The best way to Bench Press (Safely) Nerd Health


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Let’s get you comfy utilizing the bench press, beginning immediately!

We focus on serving to individuals decide up barbells for the primary time. So if the bench press makes you are concerned…DON’T PANIC. We’ll set you up with a plan so you need to use it safely and successfully.

Right here’s what we’ll cowl:

This information is a part of our Power Coaching 101 sequence. I might encourage you to take a look at the remainder of the articles in case you’re simply beginning your weight coaching. 

For those who’re in a rush, you possibly can obtain the complete information without cost while you enlist within the Insurrection (that’s us!), by becoming a member of our free bi-weekly publication: 

How Necessary is the Bench Press?

Make sure you always bench with a spotter. Seriously.

For the final 30-40 years, the bench press has grow to be the common raise for bros in every single place to find out how sturdy somebody actually is. 

You understand, questions like:

A clever take on a popular meme.

As standard as it’s, the bench press in its present type is lower than 100 years outdated.

Till the 1930’s, individuals did a motion known as the “flooring press”, which was much like a bench press solely achieved from the ground.

If you don't have a bench press, you can 100% try a floor press.

Actually, at first many individuals did a motion known as a “stomach toss” – the place the bar would come down and bounce off the stomach to assist the lifter get it again up.

The three actions – bench press, stomach toss, and flooring press have been all standard till the 40’s and 50’s, when the bench press began to grow to be an increasing number of standard, as bodybuilders appreciated how the bench labored their pecs (higher than the opposite two actions).

Arnold utilized the bench press (amongst other tools and lifts) when competing for his Mr. Universe title.

Arnold benches, for certain. 

Because the bench press turned an increasing number of standard, powerlifting emerged within the 1970’s and separated itself from weightlifting as a sport of its personal.

What Muscle tissues Does the Bench Press Make the most of?

I can't even begin to imagine what Superman must be able to bench.

The bench press is an ideal motion to have as a half of your power program, and one transfer we think about to be part of the “huge 4” primary lifts. 

The opposite three lifts? 

  1. The Squat
  2. The Deadlift
  3. The Overhead Press

A few of the points coaches have with the bench press (comparable to a good chest creating unhealthy posture) don’t come from benching itself, however come from bench being one of many ONLY actions in your program, and might disappear when included as part of a well-rounded power program.

In different phrases, don’t JUST practice utilizing the bench press.

Vada is ready to start bulking up!! And torment her Dad's GF.

The bench press is extensively often known as a “chest” train, nonetheless, that’s undoubtedly not all it’s. 

The bench press trains:

  • Shoulders
  • Triceps
  • Forearms
  • Lats
  • Pecs
  • Traps
  • Rhomboids
  • Plus just about each muscle in your higher physique

Nevertheless, the bench press doesn’t JUST use your higher physique.

Once you bench correctly, you employ your decrease again, hips, and legs as effectively. Similar to our different important lifts (the squat, deadlift, and overhead press), the bench press, whereas placing an emphasis on particular muscle teams, is a full-body motion.

Give it some thought – whilst you’re benching, the remainder of your physique is not only mendacity there doing nothing.

As shown, always have a spotter when doing the bench press!

Your total physique ought to be working your shoulders are pinched collectively and your lats are engaged, whereas your again, hips and legs are tight, stabilizing your total physique to create a strong base and aid you generate drive from the spherical.

The best way to bench press: The Setup

Setup is everything when performing the press, as we will learn.

There are a number of other ways to carry out the bench press.

We’ll begin you out with an ordinary and primary bench press variation, which we consider is the most effective (and most secure) technique for common power.

Keep in mind: simply since you see somebody benching a ridiculous quantity of weight on the fitness center doesn’t imply they’re utilizing correct or protected type.

They could possibly be a complicated athlete who’s making compromises to their type (knowingly or unknowingly) with a view to bench increased numbers.

Stay consistent like this mouse and you'll bulk up. Maybe eat a little cheese too.

What do it is advisable to carry out the bench press?

  1. A weight bench with uprights:We don't need to make this complicated. A simple weight bench like this will be perfect for the press.
  2. Barbell – the usual weight is 45 lbs, however this can be too heavy to start out. Regardless of how sturdy you’re, I like to recommend beginning with a PVC pipe or broomstick to study correct type.
  3. Spotter – as soon as the burden will get heavy (we are going to focus on choices later in case you simply don’t have another person to identify you)

The best way to Set Up A Bench Press

There are lots of other ways to arrange for a bench press – as you’ll see by watching any powerlifting competitors, and even by spending simply 20 minutes in your native fitness center.

