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  • Bench Press Tips

    Published: 22-11-2021

    This page has various tips and information about the bench press I have found around the web. This information has been helpful to me and I hope it can be helpful.

    A lifter performs the bench press excercise
    My setup not employed in this old photo.

    My personal step by step setup

    1. Keep head as far up bench as reasonable to make unracking simple (reduce moment arm).
    2. Feet towards midline of bench and bring them closer up in effort of making your legs and lower body tight.
    3. Retract and move scapulas inferiorly. Back and down. Maintain this throughout entire lift.
    4. When unracking raise bum off bench and pull the bar down towards the foot of bench. Use this to engage your triceps and lats.
    5. Tuck elbows in.
    6. Lat row the bar down down whilst lifting your chest to meet it.
    7. Push your heels into the ground and use this to engage your lower body tightness. Drive bar up in a straight line pushing from your triceps first.


    Q. I slide up the bench when pushing with my legs

    A. Drive down into the bench not up it. Use the bar to help you. Make friction between you and bench e.g. grip shirt, resistance band around bench or yoga mat.

    Q. I lose tightness on unrack.

    A. That's because you protract your shoulder trying to reach a pin which is too far up. The perfect rung height has minimal shoulder tightness interference. If not viable simply regain your tightness when bar is unracked.

    Form videos

    In my opinion these are the best form videos on the net.

    Shoulder position and unracking in bench press

    How to keep your body tight in the bench press.

    Observations from Louie Simmons

    Observation #1

    Louie Simmon writes in the Westside Barbell Book of Methods:

    To address the technical aspects of benching, we must determine what is proper bench press form. It has always been thought that you should push the bar back over the face. However, it makes little sense to do so. When a bar moves toward the face, many bad things occur. The delts are placed under great stress, especially the rotators, and no one wants that.

    Also, the lats are no longer involved in the lift when the bar moves toward the face. The bar should be lowered with the lats, not the arms. Without strong lat involvement, there is little chance that the bar will be placed on the chest correctly. It may land too high or too low. If it is too low, the delts are involved too much. If the bar lands too high, the triceps are involved too much. Strong lats will ensure the bar is placed in the correct position, that is, with the forearms vertical. In this position, an equal amount of delt, pec, and triceps are used in pressing. If you don’t place the bar in the correct position, delt and pec injuries are more likely to occur.

    The path of the bar in the concentric phase (raising) should be a straight line. This requires the correct use of the muscles. When the Clemson University coaching staff wanted to know which are the most important muscle groups for benching, George Halbert told them triceps are first, lats second, upper back third, and delts last. George holds the world record in the 220s at 657, a world 146 record of 688 in the 242s, and a 683 at 227, the heaviest triple bodyweight bench of all time (457 lbs over body weight!).

    The delts are almost always overworked,and the triceps are underworked. You see a lot of delt and pec injuries but not a lot of triceps injuries. This tells me that most lifters don’t train their triceps to the max. When the triceps, upper back, and lats are the strongest muscle groups, the bar will travel in a straight line, making the distance to lockout much shorter. Also, it does not require the arms to rotate outward, which causes injuries to thepecs and rotators.

    Louie continues saying that people should train their triceps.

    Observation #2

    Another similar quote from Louie:
    The bar should be pushed back up in a straight line, not back over the face. This requires strong triceps. This path is a shorter distance and requires no shoulder rotation, which is also much safer. The barbell will always seek the strongest muscle group. That’s why most push the bar over the face. Their delts are stronger than their triceps. But it should be the reverse. One sees a lot of shoulder and pec injuries but seldom do you see a triceps injury. Why? The triceps have never been pushed to their maximum potential.
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