For many lifters, the bench press is the “gold standard” for developing upper body strength, but its reputation invites a lot of ego-driven cluelessness around how to do it with good and safe technique. Its deceptive simplicity is where many new (and even veteran) lifters run into trouble, so let’s talk about how you can bench better and more safely.
For clarity’s sake, we’re talking about the barbell bench press (sans the balloons from the GIF above). When you watch someone bench, it looks like the exercise is all arms, chest, and the occasional loud, obnoxious grunts, but it’s actually a compound movement that also includes shoulders, traps, triceps, upper back, core, hips, and even legs to a certain degree.
Sadly, pulling a bench up to the power rack at a gym is a fantastic way to find out who the regular a-holes are at that gym. I’ve experienced more than one occasion where someone had a problem with me using a rack to bench, despite the fact the rack was clearly not in use. I don’t understand that mentality, some people just need to own the world.