The bench press is probably the most free popular free weight exercise there is. Easier to learn than squats, not as grueling as the deadlift, it is a productive upper body exercise that anyone can learn in one or two sessions. The bench press focuses on the chest, shoulder and triceps muscles. There are many machines that allow you to do a seated or lying chest press, but this article deals only with the standard bench press. If you don’t learn proper bench press technique you can injure your shoulder, elbows and the connective tissues.
Setting up to Bench
To get the most out of this exercise and to decrease your chances of injury you have to learn correct bench press technique. Lie on the bench with your hips and back of your head flat against it. Create a solid base with your feet flat on the floor.
Getting the Right Grip
Find the correct grip by lowering the empty bar down to your chest and pause it there. Note the position of your forearms. You’ll have the greatest leverage advantage with your forearms perpendicular to the floor.
Performing the Repetitions
Lying on your back, take the barbell from the rack and hold it over your eyes at arm’s length and take a deep breath. Lower the weight under control to your lower chest and pause for a count before pressing the weight up with your chest shoulders and triceps. As you begin to press exhale forcefully. The bar will naturally arc slightly back so when your arms are extended at the top position the bar will be over your eyes again.
Things to Avoid
Plenty of machines offer the ability to perform seated and lying chest press exercises, but if you’re physically able the free weight bench press will be your most productive choice. With this choice comes the responsibility to do it right and to do it safely. Below is a quick list of don’ts to keep you on the right track.
- Power lifters have developed a technique where they arch their backs to a great degree to lift more weight, but you should avoid this dangerous practice.
- Use a standard closed handed grip instead of a thumb less grip. The bar can role out of your hands and land on your neck.
- Never bench press heavy without a competent spotter who can help you rack the barbell if necessary.
- Always lower the weight all the way to your chest with a quick pause – this means NO BOUNCING the weight.
Always bench with a spotter or bench inside a power rack. (This takes a bit of practice to get the positioning right, but is safe and effective. Spotters allow for you to push yourself to your max without breaking you bench press technique.