Some individuals get on the bench and curl themselves beneath the bar, some enter the bench from the again and slide in beneath the bar, and others simply lie down after which get tight.

Your first step on proper bench press form looks like this.

The important thing right here is to arrange in a manner that helps you get your physique tight and prepared for the raise.

Earlier than you start, it may be a good suggestion to roll the bar ahead on the uprights, as that is the place you’ll be lifting it off from.

Having the bar in the identical spot within the uprights will aid you with an ordinary setup that’s the similar each time.

Right here’s methods to place your self throughout the bench press:

  1. Squeeze your shoulder blades collectively (as in case you have been attempting to carry a pencil between them), press your lats into the bench, and lift your chest up barely in direction of the bar.
  2. When you’re doing this, squeeze your butt and plant your toes into the bottom. Your total foot (heels included) ought to be on the bottom, on both facet of the bench.
  3. Maintain your total physique tight. The elevating of your chest to the bar, squeezing your shoulders collectively, squeezing your butt, and driving your heels into the bottom will create a good arch in your again. (extra on this later).
  4. Think about you’re a superhero and fake you’re sucking all of the vitality out of the room and absorbing it. As you the bar descends, take up that vitality and prepare to blow up upward with the bar.
  5. Your shins ought to be perpendicular to the bottom and straight under your knees. If they’re out in entrance of you, your toes are too far ahead and also you received’t be capable to generate correct drive.

Engage your entire body while performing the bench press.

Once you lookup, your eyes ought to be simply north of the underside of the bar – it’s best to see the bar straight above your eyes. Your head, higher again, and butt ought to by no means depart the bench.

Word: Some individuals (together with myself) discover it simpler to get tight of their higher again in the event that they put their toes up on the bench, seize the bar, get tight of their higher again, after which place their toes on both facet of the bench one by one.

Some (like Staci) find it easier to keep form with their feet up. You do you.

That is simply one other technique and one thing you possibly can check out after you get the cling of the bench!

Subsequent, take your arms and put them straight up, and seize the bar. Your grip ought to be together with your thumbs across the bar:

Make sure your thumb wraps around, we don't want you to lose control of the bar.

A thumbless grip just isn’t for use on the bench press, as it’s unsafe, and infrequently nicknamed the “suicide grip,” as it’s far too simple for the bar to fall off of your palms and land in your physique (warning: arduous to observe).

Once you maintain the bar, it ought to be within the heel of the palm (the identical spot in your palms as for the overhead press.) Your wrists won’t be prolonged, and your forearms are beneath your wrists, forming a strong line of help.

For those who maintain the bar within the higher half of your hand or the fingertips, not solely are you not in a robust place, however you might harm your wrists.

Bench Press Grip:

Staci shows you the correct way to hold a barbell during the bench press.

Carry the bar (or, ideally PVC as we’re simply studying) all the way down to your chest. At your chest, the width of your grip ought to make your forearms straight up and down (as perpendicular to the ground as you possibly can).

This is roughly the width of the bench grip you are shooting for.

Get a good friend that will help you (as you received’t be capable to see by yourself), or tape your self so you possibly can see. Don’t stress an excessive amount of about getting your forearms 100% completely vertical.

When you get comfy with the motion, you could change the width of your grip, as there may be wiggle room for private desire, however this can be a great spot to start out.

Additionally, remember that your grip could seem manner wider or narrower than your folks based mostly on the width of your shoulders. That is regular!

Try and keep your arms vertical. This will give you a good grip when performing the bench press.

Why would individuals alter their bench press grip?

  • A wider grip is extra pec-focused
  • A narrower grip is extra tricep targeted

You will notice powerlifters use a super-wide grip as a result of it reduces the vary of movement and subsequently permits them to raise extra weight in competitors.

Nevertheless, extra weight doesn’t all the time imply stronger, and our objective immediately is security and power!

Because of this we advocate a grip together with your forearms in a vertical place, it’s essentially the most well-rounded and most secure model for total power.

For those who’re anxious about whether or not you’ve got the suitable grip in place, document your self and match it in opposition to the movies on this information. If it’s shut, you’re doing nice.

You would additionally document a video and despatched it to your individual Nerd Health Coach!

Click on on the underside under to study extra:

The Most Necessary Bench Press Tip (Maintain Tight)

Jim and Staci will walk you through the most important tip when using the bench press.

For those who’ve arrange appropriately, your total physique ought to be tight.

