliquin (yes, yes, him again, but he was a great coach, learn from the best) demonstrates proper chest flyes on Youtube. In near future I will do a video on how I do these, which is slightly different. The point he makes is that you should think about what the chest muscles actually do. What many forget is the inward/outward rotation of the arm. To fully stretch the chest muscle you need to rotate the arm outward when descending.
Learn to do proper dumbbell and barbell pullovers. These can help you to develop a deeper chest. Pullovers mainly train the deeper chest muscles and to some extent the back muscles. It’s a great exercise for the upper body in general. There are some controversy around this exercise, but learn how to do them and you’ll have another tool in your box.