A bench press takes incredible strength as you hoist a bar with heavy weights on each end up over your chest. To do proper bench presses, strong stabilizer muscles are necessary to help prevent injury and to help you get an effective workout. Building stabilizer muscles is not difficult, but will take hard work and dedication. The payoff will be an increased ease of doing bench presses, as well as more muscle tone and definition.
Your stabilizer muscles are located deep beneath your primary muscles. Stabilizer muscles are usually smaller and weaker than your primary muscles, but they serve an essential function in your body's ability to move properly, notes James Stoppani, author of "Encyclopedia of Muscle and Strength." Stoppani also notes that the amount of activity and exertion your primary muscles are able to endure depends on how strong your stabilizer muscles are. Increasing the strength of your stabilizer muscles might help you execute weight-training moves, such as the bench press, more effectively and with increasing amounts of weight.
To do a traditional bench press, lie flat on your back on a bench. At the top of the weight bench there is a rack that holds your barbell. A bench press can be done with various amounts of weights, but the amount on each end should be the same. To begin, your spotter lifts the barbell and helps you grasp it comfortably in each hand. Once your hands are placed comfortably, lower the barbell to the middle of your chest, exhale and slowly raise the bar over your chest and chin. Lower and repeat. At then end of your set, your spotter removes the barbell from your hands and places it back on the rack.
A bench press involves several different muscle groups, including your arms, chest, shoulders and abdomen. Focus on each of these muscle groups to help build the stabilizer muscle groups necessary to improve your bench-press performance. Stoppani reports that using dumbbells will help strengthen your stabilizer muscles. Do biceps and triceps curls with dumbbells to help build the stabilizer muscles in your arms. Dumbbell presses, lifts and rows will help strengthen the stabilizer muscles in your chest and shoulders. Sit on a balance ball to do curls and lifts with the dumbbells to also give your core muscles an effective workout.
Do not do a bench press without a spotter. Because the barbell is often heavy, the risk of dropping it on your chest increases without a spotter. Do not lift your back off the bench as your lower and lift the barbell. This might result in injury and won't provide you with an effective workout. Gradually add more weight when you bench press to help prevent injury. Don't set a goal for how much you would like to bench press and add that much weight to begin. It might take weeks or months to reach your goal, but working on your stabilizer muscles will help speed the process along.
- American Council on Exercise: Barbell Bench Press
- Encyclopedia of Muscle and Strength; James Stoppani
- NASM Essentials of Corrective Exercise Training; National Academy of Sports Medicine