Deal with the next when performing your bench press:

  1. Consider your physique as one single unit, not single muscle teams. 
  2. Drive your toes into the bottom, tighten your total decrease physique and core, squeeze your shoulder blades collectively, and squeeze the bar. You need to really feel like one strong, single unit. 
  3. Once you tighten your physique, your neck, higher again, and butt ought to be on the bench (and your toes and heels on the bottom). 
  4. Once you drive your heels via the bottom, squeeze your shoulder blades collectively, and lift your chest to the bar, it would type a small arch in your again – that is pure and what we’re aiming for. 
  5. You don’t wish to push your decrease again into the bench to create a “flat again,” or attempt to not create an arch. If in case you have heard individuals speaking about not utilizing an arch within the bench press, they’re almost certainly referring to the acute arch utilized by many powerlifters:Don't start benching like this. This is an advanced move only.
  6. That’s not what we’re going for right here – that could be a manner that will help you raise extra weight by decreasing the vary of movement, and is just protected to look into when you’ve got been benching for a very long time and actually know what you’re doing. For total power, we advocate benching with a full vary of movement as an alternative of attempting to cut back it.

Now, really feel how tight your physique is? It is rather essential that you simply maintain this tightness all through the complete motion.

Correct Bench Press Kind

Camp was great, for lots of reasons, but mainly because we benched.

Now that we’re arrange and have our palms across the bar, we wish to take into consideration having our elbows tucked in and never letting them flare out.

A method to do that is that while you seize onto the bar, take into consideration attempting to bend it in half upwards in direction of the sky.

This “upward bending” cue will even aid you have interaction your lats, which doesn’t truly aid you with the press, however do aid you maintain your physique tighter.

We evaluate methods to bench press with correct type on this video (taken from NF Prime): 

Right here’s methods to carry out the bench press:

#1) Unrack the bar and place the bar straight above your shoulders (with out shedding tightness – maintain squeezing your shoulder blades collectively!).

#2) Proceed to lookup on the ceiling, unlock your elbows and decrease the bar to your chest. Don’t simply drop the bar to your chest – you wish to pull it down in direction of you with management.

#3) On the backside of the motion, you need the bar to the touch just a few inches under your clavicles. If it’s up by your throat or in your abdomen, it’s within the improper place.

As shown, we don't want to the bar too high or too low. You want the bar to touch a few inches below your clavicles.

#4) As soon as the bar touches your chest, press as much as put the bar again to its beginning place.

Word that in contrast to the deadlift and squat, the bench press motion won’t be in a straight up and down movement.

This picture shows you the bar path of the bench press

Due to our anatomy, the bar will observe a barely diagonal path down, after which observe the identical path again up.

#5) Whereas urgent, bear in mind to maintain your elbows tucked in, and don’t allow them to flare out. 

As Staci shows here, keep your arms vertical (as much as you can).

Take into consideration squeezing in order that your biceps contact the facet of your chest (although you received’t be shut sufficient to have this occur), or attempt to get your elbows beneath the bar.

You don’t wish to be too tucked although – the objective is a couple of 45-degree angle: 

Staci with elbows at about 35 degrees.

#6) As you press, the identical elements of your physique that have been touching the bench earlier than ought to nonetheless be touching the bench, and your toes ought to nonetheless be on the ground. Don’t let any a part of you (the commonest is your butt) come off the bench.

To assist stop your butt from coming off of the bench, as an alternative of pushing up while you drive together with your heels, consider pushing up and again, in direction of the entrance of the bench (the place your head is).

#7) To re-rack the bar, transfer the bar backwards to the uprights and contact them with the bar, after which let go of the bar. Don’t have a look at the racks, that they’re there! For novices, it’s nice to have a good friend aid you information the bar again to the suitable place within the rack.

What’s a Newbie Bench Press Weight? (Figuring out Your Beginning Weight)

As we will teach, having a spotter can be critical when using the bench press.

Okay okay, you’re questioning how a lot it’s best to placed on the bar as a newbie who’s beginning out with bench urgent. 

It is a crucial query, and for any person that’s attempting to degree up as shortly as doable, you’ll be tempted to place WAY extra weight on the bar than you possibly can in all probability deal with.

In different phrases, your ego is writing checks your physique can’t money.

So here’s what you will do.

Verify your ego, and begin with:

The bar. And ONLY the bar.

Yes, really start with just the bar. No matter how much the dog is benching.

Stunning, I do know.

Your ego will survive. I promise.

As we cowl in our intensive information “How A lot Weight Ought to I Be Lifting?“, it’s best to ALWAYS begin each session with simply the bar.

