Thursday, July 17, 2008

Proper Use Of A Bench Press

By: John Layton

The bench press is an open form of free-weightlifting. The lifter lies on his or her back on a bench, raising and lowering the bar directly above the chest. It is intended for the development of the chest, or pectoral muscles, as well as several other muscle regions.

It is properly performed while lying on your back with your shoulder blades pinched together on a specially designed bench that has a weighted barbell suspended on a rack over the chest. Not pinching your shoulder blades together causes the frontal shoulders to take over, which works the right muscle groups. You need to form a slight arch in your lower back for stability, while making sure you don't lift your buttocks off the bench.

Keeping your feet planted on the ground, you then take the barbell, inhale, lift it off the rack, and then lower it to your chest at about the middle of the sternum. After a pause of less than five seconds, the weight is then raised back up to the starting position while exhaling. You also need to make sure your elbow doesn't fully lock or hyperextend, as this is both stressful on the joint and allows the muscles to rest when they should remain active.

Additionally, this exercise should always be performed with a spotter to catch the bar in case it is dropped on the chest. This is extremely important if you are doing a high amount of repetitions or low repetitions and high weight. If you are choosing to exercise alone, it may be a good idea to leave the locks off the ends of the bars. This allows you to slide the weights off in case you do drop the bar on your chest. If you are performing a bench press correctly, then you won't need to worry about the weights dropping off otherwise.

Other variations on the bench press are to perform it on an incline, or on a decline to shift the muscle group focus. Using varying width grips can be used to shift stress between your pectorals and triceps.
A bench press can also be performed with dumbbells. However, this is more for muscle conditioning as opposed to building strength.

The bench press is often the core of any weight lifting regime. It allows you to quickly and easily build upper body strength, while providing you with enough options to work other muscle groups.

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