People have done and will continue to do stupid things when it comes to anything – training included. The most dangerous exercise in the weight room is not the squat nor the deadlift. It’s the good old chesticle builder – the barbell bench press.
While there are many ways to kill yourself when you lift weights the bench press remains the most likely killer. The reason is pretty obvious – you are holding a heavy barbell over your face. If you drop the weight, it will fall directly on your throat, ribcage or face. The end result could be lethal.
An additional factor, making the bench press even more dangerous, would of course be the fact that most people believe that increasing their bench press will save the world and lifters fight for PRs with all they have. Ego lifting and heavy bench pressing go hand in hand and have killed many foolish people.
The fastest way to kill yourself when doing the bench press would be to use thumbless grip. When you don’t wrap your thumb around the bar you are basically attempting a form of iron seppuku without even knowing it. When the weight is heavy and you’re struggling to lift it, the bar could very easily slip out of your hands and fall on your chest, throat or face.
Be a wise guy and wrap your thumbs around the bar in order to prolong your miserable life a little longer. In order to secure your grip even more you should also use chalk to increase friction.
Of course, even if you wrap your thumbs around the bar there’s still a chance to hurt yourself when you bench press. That’s why you should always use a weight you know you can handle and bench press with competent spotter or in a power rack.
Many people mimic the technique of professional bodybuilders but that’s not always good. Bodybuilders like Ronnie Coleman, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Frank McGrath are known for using the thumbless grip when they bench. The fact that they are getting away with does not mean that it’s right to do so. Based on the obvious possible consequences it’s safe to say that similar technique is a liability.
While the bench press will forever be the most dangerous exercise it could be done safely with minimal risks for your health. Use your thumbs.