The French press with a barbell is one of the most used exercises in the gym for training the triceps. It is used for hypertrophic purposes, which is why it is very popular in the world of bodybuilding. But what is the correct execution and what are the mistakes to avoid? Let’s do an analysis of this exercise to clarify the ideas!
French Press With Barbell: Correct Execution
The French press is a monoarticular exercise (ie involves the involvement of only one joint) that consists of an extension of the elbow against gravity with a supine barbell on a flat bench. The repetition begins with the shoulder at 90 ° flexion (humerus perpendicular to the ground) and the elbow flexed at 110 ° and ends with a full elbow extension.
The position described above will allow you to have continuous tension throughout the entire range of motion. Finish the repetition with your elbows fully extended.
Varying the inclination of the bench indirectly changes the degree of shoulder flexion at the start: this increases the initial stretch of the triceps which, again according to the tension-length diagram, will be disadvantaged in the expression of strength compared to the execution on the flat bench. . The more you tilt the bench, the less force you will be able to express and the less you will lift.
Mistakes To Avoid
The main mistake to avoid is the opening of the elbows during the execution: this compensation will change the type of movement from monoarticular (elbow extension) to multiarticular due to the intervention of the shoulder, which will compensate the movement through an abduction on the plane. horizontal, combined with elbow extension.
Taking advantage of the shoulder surgery is not wrong from an anatomical-functional point of view when performed with awareness and with complete excursion: the triceps thanks to its long head is a shoulder extensor given its posterior scapular insertion. However, it is absolutely necessary to correct if this compensation is used as a strategy in order to overcome the weight thanks to inertia.
Combining the shoulder extension with the elbow extension also makes little sense if the goal is to favor the mechanical work of the triceps:
- bringing the shoulder into flexion during the eccentric phase risks reducing the time under tension of the triceps,
- during the concentric phase, the first shoulder extension phase starting from maximum flexion will involve other muscles such as the sternocostal bundles of the pectoral and grand dorsal.
To avoid this, the indication is to bring the parallel balance wheel to the upper part of the forehead.
Muscles Involved In The French Press
As we have already explained previously, the movement involves an extension of the elbow against gravity, therefore the muscles activated will be the elbow extensors in this case the brachial triceps. Furthermore, given the importance of shoulder stability during execution, the muscles necessary to maintain this condition will also be activated
Variants Of The French Press With Barbell
The French press exercise can be done with either a straight or a shaped barbell. The straight barbell for joint reasons favors the opening of the elbows and does not guarantee the necessary joint joints in the elbow due to the supine position.
Therefore, it is not recommended both for reasons of muscle activation due to possible compensation with the shoulder, but above all for the risks of joint overload on the elbow, especially in subjects who have had problems with epicondylitis.
The l -shaped rocker instead gives the possibility of an asemi-pronated grip that will protect the elbow during the arc of movement. By virtue of this, the shaped barbell is preferred in this exercise.
Where To Do The Barbell French Press?
Flat bench and 30 ° bench
The French press with a barbell can be performed both on the bench (with different degrees of inclination) and on the floor. The inclination of the bench makes the exercise more complicated: this variant will in fact change the degrees of shoulder flexion, bringing the triceps to the maximum stretch position.
According to the tension-length diagram, this condition will disadvantage the production of force compared to the execution on a flat bench: consequently the greater the degrees of inclination of the bench and the less load will be moved.
Lying on the ground
Performing the exercise on the floor does not involve large variations in movement so it can be a valid proposal for those who train at home.
Furthermore, it should be noted that exercise does not create an overload on the back; therefore, there is no point in flexing the hips and lifting the feet while running. At the most, this indication could be useful for subjects with an anteversion pelvis in order to avoid accentuating lumbar extension.
French Press Workout With Barbell
As for the insertion of the French press in a training sheet, we can make some considerations. As you could read in the article ” The volume of training in bodybuilding ” the number of repetitions can be set according to the muscle groups.
You can think of dedicating 30 repetitions to the French press if you want to work in a range of a maximum of 90 repetitions to dedicate to the triceps, repetitions to be achieved with other exercises for the triceps, and then eventually increase this amount when you decide to increase the volume. of work.
As for the number of series and the relative subdivision, they can be set according to your goals: if you want to improve the strength of your triceps then you will have to divide the repetitions into many series ensuring a complete recovery between them in order to guarantee correct execution. with relatively heavy loads.
If, on the other hand, your goal is to hypertrophy the triceps then you will have to distribute the repetitions in a smaller number of sets in order to increase the time under tension during the exercise, thus guaranteeing greater metabolic stress.