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How to Bench Press

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The bench press is an exercise that weightlifters use to help build their chest muscles. There are many different types of bench presses, including a flat bench press, decline press and incline press. Some weightlifters use a barbell to do the exercise, while others prefer to use dumbbells or weight machines.

Things You Need

Here are some things you may need when you bench press:

  • Weight belt - for back support
  • Weightlifting gloves - for wrist support and to help grip the bar
Step 1 - Choose the Bench Press Equipment

Decide whether to use free weights or a bench press machine. You may want to start out on a machine until you are comfortable performing the exercise. If you do not have access to a machine, use a barbell with a light amount of weight. As you grow stronger, add more weights to the barbell, which will help to increase your muscle growth.

Step 2 - Loosen Up Your Arms

Do some light stretching exercises before you attempt the bench press. Try to do a few push-ups to help loosen up your upper body. You can also lay down on the bench and lift just the barbell with no plates added.

Step 3 - Ask Someone to Spot You During the Lift

Whenever you bench press, it is a good idea to have a spotter standing by to help you. Have the spotter stand behind you, so that she can be ready to grab the bar if you are unable to push it back up. The spotter can also help you lift the bar off of the bench supports when you are ready to begin the exercise.

Step 4 - Lay Down on the Bench and Grasp the Bar

Place your hands on the bar slightly wider than shoulder-width. Keep your feet flat on the floor during the lift. If you need the spotter to help you remove the bar from the supports, have her grab the bar between where you have your hands.

Step 5 - Lift the Bar Up to Start the Exercise

Extend your arms toward the ceiling, then slowly lower the weight toward your chest. Do not let the bar touch your chest as you lower it. When you have the bar roughly an inch from your chest, press it up until your arms are straight to complete the first repetition. Do not arch your back as you press the bar up, which will decrease the effectiveness of the exercise.

Step 6 - Continue the Exercise for 10 Repetitions

Try to do 10 reps or have the spotter help you put the bar back on the bench supports if you cannot complete the last repetition. Stretch your arms once you finish the set. Try to do three sets and adjust the weight on the bar if necessary so you can complete 10 repetitions during each of the final two sets.

Once you are comfortable with the flat bench press, increase the difficulty of your routine. Do one set of flat bench presses, then do a set of incline presses followed by a set of decline presses. Remember to use a spotter for each exercise, for safety purposes.

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