Hell, even veteran powerlifters who can bench press 500+ kilos will all the time begin out by simply bench urgent the bar.

You possibly can too. No person within the fitness center cares. I promise you.

NOTE: The bar STILL weighs 45 kilos, which MIGHT be too heavy for you. That’s okay! You don’t go to indicate individuals how sturdy you’re on the fitness center, you go to the fitness center to get stronger.

So begin by ensuring 45 kilos isn’t too heavy for you.

If you’re even SLIGHTLY involved that it may be, think about using dumbbells or discovering a smaller/lighter barbell within the fitness center and utilizing that to construct as much as the power with the bar.

dumbbells can help you build strength until you start using a barbell.


  • Now, in case you can bench press the bar safely, nice.
  • Do 3 units of 10 in your first day within the fitness center.
  • When it’s time to bench press once more, add 2.5 lbs (1.2KG) to every facet of the bar, and repeat.
  • You’ll then be lifting a complete of fifty lbs.
  • Every week, add 5 kilos whole (2.5 to every facet) to the bar. This will probably be “gradual going” at first. Nevertheless, even at a paltry 5 kilos per week, you’ll quickly attain some extent within the subsequent 6-12 months the place you’ll strategy a weight you possibly can now not raise.


As a result of it is advisable to practice your physique appropriately, and we’re seeking to construct momentum. Once you observe good type with gentle weight, your physique begins to study the correct pathway for the bar. Your muscular tissues, tendons, and joints all learn to bear the load of a weighted bar.

And every week, you get barely stronger.

Repeat this week after week, mix it with a weight-reduction plan to get stronger, and you’ll construct muscle like a superhero!

I'm not saying DON'T bench press your friends, but ah, yeah...

Perhaps someday you’ll be capable to bench individuals.

Your complete technique of our new app, Nerd Health Journey, is predicated off this technique: gradual progress over time. And since we’re nerds, you’ll truly construct a superhero alongside the best way (as a result of why not!).

5 Frequent Bench Press Errors

Don't flare out your elbows, instead keep them tucked in during your bench press.

  1. Not maintaining physique tight – As quickly as you lose tightness, you’ve got the potential for lacking the rep. Be certain that even when you’re warming up and the burden is gentle, that you simply maintain your total physique tight.
  2. Butt developing – make sure that your butt stays on the bench always! It’s simple to let it come up off the bench as soon as the burden will get heavy and you actually begin driving via your heels. As an alternative of desirous about driving upwards via your heels, take into consideration driving up and backwards. For those who’re struggling together with your butt developing, both attempt placing plates beneath your toes or re-evaluating your foot place (or decrease the burden).
  3. Bouncing off your chest – while you come to the underside a part of the raise, don’t bounce! Decrease the bar to barely graze your shirt, after which press.
  4. Half reps – One of the widespread faults I’ve seen within the fitness center! Ensure you are hitting full vary of movement each single rep (all the way down to chest!).
  5. Mistaken beginning, center, and ending positions (pictured under) – we’ve realized prior to now {that a} vertical line is essentially the most environment friendly strategy to transfer a bar, however with the bench press, the most secure is to maneuver the bar at a slight curve. The bar will begin and finish above your shoulders, however the center level of the bar will probably be under your clavicles. In case your center place is above your shoulders, in a vertical line, your center place is simply too excessive.

As shown here, the bar actually travels at an angle, not straight up and down.

The best way to Ask for A Spotter with the Bench Press

Always have a spotter when you bench press, otherwise you'll upset Vader.

Recognizing is a vital a part of bench urgent – not solely having somebody spot you, however having you see different individuals. It may be extraordinarily harmful to bench press alone.

We don't have a sword to give you, but we can teach you how to ask for a spotter for when you bench press.

A spotter’s objective is to make sure the protection of the lifter – to not assist the lifter with reps.

The spotter all the time watches each rep whereas staying out of the best way.

The one factor they might assist with is supplying you with a lift-off, however after that, it’s all you!

*A lift-off is while you assist the lifter take the bar out of the rack, after which let go of it when it’s within the appropriate beginning place.

You don’t want a spotter to your warm-up units, however everybody ought to have one for his or her work units.

How do you ask somebody to identify you? “Hey, will you see me actual fast?” normally works (it’s actually that straightforward!). I’ve by no means had anybody flip me down.

For those who’re all the time on the fitness center similtaneously another person, make associates and spot one another.

New friends are always great, especially if you can bench press together. Even if they might be imaginary rabbits.

