For the life of me, I can’t ever remember, in any conversation I’ve ever had with anyone on my bodybuilding lifting stats, them asking me about any other lift before the bench press. Why? It’s the king, that’s why. It’s the ultimate test of upper-body strength, and, like it or not, if you can’t bench much for your size, your overall upper body is weak.
It seems simple, but the truth be told, it’s not. You’d think all there was to it was lowering the bar to the chest, then pushing it back up. That’s true, but, knowing exactly how to execute a bench press with proper form will make up the difference between benching safely, and injury; an impressive bench stat, or a poor one; hitting the muscles properly, or not.
First of all, everyone is different. For people who have long arms, a wider grip is recommended. This is because the bar will have to travel much less distance to achieve full lock-out, and also means you can keep your forearms vertical underneath the bar at all times – which is crucial.
For those with short or average length arms, a closer grip of slightly wider than shoulder width will do just fine.
Ok, now let’s talk you through it. First set yourself in the proper bench pressing position. On a flat bench, place yourself so your eyeballs are directly underneath the bar, and your legs are planted firmly into the floor – shins vertical.
Now, pinch your shoulder blades behind you as tight as you can, almost as if you are trying to crack a coconut between them. This helps your upper body to stay steady on the bench. Now, arch your back, this gives you more power when lifting by forcing your shoulder blades into the bench and also means you have to lift less of a distance.
Now, un-rack the bar, and bring over the nipple area with the arms fully locked out. Keeping your eyes fixed on an object above the bar (providing it’s not a cloud which is moving, anything will do) lower the bar to the chest, toughing lightly, and explosively press back up to the object above you had fixated on – you should keep your eyes on this object the entire time. (Depending on arm length or preference, you can bench from slightly below the nipple, on it, or slightly above it.)
That’s it – you’ve just performed a good bench press repetition.