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The bench press is one of the most popular upper-body weight exercises out there, so it’s important to get it right from the start. But there’s not a one-size-fits-all prescription, says Jim Smith, C.P.P.S, owner of Diesel Strength and Conditioning in Elmira, NY. “The best hand position is the one that feels most comfortable for you.” For most lifters, he notes, this is slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
SEE ALSO: Bench Press Seminar 7: Hand Spacing
To safely test what might work best, try doing a basic pushup on a barbell set on a rack at about midshin level. “Try a variety of positions to see what feels best for your shoulders, then match that when you’re doing the bench press,” says Smith. Ideally, your elbows should track slightly out (at about 45 degrees) and your shoulders should stay back and down. “As the bar moves down, drive your chest up. This will put a slight arch in your upper back for more tension,” adds Smith.