1. Lie on your back on a flat bench, ideally with an attached barbell rack. If you have an excessive arch in your back, place your feet on the end of the bench or on a low step.
2. Hold the bar, with your hands just over shoulder-width apart, palms facing forwards.
3. Remove the bar from the barbell rack and position it directly over your chest with your arms fully extended (but not locked).
1. Slowly lower the bar down to your chest. The bar should touch your upper chest just above your nipple line. Hold for a count of two.
2. Push the bar upwards in a slightly backwards arc so that it ends up over your shoulders.
• Keep your hips firmly on the bench. If you lift your hips to generate leverage, you will risk lower-back strain.
• Do not arch your back as you push the bar upwards or you will reduce the amount of work done by the chest.
• Do not bounce the bar off your chest or use the momentum of the weight to complete the repetition. Again, this reduces the amount of chest work and risks injury to the chest muscles.
• Keep your palms facing forwards and your wrists straight.
Wide grip: Using a grip one and a half times shoulder width apart places more emphasis on the pectorals (especially the outer part) and less on the triceps.
Narrow grip: Using a shoulder-width grip places more emphasis on the triceps and the inner pectorals.
Smith machine: The press may be performed on a Smith machine or a chest press machine. This has the advantage of being safer and not requiring a spotter to pass you the bar. However, you are locked into a fixed, vertical plane of movement that does not accommodate the natural arc of the movement so that there is therefore less of a contribution from the accessory muscles. As a result the muscles gain less stimulation compared with a free-weight bench press.