Bench Pressing, for those of you who may not know what it is, is a common exercise in weightlifting. It can be done on a bench or the ground with a barbell and weight plates. The goal is to lift as much weight as possible up to our chest and then back down to the starting position. It is an excellent exercise for developing shoulder, chest, and arm strength.
Bench Pressing Tips
The first thing to do when Bench Pressing is to set your grip on the bar. Instead of having your hands next to each other, try adjusting them slightly outside shoulder-width apart. Your palms should be facing forward or slightly inward, never outward away from your body towards your shoulders. Care must be taken not to allow the wrists to bend back as this will place extreme stress on them and could result in injury. Many people place themselves at risk at this stage by not allowing their fingers enough room on the barbell’s knurling (the rough diamond-shaped surface on the bar). They try gripping with just their fingertips which can lead to their hands slipping during the lift. You should grip so that you can feel your knuckles pressing into the bar, not just the fingertips.
Once you have set your grip, un-rack the bar by removing it from the rack and step back so that you are clear of it. Once this is done, pause for a second before beginning your lift to mentally prepare yourself for what is to come. This will help keep you focused on your Bench Pressing objective rather than having any distractions deal with once you are already lifting weights off of the ground.
As with all weightlifting activities where there’s any danger involved, everyone must exercise caution when performing the Bench Press. Depending on how much weight has been loaded onto the bar, it can be extremely dangerous to the person benching if the bar should come down and smash their face or neck. For this reason, always ensure that there is a spotter present when lifting heavyweights.
To begin the lift, slowly lower the barbell towards your chest. Take care to keep your back pressed firmly against the bench and your shoulder blades squeezed together. Once the barbell touches your chest (or as close as you can get it), press it back up to the starting position. Be sure to use your legs and not just your arms to do the pressing; remember, you are trying to lift the weight, not just move air! Exhale as you press the barbell upwards.
If You Are New
If you’re new to the Bench Press, it’s normal to find that as you breathe out your chest raises off of the bench; don’t worry, this is just a temporary effect and as soon as you’ve finished locking out the arms on the top position it’ll drop back down again.
Once the bar is safely back in its resting place, allow yourself a short breather before trying another lift. To avoid straining any muscles, do not at any time lock your joints by extending them completely, this can cause a great deal of strain and lead to injury. Make each lift count.
Bench Pressing becomes harder as weight levels increase so always be mindful of how much weight you have loaded onto the bar if that amount seems too heavy. In addition, do not Bench Press more than you can lift safely. At the end of the day, it is all about taking things slowly and concentrating on every step in the process.