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The Best Exercise to sculpt your Upper Body by Mary Margaret Tan

In the world of weightlifting, there are a total of three main lifts that should always be included in any exercise regimen. They are the squat, deadlift, and the bench press. Well I have already discussed about the squat and the deadlift in previous blogs, so here I will talk about the bench press. This exercise is the single best exercise for your upper body and will help to strengthen and build strong pecs, shoulders, arms, and even your back muscles.

Basic equipment is needed like a bench and a barbell as well as a barbell rack. If you do not have a bench or a barbell, then you can lie on a yoga mat with your knees bent and feet firm on the floor and use a pair of dumbbells. The bench press is set-up by lying underneath the barbell with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, push your chest out, and make sure that your glutes are still on the bench. You always want to have a natural arch in your lower back (easiest way to test this is have someone slide their hand flat underneath your lower back); this is how your shoulder blades will be stabilized during the lift.

To execute this exercise, firmly grip the bar with your hands inside the rings of the barbell. If you have dumbbells instead, hold a dumbbell outside your shoulders with your elbows bent a bit over 90 degrees. To protect your wrists and prevent wrist pain and injury, do not extend your wrists while holding the barbell- always bench with a neutral wrist. Unrack the barbell by straightening your arms. Slowly lower the bar to your mid-chest just above your nipple line. Your elbows should not be touching your sides or be flared out 90-degrees, but rather at 75-degree angle at the bottom. Maintain this position while you raise the bar, locking your elbows at the top. The bar path should be traveling diagonally, never vertically up and down. With dumbbells however, press the weights toward the ceiling until your elbows are fully extended and the weights are barely touching each other at the very top of the movement. This counts as one rep. With proper form and technique, you will feel this exercise in your entire upper body. Ladies, do not be intimidated by chest exercises such as the bench press. Your girls will not shrink, as they are composed of fat. Doing chest exercises will in fact strengthen the muscles underneath to make them look perkier and firmer. Prioritize the bench press for your arm days and you will for sure be sculpting your way to a nice and defined upper body.

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