Free Weight Bench Press

1.   Select a weight that you're able to use for six to ten reps with strict form.

2.  Assume a supine position on the bench, with your feet on the floor.

3.   Slide forward or back to center your head directly below the bar.

4.   Position your hands (when you grasp the bar) so they're about shoulder width.

5.   Add about 3 to 6 inches to the width of your grip on each side.

6.   Carefully lift the bar from the hooks or enlist a spotter for help.

7.   Lower the weight very slowly, keeping your lower back flat on the bench.

8.   Inhale as you lower the weight to the point where it gently touches your chest.

9.   Exhale and slowly extend your arms, pressing up and back in a slight arc.

10.   Keep your back and buttocks flat on the bench and feet flat on the floor.

11.   When your arms are fully extended, slowly lower the weight and repeat.

12.   Repeat until you reach failure (you can't perform any more reps with strict form).

Other Key Points and Reminders

  Never bounce the weight off your chest. Control the descent of the weight.
  Try not to raise your buttocks, arch your back, or hold your breath.
  Adjust your grip so your thumb is firmly secured around the bar. (Don't "cup" your thumb beneath the bar — this type of grip isn't safe.)
  Try not to use momentum — don't perform rapid, explosive lifts.
  Enlist the help of a spotter when you are using heavy weights.