The bench press is one of the three lifts in the sport of power lifting and is used extensively in weight training, bodybuilding and other types of fitness training to develop the chest. Taking a step back and perfecting your technique can make the difference between a shoulder injury and training hard for many years to come. If you take your time and learn how to bench press correctly, and understand your individual limitations and weaknesses, your bench press weights and your fitness goals will have no limit.
There are very important key points to remember when performing the bench press to ensure proper form.
HOW TO BENCH PRESS CORRECTLY:
- Keep a tight grip on the bar at all times, with the elbows bent to 90° and the elbows beneath the wrists. A tighter grip equates to more tension in the lower arms, upper back and chest.
- Feet are kept flat on the floor, weight on the heels, lower leg perpendicular to the floor, with the buttocks always in contact with the bench. This prevents extreme arching of your lower back.
- Keep your chest up throughout the movement. Do not allow your chest to go flat or shoulders to roll forward. You’ll lose power & increase the risk of shoulder injury.
- Shoulder-blades are kept back, down and tight at all times. This gives your body a solid base to press the bar from.
- Movement starts by lifting the bar off of the pins, breathing in, and lowering it until it touches the chest.
- The weight is then pushed off of the chest in a straight line, while breathing out, terminating when the arms are straight, at which point the weight can be lowered again.
If you are using heavy weights, a "spotting partner" increases the safety of the movement. Returning to the basics and starting from scratch with your bench press technique may be the solution to your shoulder and elbow problems. But, it also might not be. Make it a goal to find the right exercises that work for you and start incorporating more fundamental exercises like the push-up.