June 01, 2006
The bench press allows the lifter to move heavier weights with the arms than any other exercise. It should be included in every barbell-training program. But it is not the only lift we should do, as is too often the case in typical gyms.
Benching provides hard active work for the chest, shoulders, and arms and isometric work for the forearms. It trains novice lifters the fundamental skill of pushing on a very heavy load, perhaps its most useful function. When people first start training, they have no experience with maximal effort. The bench press is a very good place to learn how to bear down and push hard, and this invaluable lesson translates to all the other slow lifts quite well.
There is a little trick I use to make the bar go to the right place, through the right path, every time. Find a place on the ceiling to stare at and nail your eyes to that place. This point will be your positional reference for the bar path and its lockout position over the chest. If you return the bar to the same position at the top of every rep, having touched the same place on your chest every time, you will find that your bar path is uniform as well.