The Internet is full of coaches who all say the same damned thing: "Don't flare your elbows!" While that bench-pressing advice is good in principle, it's not 100 percent accurate. The actual advice you should be getting goes a little more like this: "Flare your elbows on the way up."
Confused? As you'll see by watching the video, it's actually not too complicated.
Build a bigger bench Using elbow flare correctly
Instead of flaring your elbows as you move the bar down, flare them on the way up. As you move the bar down, you want to tuck your elbows. If you never pull them in, you'll never be able to flare them out.
When you do pull them in, don't make the tuck too severe, or you'll put yourself in a really weak position. So, bring your elbows in slightly and get in nice and tight at the bottom of the lift.
Once you begin to press, everything starts to come out. Shove your elbows under the bar so you don't have to rely on your shoulders and triceps to do all the work. As you press the bar, throw your elbows toward the rack. Push up and back. The bar will actually travel in an arc from your nipple line to about your chin.
Here are two exercises to help you learn that movement pattern:
Neutral-grip dumbbell bench press
Start with your palms facing each other. As you press the dumbbells up and back, rotate the dumbbell so your palms face outward. Rotating the palms out will help you learn how to move your elbows. Push up and back.
Sit on a bench with the dumbbells in front of your body. Your palms will face toward your body. From there, press up and rotate the dumbbells so your palms face outward. Try to push way back so your elbows end up behind your ears.