Success Stories

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How much DYA BENCH?

I remember a while ago one of my buddies said a personal trainer told him not to bench because its bad for shoulder health!  This Personal Trainer had good intentions but was very misinformed.  The Bench Press just like with any exercise done incorrectly can place you at an increased risk of injury.    You should recognize that Bench Pressing with good form using a program that is balanced is a great way to pack on slabs of muscle and lots of strengh to your upper body.   To learn about a safe way to bench read on...

Bench Press Body Placement: The first step for a safe and effective bench press is to line up the bench. A lot of gym’s do not have the free weight benches bolted to the floor and get misaligned through daily use. A lot of gym goers overlook this and in some ways it can be insignificant, but by making sure the bench is straight it will allow you to more easily position your body. It is not 100% important to line the bench up perpendicular to a wall but it is something that I have learned to do that makes it a lot easier to get my body in the right position. It is up to you what you line the bench up with, but try to pick something and do that every day you get on the bench. Some gyms will have the free weight bench bolted, which means you will be lined up already.  
Once the bench is lined up how you want, check to make sure that if the barbell is resting securely. A quick shake will tell you if for example a peg is fully locked in. Doing this is extremely important for users at all levels because normally when you rack the weight you want it to stay racked rather than have your weights slide off, or worse have it drop on you. After loading your weight sit on the front of the bench with your back to the bar. When you look down at your legs they should be roughly at a 45 degree angle to the bench (this is where it helps to have things lined up with the walls). You then want to square up so that your shoulders are parallel with the bar. Take a deep breath so that your chest is out and your shoulders are back, there should be an arch in your lower back. This is the position you want to maintain when you lay back onto the bench. Lay back and adjust your butt as necessary so that you can reach the following appropriate position under the bar. 
When you are under the bar you want to line yourself up so that your eyes when looking straight ahead are roughly centered on the bar, basically if a line was drawn vertically down from the bar it would hit your eye. It is okay to be a little bit below or a little bit above depending on your torso size, but by doing this when you take the bar out to where you will press it you will have clearance from the rack, and the bar will go right to where you want to perform the exercise while putting minimal strain and potential for injury on the shoulders, as well as clear the rack so you do not hit it while performing the exercise. 
There are many ways to grip the bar to perform a proper bench press, and those will be explored further in another segment. The golden rule however is symmetry, as long as you have symmetry you will be safe, the width of your grip will depend on what your goals are. Almost all barbells have two strips on them where the bar is not knurled. What ever width you decide, make sure each hand is grabbing the bar in the same spot in relation to these strips. For example I grip the bar 2 fingers in from these smooth patches.  

To sum up, when you are ready to take the bar off the rack here is a checklist to run through:  

1. You are square with the bar 
2. Your legs are at roughly a 45 degree angle from the bench on both sides 
3. Your eyes are approximately level with the Bar 
4. Your chest is out and lower back is arched so that your shoulders and butt are both in constant contact with the bench 5. Your hands are gripping the bar symmetrically

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