It might just seem like lifting a bar with weight, but there’s a standard of technique to mastering the bench press. Before lifting the bar, there are mechanics that you should know to complete this strength training exercise.
Jowan Ortega, a performance enhancement specialist, calls the bench press one of the most prominent upper-body strength movements performed in a gym. However, there’s more to know than just how much weight you can lift.
“It’s imperative that you perform the mechanics of the bench press correctly to see the most carryover to performance,” Ortega says.
Fine-tuning your bench press technique begins with a proper setup.
After taking your place on the bench, lie back until your eyes are underneath the bar. Adjust your positioning in order to clear the rack. Make sure your head, shoulders and hips are in contact with the bench. You may maintain a slight arch in your lower back. Meanwhile, your feet should be flat on the ground, with your legs at a 90-degree angle.
Now that you have your bench press setup ready to go, it’s time to work on the bar.
If you have a spotter present, make sure they know how many reps you plan on doing. The spotter can help you safely unrack and re-rack the weight. The spotter is also there to provide assistance if you lose control of the bar or you start to slow down.
- Place your hands on the bar, with your arms slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Make sure the bar is resting in the palm of your hands with your fingers wrapped around and gripping tight. Also, keep your pinky fingers on the inside of the ring markings on the bar.
- Inhale, pulling your shoulder blades down and back. You might feel a slight lift on your back, away from the bench.
- Squeeze your glutes and brace your core.
- Unrack the bar by lifting it straight up in the air and slightly forward. The bar should be hovering above your chest.
- Lower the weight until it’s about three to four inches above your chest. Do not allow the bar to touch your chest and avoid flaring your elbows out of position. Your elbows should be parallel to your chest or upper stomach.
- Push the weight straight back up and repeat.
It’s important to lift the weight up and down in a slow, controlled motion. Your arms will bend to a 90-degree angle when bringing the weight down to your chest. Remember to keep your knees bent and your shoulders down and back. Keep your feet flat on the floor throughout the exercise.
Once you’re done with your reps, lift the weight up one more time, fully extending your arms. Then, move the weight back to its original position, slowly putting it back on the rack.
Now that you’ve learned the mechanics of how to do a bench press, check out these Pro Tips on how to perform the dumbbell floor press.