Getting crushed under the bar isn’t the only way you can get injured during a bench press. More often than not we see people putting their fragile shoulders under excessive amounts stress which increases the risk of niggling shoulder injuries. Here’s how to set yourself up properly the next time you’re under the bar!
Pit Quiz: What part of the bench press do people injure themselves most commonly? You’re probably guessing at the bottom of the rep when you push the weight off your chest right? Where the bar feels the heaviest and where people get crushed by the bar on all of those Facebook fail videos…
In fact these “Epic Fails” aren’t actually that common.. what is common however is peoples lack of understanding of how to set themselves properly to un-rack the bar before their bench pressing even begins. It is far too easy to aggravate and old shoulder injury and leave you shoulder sore for a few days post bench press. Here’s how to prevent this from happening to you ever again!
The Bench: Tighten Up, Then Straighten Up
That weak pop kind of feeling in your shoulder when you un-rack the bar is actually your most vulnerable part of the lift. Here’s The Pit’s top tips to set yourself up properly:
The Set Up
Lifting on a strong stable surface. If you’re bench pressing, especially if it’s heavy on an unstable wobbly old bench then you are leaving yourself wide open for injury. You ideally want a power rack with safety racks, next best is a rock solid bench station.
When you’re lying down under the bar, before you do anything SQUEEZE! tighten everything from pushing your feet flat into the floor, to locking you lats back, engaging your core and puffing your chest up. I don’t care if you’re pressing 40kg or 140 David defeated Goliath with a pebble so you never want to get cocky and risk injuring yourself. It’s crucial you do this before un-racking that bar!
Next, grab onto the bar at your desired width little wider than shoulder width if you’re training for maximum muscle gain. Put the bar in the base of your palms keeping your wrists STRAIGHT! Squeeze the bar like it owes you money and take a big breath in. Now you can un-rack the bar straighten your arms and lock out your elbows. Un-racking should now have become a small movement given how rock solid your base now is.
Without changing a thing bring the bar over your chest (Nipple line is where we tell our clients). Keep your elbows locked at this point and your back muscles flexed.
Leave your ego at the door.. If you’re training for strength and hitting heavy sets we always would recommend a lift off and spot even if you’re using safety racks a lift off is a super easy way of eliminating risk of injury on the un-rack.
If you’re “THAT GUY” who is too strong for everyone and doesn’t need a spat or a lift off then lift within your limits.. you’re not impressing anyone with your shitty form and half reps because unpacking the bar has buckled you.
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