THE BENCH PRESS
Almost anyone who has stepped foot inside a gym has made the bench priority one at some point. After all, a big bench equals a big chest. And who doesn’t want a massive chest that’s the envy of all? So why has an exercise that was once an, ahem, benchmark for strength and size been kicked to the curb like yesterday’s outdated software? Most people will tell you that they steer clear of it for fear of a torn pec or rotator cuff injury. That’s too bad, because the bench press is still the big daddy of upper-body exercises — as long as it’s done the right way. That’s where we come in. On the following pages, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to performing this exercise for both monster chest growth and a jaw-dropping retort to the inevitable — and annoying — question, how much do you bench?
1. Lie on a flat bench with your feet flat on the ground, beyond shoulder width and your legs bent at about a 90-degree angle.
2. Keep a slight arch in your lower back to maintain the natural curve of your spine.
3. Keep your glutes tightly contracted; press your shoulders and glutes into the bench.
4. Grip the bar slightly beyond shoulder width.
5. In order to increase the pressure in your chest and abdominal cavity, take a big breath and hold it as you lower the weight.
FLEX TIP: THE BAR SHOULD NOT BE IN YOUR SIGHTLINE WHEN IT IS RACKED. IF IT IS, YOU RISK BUMPING THE RACK WITH THE BAR WHEN PRESSING THE WEIGHT UP.
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