The bench press is a great way to work the chest, as well as the shoulders and triceps. Avoid injury and work the proper muscles by using these simple tips. You might consider using a spotter if you are challenging yourself with a heavier weight or added reps.
Choose one of the three hand grips to change the focus of muscle groups and to vary the intensity:
Normal grip – is the best place to start. Set hands so they are slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
Close grip – will challenge your triceps a bit more. Plan on using a lighter weight to start with.
Wide grip – will challenge the stability of your shoulder joint the most. Practice normal or close grip before starting with wide.
1. Lie back on the bench and plant your feet onto the floor. Avoid placing your feet onto the bench as this will require more core stability and not generally safe if this is your first go at the bench press. Feet on the floor will ensure torso stability and keep your focus on chest, shoulders and triceps. Determine your hand grip, press the bar upward and off the rack.
2. Lower the bar toward your chest with control. Avoid resting the bar onto the chest to avoid additional strain at the shoulder joint.
3. Press the bar straight upward with an exhale.
4. Avoid locking the elbows at the top of the movement.
Try to keep spine and shoulders supported and in good alignment on the bench. Straining through low back or neck and shoulders may indicate too much weight and/or fatigue. If this happens, adjust the weight or reps and try again.