September 10, 2021 9 min read

It is incredibly important to have a proper warm-up. It will help you get through the rest of your workout routine easier, and it will also help you prevent injuries from pushing your body to the limit.

If you are looking for warm-up exercises that are specifically designed for bench pressing, then you have come to the right place.

Here is the basic outline of what we recommend for a bench pressing warm-up:

  • Start with a simple, general warm-up to increase your body temperature
  • Pick certain mobility drills that increase your blood flow to restricted muscles
  • Perform a dynamic stretching routine to improve your range of motion
  • Use activation exercises to prime your stabilizing muscles for benching

If this looks like a lot, do not worry. Once explained, these things will actually be much more simple than they appear. It is absolutely normal to be overwhelmed when trying to come up with the best warm-up routine since there are so many things to consider.

Do you tailor it to the exercises that come next, or do you need to maintain a variety of exercises so you do not warm up just the muscles you think you will be using? There is so much information out there, it can be difficult to sift through it all.

Of course, if you find that this kind of warm up does not suit you, then you can always look for a different one, but if you are just starting out and would like a good idea of what an effective warm-up is like, then let us walk you through this one.

General Warm-Up

You might already have an idea of the purpose of a general full-body warm-up and what it might look like. If you have joined a gym, people might already have shared with you the best way for them to get themselves ready for their favorite workout. Still, it is important to understand the science behind why a good general warm-up can make your other workouts much more effective.

Fitness man warming up in gym

The main purpose of the general warm-up is to raise your core temperature. This often implies a certain level of cardio training and raising of your heart rate. A study done in 2006 by Barroso et al demonstrated that even a low intensity warm-up that lasts only 15 minutes was already effective in terms of improving 1 rep max strength (3 to 4 percent higher).

A low intensity warm-up, in this scenario, meant only “breaking a light sweat”, so you can imagine what a better, more intense warm-up could do for you.For us, what works best for “breaking a light sweat” would be 15 minutes either on the stationary bike or the rower.

You could even combine both if you feel that you have not sufficiently raised your core body temperature levels. Even if you decide not to do the full 15 minutes, you should still try to squeeze in at least 5 minutes as it can still have an impact on your performance and endurance. This was demonstrated in a study done by Wilson et al.

If you are just starting out on your bench pressing journey, just remember this - the general warm-up is key for pretty much any exercise. Skipping the general warm-up is the most common rookie mistake that new bodybuilders make, and it can cause you to unnecessarily hurt yourself or get more sore than you would have otherwise. So remember to get those precious 15 minutes in, every time.

Mobility Drills For Bench Press

Mobility drills are designed to increase the blood flow to your muscles. This will help you restore and improve motion. If you have been working yourself very hard (doing stuff such as powerlifting, deadlifts, weight lifting, or strength training), then you might have already experienced tense or tight muscles.

When your muscles behave this way, your joint mobility is limited, which will in turn limit your ability to perform the kind of exercises you want to perform. If you are bench pressing, then you will especially require mobility in your shoulders and thoracic spine in order to get the full range of motion with the bar.

In order to fight against this issue and also generally increase shoulder mobility, you will want to incorporate self-massage therapy techniques using tools such as a foam roller or lacrosse ball. These will help you apply pressure to the right muscles. It is important to note, however, that mobility drills using self-massage therapy techniques are in no way a long-term fix.

While they should be able to help you do your exercises with a wider range of motion, you should also think about adding additional interventions that will allow you to make progress in the long term.

While mobility drills are genuinely an important part of your warm-up, it is also important to not overdo them. Our suggestion is that you stick to 1 to 3 of the exercises we will describe below, and do them for about 60 to 90 seconds for 5 to 10 strokes. You can vary which one you do on different days so you get the full range of exercises.

  • Lats: The first thing you will want to do is lie sideways on the foam roller. Then, you will want to apply pressure on your lat muscle. Make sure to roll the areas that you feel are tighter the most.
  • Pec Major: Since the pec major is quite a big muscle group, you want to make sure you reach all the areas that might be tight. You should start closer to your shoulder and then roll the foam roller inwards toward the midline of the body.
  • Pec Minor: You will find your pec minor beneath your armpit, so you should do this mobility drill on the floor where you will be able to apply more pressure.
  • Thoracic Spine: You want to start by moving both the upper and the mid-back by flexing and extending on the foam roller. As an added exercise, you can also apply pressure to what is called the erector spinae. The erector spinae sits on either side of your spine.

Dynamic Stretching for Bench Press

There are several benefits to dynamic stretching.

It will help lengthen your muscles as well as improve its functioning when you are lifting. You may already be aware of the importance of stretching, but what a lot of people do not know is that there are actually two kinds of stretching, which are dynamic stretching and static stretching.