That manner you’re not all the time nervous asking somebody random to identify you.

If somebody asks you to identify them, all the time ask:

  • What number of reps they’re going for?
  • Do they need a raise off?
  • How would they wish to be noticed?

Some individuals don’t need you to the touch the bar except they inform you to; others need you to assist them information the bar up in the event that they begin to fail, and others need you to take the bar instantly in the event that they fail the rep.

Some desire a raise off, and a few don’t.

Once you ask another person to identify you, they are going to in all probability ask you a similar questions!

What if I don’t have a spotter? Can I bench press and not using a spotter?

We'll discuss some tips if you find yourself alone like LEGO and don't have a spotter for the bench.

For those who don’t have a spotter, you need to use the ability rack to bench.

A energy rack would seem like so:

If you see this as the gym, you have a great tool for the bench press.

NF Coach Jim demonstrates methods to bench press utilizing an influence rack right here:

Simply set the pins at a degree simply barely under your chest, so in case you miss a rep you may get out.

For those who don’t have an influence rack, and completely don’t have a spotter – you possibly can both not put clips on the bar, after which let the burden slide off one facet at a time, or do the “Roll of disgrace,” the place you roll the bar down your physique, sit up, and decide up the bar.

Our preference would be for you to get a spotter, but this roll can work in a pinch.

Nevertheless, each of those strategies are harmful and also you’re risking harm by doing them. Please don’t bench press alone – particularly when simply beginning out. Even when the burden appears gentle, it’s very doable to injure your self.

One of the best factor you are able to do is to ask somebody on the fitness center to identify you.

There’s nothing bizarre about all of it – in actual fact, it’s regular and anticipated!

If that’s not an possibility, think about dumbbell presses or one other chest train till you’ll find a spotter.

If you don't have a spotter, the dumbbell press can be a great chest alternative.

Ceaselessly Requested Questions on The Bench Press (Plus Tricks to Get Began)

One of the many things taught at NF camp was the bench press.

1) “I see individuals with their toes up on the bench – what’s occurring?”

Here is Staci showing you a more advanced way to do the bench press.

This isn’t technically appropriate – however it’s actually a very completely different motion than your customary bench press. It eliminates using the decrease physique within the motion, and may be good for individuals with accidents or as an help train.

I’ve seen it essentially the most in bodybuilding routines. We advocate you follow the bench press type we offered till you grasp the motion.

2) “If the bench is without doubt one of the ‘huge 4’, why do some individuals not bench press?”

The bench press is an effective way to construct power. However out of the massive 4, it’s the raise that has essentially the most options obtainable.

Whereas it’s arduous to exchange a heavy deadlift, you possibly can simply change the bench press with push-up and dip variations and constantly get stronger with simply your individual body weight for a really very long time.

Push up:

This gif shows Staci doing a push-up in perfect form.


Bodyweight dips are a great exercise to include in an strength training practice.

Listed below are the most effective 42 body weight workouts if you wish to begin coaching that manner first!

I personally maintain the bench in my program as a result of I get pleasure from it, but in addition as a result of it’s a aggressive raise in powerlifting.

Steve, nonetheless, has chosen to not bench press and replaces it with body weight variations of push-ups and a number of gymnastics ring work.

The muscle-up is one of the most badass exercises you can do!

3) “Okay, I get it! What do I do now?”

I’m glad you requested! I’ve three nice choices for you:

Choice #1) In order for you step-by-step steerage, a customized power coaching program that ranges up as you get stronger, and a coach to maintain you accountable, take a look at our killer 1-on-1 teaching program:

Choice #2) Exercising at dwelling and want a plan to observe? Take a look at Nerd Health Journey!

Our enjoyable habit-building app helps you train extra often, eat more healthy, and degree up your life (actually).

Attempt your free trial proper right here:

Choice #3) Be part of the Insurrection! We’d like good individuals such as you in our neighborhood, the Nerd Health Insurrection. 

Join within the field under to enlist and get our information, Power Coaching 101: Every thing You Must Know. It’ll aid you begin incorporating the bench press into your coaching:

In order that’s all there may be to it! Subsequent time you’re within the fitness center, give the bench press a shot!

Begin with simply the bar, and add weight every time while you hit your weights. Simply don’t neglect to have a spotter!

So, what sort of benching questions do you’ve got for us!?


PS: Don’t neglect to take a look at our different articles within the Power 101 Collection!


photograph supply: leg0fenris: legos, Alexander Danling: Benches, Christian Hernandez: Superman , Arch in bench press, LEGO bench press, Beam me up, please.


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