A current necessary evil/guilty pleasure in my routine at the moment is the bench press. It is a necessary evil because of my powerlifting. And it is a guilty pleasure because I do like to bench although it can be a pointless ego lift overused and abused in the general training world.
In my training yesterday it was a light bench day so I decided to take my grip out to having my index finger on the ring - I normally bench with the pinkie finger on the ring. Couple of things I discovered during my sets: 1. I had a straight drive to the top with a shorter stroke. 2. I was able to lock in my scapulae and stay stable. 3. It is going to take some work to make this my benching groove.
Bench press technique has evolved and it is anything but laying down and pushing. Foot position and being able to drive from the feet and involve the legs is vital. The arch in the back with scapulae pinched and close to the butt provides a solid base to press from. Pulling the bar down low on the chest and trying to bring the chest to the bar at the same time provides a great load and pre-tensing to the pressing muscles. The pause is a powerlifting necessity but also builds the ability to hold tension and transfer strength. A solid drive to the top and a successful press will be the reward for bringing these aspects of the bench together.
Shoulders and the bench - Bench pressing can and has on many occassions ruined shoulders. Poor technique and high volume are the main culprits in my opinion. If the elbows flair and/or the scapulae move during the bench you need to stop and reset. Continuing to bench when the scapulae have moved up and forward will damage your shoulders. This is one of the reasons to not go over 5 reps and even stay to 3 and under. This ties into volume. Even if technique is optimal you are still producing and supporting large loads in the shoulders and there is a limit to what you can take in these areas.
If you don't know or haven't seen solid powerlifting bench press technique - do yourself a favor and spend some time investigating it if you are going to bench.