In this image, it appears that I am not bringing the bar all the way down to my chest. That is just the way the image came out. I actually do bring it all the way down to my chest. That doesn't mean I want you bouncing it off your chest. It should just lightly touch the chest before you explode up.
The Bench Press is probably the most popular exercise there is. Everyone always asks me, "How much can you bench?". But if you really want to know how strong someone is, a much better question would be, "How much can you dead-lift?" or "How much can you squat?".
The Bench Press is a very muscle specific lift and really not a great representation of overall body strength. That does not mean you shouldn't do it. Just don't solely focus on it. Use it for what it is -- a good way to increase upper body strength (specifically the chest, shoulders, upper back and triceps).
A lot of guys develop injury problems from benching. I think this is mostly due to the simple fact that they just do it too often. I remember when I first starting lifting, I benched three days a week! I was only 16 years old, so I was able to recover somewhat from this ridiculously frequent benching routine. But when I look back at it I have to laugh.
Besides limiting the frequency you bench to a reasonable amount -- once a week is plenty -- you can also do some things with your form to save your shoulders and rotator cuffs. When most guys start benching they are all chest and shoulder benchers. The bar stays up high by the head, it is lowered to a point high on the chest and they just power it up with all chest and shoulder strength. Over time (when the shoulders start to go) you will learn to bring the bar much further down on the chest, even below the chest. Using a wide grip, keeping the triceps in close, lower the bar to a point low on the chest and drive the bar up using more upper back and triceps.
Get a firm foot position (I see so many guys with their legs flailing all over the place), a good back arch (but do not let the butt come off the bench) and have at it with the form alluded to above. You will have less injuries and a longer benching career.
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