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The Perfect Bench Press

A six-point plan for form that breaks records.
James Michelfelder & Therese Sommerseth

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To lift the heaviest possible weights, you need to perform the bench press in a way that gives you the best mechanical advantage. Master the setup described in these steps and you’ll add a second or third plate to the bar in six weeks or less.

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HOW TO PERFECT YOUR BENCH PRESS

1) Lie on the bench so your eyes are directly under the bar.

2) Grasp the bar just outside shoulder width.

3) Arch your back hard so that your lower back is completely off the bench. Your shoulder blades should be pulled together.

4) Squeeze the bar tightly and pull it out of the rack (if you have a spotter—and you should when the weight gets very heavy—have him help you get the bar into position).

5) Take a deep breath and lower the bar to your sternum (in line with the bottom edge of your pecs), tucking your elbows in at about 45 degrees to your sides.

6) When the bar touches your body, drive your feet hard into the floor and press it back up. Exhale at the end of the rep.

Note: Keep your grip, core, glutes, and legs tight; do not allow your feet to move; and when you bring the bar to your chest, don’t let the arch in your back collapse.

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