How to Perform a Proper Bench Press – Find Your Groove
The technique of a proper bench press is something you have to master and the only way you can is by benching and benching often – at least once a week. You have to find your “groove.” That groove will ultimately be the plane of movement from lock out (the top of the movement), down to where you naturally bottom out then back up over your eyes to lock out. For some guys their natural bottom out might not be hitting your sternum, but actually a few inches above.
Width of Grip:
The width of your grip on the bar is going to determine the degree to which your triceps are involved. Too narrow and you’re using too much arm strength, which is weaker than your pec strength. Too wide, however, stresses your pecs past where they are their strongest and could expose you to injury.
A good starting point is to lie down under the bar and wrap your hands around the bar near where the knurling starts. Extend your thumbs and move your hands out until the tips of your thumbs line up where the knurling starts. You might want to extend them a little farther depending on how it feels. Do not use a false grip! Only use a true grip (with your thumbs wrapped around the bar) and keep your wrists in line with your forearm. The back of your hand should be in a straight line relative to your forearm.
On the decent, control the weight. Don’t drop it on your chest! The start position is directly over your eyes, at the bottom, the bar ends up just over your nipples. Descend until you feel your natural stopping point. This might be with the bar just touching your chest, or it could be a little bit higher. You’ll know it when you get there. Don’t force the bar down lower than it naturally wants to go. The bottom does not always mean touching your chest, and it certainly doesn’t mean crashing into your chest. Always control the weight!
On the way up keep your butt and low back on the bench. No bridging. Use your power. Always use deliberate strict form and power the bar up in a slight arc from where you bottom out, just over your nipples, to directly over your eyes. Once you find that groove stay there. It’s going to take you a while to find your perfect benching form. Strict movement may cause you to lighten the load and drop a few pounds off your max, but ultimately it will pay off and you’ll be not only stronger, but also much safer!