The bench press works the upper body and builds strength and muscle. Unfortunately, the bench press is also responsible for most injuries in the gym, especially in the shoulder region. Other common injuries are the wrist and neck. The reasons being that the bench press is one of the most popular pieces of equipment in the gym and is therefore performed the most and also that bench press enthusiasts fail to follow some important guidelines.
It is important to warm up before performing bench press lifts. Stretch your arms, your back and other body parts before performing any exercise. Warm up the chest, shoulder and arms by simulating the bench press with very light dumbbells. ‘Light’ is considered any weight that doesn’t impose any type of strain on the muscles. You can also just bench press the bar with no weights for 60 reps, then add light weight to the bar and perform an additional 20 reps.
Add an appropriate amount of weight and gradually increase. Don’t start bench pressing with too much weight on the bar. Find a comfortable amount of weight until you build your technique and strength. A good starting weight is not the maximum weight that you can lift, but instead the amount of weight that allows you to take the bar out of the cradle, perform 8 to 10 bench press reps and put the bar back in the cradle without assistance. You can also ask a gym associate or trainer to help you find the appropriate amount of weight to start with.
It is also essential to ask someone to spot you. Another person can help you support the bar in case you get stuck. Place your thumbs on the bar. Thumbless grips can cause the bar to slip out of your hand. Keep your glute muscles on the bench when performing the bench press. This keeps your entire body stable and helps to prevent injuries.
Keep your shoulder blades back and down on the bench. Don’t allow them to roll forward during the press. Also keep your chest up and your upper back muscles tight.