If you don't know your way around a weight room, heading to the gym can be intimidating -- and even dangerous. But paying attention to a few simple rules of proper technique can make you slimmer, stronger and healthier all over.
That's why we asked John Romaniello, trainer, author and founder of Roman Fitness Systems to show us what's what when it comes to strength training.
He'll be helping us tackle some of the most common mistakes we all make while building muscle, plus giving us tips and tricks for better form. This week, we're perfecting the bench press.
The Faux Pas: "The most common mistake with the bench press is with the set up," says Romaniello. "Most [people] just lie down and lift." You may notice you feel off-balance, and one foot may even pop up off the floor as you struggle to lift the bar with poor form. Performing this move incorrectly increases your risk of injury, especially to the shoulders.
The Fix: "Instead, set up correctly," he says. "Lie down and set the feet firmly on the floor, establishing a solid and firm base to press from. Arch your back slightly, bracing your core from there, squeeze the shoulder blades together and grip the bar firmly." Start with light weight and ask someone to spot you for additional safety.
Tell us how it goes in the comments below, and be sure to check back over the following weeks to fix your bicycle crunches, triceps extensions and more.
Check out more in our Fix Your Form series below:
Photos by Damon Dahlen, AOL
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