When we asked our Men’s Health Twitter followers about their top fitness goal for 2017, the consensus was clear: add 14kg to their bench press.
“What do you bench?” is gym small talk, sure, but it’s also a quick way to take the measure of a man. Adding 14kg could take as long as six months if you’re a gym rat, or four weeks or so if you’re a rookie, says Bobby Maximus, training director at Gym Jones in Salt Lake City.
It’s well worth the effort. “The bench press is not only the best move for packing on upper-body muscle, but it’s also critical in nearly every upperbody lift in and out of the gym,” Maximus says.
Here’s your handy guide to the move.
1 LEARN HOW TO BENCH
Before you start sliding on plates and pumping out reps, lock down your form. Precise form helps you lift more weight using the same amount of effort. It also reduces your injury risk because the load is handled by your muscle and not your joints, says Mike Robertson, co-owner of Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training.
Four Steps to Perfect Form
Start with your hands beneath the bar, spaced just beyond shoulder width. Tighten your entire body (as if you’re about to take a punch) to activate more muscle. “The tighter you are, the ligh