How to Do Barbell French Press Properly

Barbell French press is one of the most ideal exercises if you are looking to build your triceps.

At the mention of arm workouts, most people often focus on the biceps, because after all, don’t biceps have the most aesthetic benefits?

But by doing so they may overlook an equally important group of muscles, important for the mobility and stability of the upper body – the triceps.

HOW TO DO A BARBELL FRENCH PRESS

When it comes to doing a barbell French press, there is something for everybody! There are variations that suit your current needs and help you reach your exercise goals.

The most common version of this exercise is done standing:

  • In the beginning, make sure your feet are hip-width apart and bend the knees ever so slightly
  • Grab the bar and push it overhead and straighten your arms
  • Once overhead, bend the elbows and bring it behind your head
  • Lift it again above your head
  • Do as many reps as you discover

WHAT MUSCLES DO BARBELL FRENCH PRESS WORK?

TRICEPS

The primary muscle worked by the barbell French press is the triceps. The triceps are made up of three heads and makes up most of the arm muscle mass.

This exercise specifically works the long head of the triceps.

BARBELL FRENCH PRESS BENEFITS

INCREASES THE TRICEPS SIZE

The work involved in moving the barbell from the front of your body to the back works all three heads of the triceps thus increasing their size. It does this while not putting strain on the wrists.

FIXES TRICEPS IMBALANCES

If you have overlooked the triceps when working out by focusing solely on the biceps, you can correct this imbalance with this exercise.

If you truly want muscular arms you have to work both the triceps and the biceps. It is also ideal for rehabilitating injured triceps

STRENGTHENS TRICEPS

Triceps play a key role in performing daily activities, especially those that involve pushing and pulling.

Doing this exercise makes it easier to not only do these activities with ease but helps you avoid injury while doing them.

BARBELL FRENCH PRESS ALTERNATIVES

SEATED BARBELL FRENCH PRESS

For the seated variation:

  • Sit on a bench and make sure your back has enough support
  • Grab the bar from the rack and lift it above your head
  • Bring it slowly behind your head, ensure your elbows are tucked as you do this
  • Bring the arms to the initial position
  • Do as many reps as you would wish

SKULL CRUSHER/ LYING TRICEPS EXTENSION

The skull crusher is done lying on your back. It gets it names from the fact that a small slip might actually cause you to crush your skull.

That is why it is very important to use weights that you can easily lift and which you can lift repeatedly until the exercise takes effect.

  • Lie on the bench and make sure your whole body, save for the legs, is actually on the bench.
  • Keep your knees bent and legs rooted firmly on the floor
  • Grip the bar with arms shoulder-width apart
  • Bring the bar towards your head and take it all the way to the back of your head
  • Bring the bar until it is in front of your chest
  • Repeat this movement as many times as you would wish

BARBELL FRENCH PRESS MISTAKES TO AVOID

This exercise can and will help you grow your triceps without a doubt. However, if done wrongly, it can prove to do more bad than good.

Avoid these mistakes to get the most gains from this exercise.

USING HEAVY WEIGHTS

This exercise involves manoeuvring the bar to the back of your head, while doing that it could slip from your hands and in a worst-case scenario, fall on your head.

There is a good reason behind one of its variations being referred to as skull crusher. Apart from falling on your head, it also has the potential to pull your arms backwards and cause serious injury.

Start with very lightweight, even just the bar itself if you must. Then as you master the technique, progressively add weight as you get comfortable.

WIDE GRIP

When you use a wide grip with this exercise, you minimize the tension on the triceps. A narrow grip focuses the stress. Thus, keeping the hands shoulder-width on the bar is what you should be.

NOT TUCKING THE ELBOWS IN

While this exercise does not expressly work the elbows, they play a vital role nonetheless. You can have two outcomes with this type of exercise; either have strong elbows or injured elbows.

To prevent the latter outcome, keep your elbows tucked in as much as possible.

MAINTAIN THE WRONG FORM

When you start getting the hang of this exercise, you may find that you are being excessively obsessed with the number of reps you can fit into a session. Do not do that.

Once you start getting tired, give yourself the grace to stop and come back another time.

You can easily drop the bar when you are tired but want to keep going. It is, therefore, best to know when to stop.

LOOSE GRIP

A loose grip means the bar can easily slip from your grasp and fall on your body. We recommend an overhand grip, where the palms face away from you in this exercise.

You can do other exercises to increase your grip strength before you start this workout.

CONCLUSION

The barbell French press is one exercise that can make you crush your fitness and big arm goals on one hand, or crush your head and your soul on the other hand.

Master the form, start light, keep things even and let your body grow into it and you will be just fine!