The Bench Press:
First and as an athlete, you have to understand your goals, and train in a manner commensurate with them. If you are a Powerlifter, you will be Bench Pressing to lift as much weight as is possible on competition day, and so your training must be aligned with that target. If you are football player, you will use the Bench Press as a tool to enhance your abilities on the field. Understanding your goals is of paramount importance, because it is those goals will dictate the grip that you choose, the rep schemata employed, and so on. Given the purposes of this web site, I will share what I believe to be the safest, and most effective manner, generally speaking, for engagement in the Bench Press.
You should always employ lift-offs when Bench Pressing (this person also serves as a spotter).
*Lie on the bench so that, as you look up, your eye brows are in line with the bar!
*This creates enough distance where you will, most likely and when driving the bar upward, avoid the safety features of the bench itself
*Your grip depends on your goal. If you are a Powerlifter, you will choose the grip that maximizes the amount of weight capable of being moved to the lift’s completion. If you are an athlete that uses the Bench Press to accentuate a different sport, then I recommend using a grip whereby the forearms will be perpendicular to the floor. This helps to protect the elbows, as well as the shoulders, and still allows for gains in strength. In fact, Powerlifters often train with this grip, as it facilitates excellent increases in tricep power.
*If you are a Powerlifter, you will want to develop as large of an arch in your back as possible, as this shortens the distance of the movement. Either way, you will want to pinch your shoulder blades together while simultaneously pulling them into the equipment. You will also force your chest up, and out.
*Your wrists should be straight.
*Your feet should be flat
*Take in air and acknowledge to the spotter that you are ready.
*The spotter should help you take the weight off of the rack, and help you to lower the bar directly over the point of shoulder rotation. You’ll know it, when it gets there. Any other location will cause a noticeable destabilization. What we are essentially doing, is temporarily eliminating the moment arm from the movement.
*As the spotter lifts the weight out to you, the elbows should be locked! In its travels to desired destination, the bar will be passing over the head, face, and throat. When you are as good looking as me, you don’t want to take chances! Seriously, this is a major threat to your safety and almost no one considers it. The same safety measures need to be applied when re-racking the weight, as well!
*Now that the bar is position, the spotter should release his or her grip.
*In a controlled manner, lower the bar to the chest. It should make contact, depending your shoulder structure and level of comfort, anywhere from 2-6 inches below the glenohumeral joint of the shoulder. This usually equates to, regardless of gender, about an inch or so below the nipple line.
*Drive the bar, as fast and explosively as is safely possible, to a locked elbows position.
*You should be pushing as hard as you can with your legs, too.
*When the desired number of reps have been completed, the spotter should reach out and grasp the bar. The spotter should then assist the lifter as he returns the bar, with elbows locked, atop the safety features of the apparatus!
*Remember, as in the squat, you are more fatigued at the end of the set than at the beginning. Your level of safety consciousness needs to be raised at the end of the movement. Ensure that the weight does not come crashing down on your throat because you let your guard down, and stopped perfoming too early! The lift is not over until you are off of the apparatus!