The bench press is a gym favorite, especially among men and frequent gym-goers. Women, too, can and should bench press, but typically bench pressing has been a measure of manliness. Ironically enough, those who bench press for ego gratification and to feel more macho than the next guy can almost always be found committing grave errors in their form and their training protocol that will come at the expense of their results, posture, and long-term joint health.
Don’t be that guy. Here are some bench press tips for the new year.
Learn How to Setup Properly for the Bench Press
Most people who bench press simply lie down on the bench and begin pumping reps away. Don’t do that. Pay attention to how you set up before you begin pumping iron.
- Set your feet underneath you properly. This will allow you to create tension and stability throughout your body.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together forcefully and pin them down tightly onto the bench. This will give you a stable base to press off of and will protect your shoulders.
- From here grab the barbell, make sure your grip is even, and unrack the bar.
- Do not let your wrists sag backward, instead make sure your knuckles point to the ceiling. Do this by squeezing the bar and your forearms as hard as you can.
- Lower the bar under control down to your sternum or an inch or two below your nipples.
- Keep your elbows tucked at a 775-degree angle. DON’T let them flare out to 90 degrees. This will protect your shoulders and elbows.
- Raise the bar with force, as if you are punching the ceiling.
- Continue pressing your heels into the ground, squeezing your shoulder blades, keeping your elbows tucked, and your knuckles pointed up throughout the entire exercise. NEVER sacrifice form for weight.
Leave Your Ego at the Door and Warm Up Properly
All too often, out of insecurity and fear of looking weak, people will start right away with moderate to heavyweight. If you want to get injured, minimize your performance, and not maximize your results, then by all means skip warming up.
If you’d like to do the opposite, then always take yourself through a light warm up and gradually work up to higher weights in order to prime your muscles, joints, and nervous system before doing heavy compound exercises such as bench pressing.
Don’t Neglect Your Backside
It is important to train your rear deltoids, your upper back muscles, and work on your torso’s mobility in order to maintain a strong and healthy posture. If you do not do this in conjunction with frequent bench pressing, you will develop rounded shoulders and poor posture. This can leave you prone to shoulder injuries, as well as thoracic spine and neck issues.