Because you’re pushing such heavy weight during this exercise, form is crucial, says David Otey, personal training manager at Equinox Sports Club New York.
Most lifters bench press with the hands too close together and lower the bar just below their collarbones, with the elbows flaring straight out to the sides. This placement forces extra stress on your shoulder and wrist joints, increasing your risk of injury, he explains. You should instead hold the bar just wider than shoulders and lower it to the bottom of your pecs, with about a 45-degree angle between body and elbows.
The bottom line:
With this bench press form, you’ll engage the upper- and middle-back muscles more, taking pressure off the wrists and shoulders. For the biggest strength benefits, the bar should barely graze your chest at its lowest point and your elbows should be bent just past 90 degrees, Otey says.