The main difference between them is that during dynamic stretching, you will move your muscles in and out of a specific range of motion for a certain number of times (usually 15 to 30 times), while during static stretching, you will hold your muscles in a range of motion for a certain period of time (usually around 30 to 60 seconds).

Activation Exercises for Bench Press

The purpose of an activation exercise is to help stabilize your smaller muscle groups. These smaller muscle groups will help you support your prime mover muscles. When you are doing a bench press, you will be using your chest, your shoulders, and your triceps as your prime movers; however, there will be many other smaller muscle groups that you will also be using to aid in those movements.

These smaller muscle groups will mainly be located in your rotator cuff and your upper back.We recommend that you choose one or two exercises from the list below, and you do one to two reps of 10 to 15 reps. You should try to rotate these exercises to make sure you are getting enough diversity in your workouts and to make sure that you are not overworking your bigger muscle groups.

Band Pull Apart

For this specific upper body exercise, you will want to use a resistance band that you will be able to handle for 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 20 repetitions. You should avoid choosing too hard of a resistance level so you can fully get through all the sets and all the repetitions.

athletic man stretching with resistance band outdoors on building rooftop

You should hold the band at shoulder height (and slightly wider than shoulder-width) with an underhand grip. You should keep your arms long and only slightly bent at the elbows. You should stand with your feet hip-width apart, and you should keep a slight bend in your knees. Make sure that you stand tall and with your shoulders over your hips, and a neutral head and neck position.

Keep your chin tucked in throughout this movement and make sure your weight is evenly distributed throughout your body. Grip the floor strongly with your feet so you keep stable.Then, what you will need to do is rotate your shoulders outward with your shoulder blades slightly protracted. This will engage both your lats and your upper back.

Tense your shoulders and your hips and engage your core. Then, you wanna squeeze your upper back as well as your posterior deltoids and try to pull the band apart. This will make your shoulder blades retract.When you have positioned your upper arms in line with your back, you should squeeze your upper back muscles together with your posterior deltoids and keep the position for a few seconds.

Then, while keeping your back straight, you should let your shoulder blades protract and return to the beginning position.

Prone Trap 3 Raise

You will start by lying down on your chest on an incline bench. Then, you will get a pair of light dumbbells and let them hang straight down at your sides while keeping a slight bend in your elbows. For the movement, you will want to raise the dumbbells upwards and outwards. You should finish the movement making your body do a “Y” shape, with your arms positioned at the top.

Scapular Push Up

For the Scapular Push Up, you will need to set up a high plank position. This means you will have your hands under your shoulders as well as keeping your feet together. Make sure your body is completely straight. You should then press your chest out and pinch your shoulder blades together while making sure that you do not bend your elbows or drop your hips.

You should also keep in mind that you should not tuck your chin or perk your head up forward. Since this is not a push up, and you are doing a very small range of motion, just keep your focus on pinching your shoulder blades together throughout the movement. Then, you will relax your muscles and go back to the original position. You must remember to keep your core tight for the entirety of this exercise.

Wall Slides

You may have heard of these ones before. You may have even done them in PE before - and just like your teacher may have said at the time, they are actually a really good and useful exercise. The way you do it is by standing upright against the wall using your back. Make sure that your feet are shoulder-width apart.

Then, you will need to bring your arms up and press your shoulders into the wall. Your hands (the back of your hands, to be more specific) will be up against the wall. Your thumbs should be at the same height as your head. Your upper arms should be perpendicular to the floor.

Then you can slowly start bending your knees and slide your body down the wall. You want to keep sliding until your knees are bent at a 45-degree angle. If you slide down any further than this, you will risk putting unnecessary strain on your knees.

You should also straighten your elbows so that your arms are straight over your head (but do keep them against the wall). You should remain in this position for 5 seconds, then slide back up to the original position. You should repeat this movement for 5 reps.

DB Serratus Pullover

To do this movement, you should have a dumbbell in each hand. Then, you should extend your arms over your chest. Make sure your palms are positioned facing each other and your elbows are kind of bent and soft. Lastly, you should inhale and start extending the weights back and over your head.

Keep this position for 3 to 4 seconds, and then pull your arms back to the starting position. You should make sure your elbows remain soft during this exercise and your back and core strong.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have gotten through all of these steps, you can finally get down to your bench pressing training session.

When you are fully comfortable with all of these steps, you should only take about 15 minutes to get through the warm-up sets, and those 15 minutes can be precious in terms of helping your main workout go smoother, making your performance better, and making your likelihood for a training-related injury much, much lower.

After a few weeks, you might even find a better warming up style for you, and come up with a routine that works the best for you!


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