We’ve covered the squat, we’ve covered the deadlift, now it’s time to talk about the bench press. Why is it so damn important? Where should your grip be? How should a proper rep look and feel? Vamos!


  1. The bench press is considered an OG in the weightlifting/bodybuilding world… it helps not only with athletic performance, but also strength and conditioning, how? It helps build standing push-force production. 
  2. Building chest strength will also improve strength in other movements like strict press, tricep movements, and push-ups.
    • A strong chest translates into a ton of lifts, and you’ll be surprised how much your form improves as you grow your bench press.
  3. It’s also a compound exercise… and you know we love those. If you’re new here, a quick TL;DR – compound exercises are the shit because they work multiple muscle groups at once, giving you the most bang for your buck in the gym.
    • The bench press strengthens the upper and lower body, as well as core. How does it do all of those things? Because to execute a beautiful rep, you need to have tension throughout your entire body, from feet to fingers and everywhere in between.


  1. Warming up is always important, but warming up for chest press is EXTRA IMPORTANT. The pecs are a pretty small muscle group in comparison to say, your legs. You need to make sure they are ready to roll when it’s time to get heavy. 
    • Warmup can look like some airbike or elliptical to get the full body warm, then some arm circles and banded chest warmups like pull-aparts and banded chest flys.
    • Once you’re warm, you’re ready to lift, pick a bench, load the barbell, and let’s get to business.
  2. You need to check four major boxes when it comes to proper bench press form: feet position, hip extension, elbow/shoulder positioning, and hand/wrist positioning.
    • Feet position – Lay on the bench, face up. Make sure hips and head are both on the bench. You do NOT want to bench press with your head hanging off of the bench. 1 – bad for your neck, 2, you could drop the barbell and hurt your neck or head very badly. You also don’t want your hips hanging off the bench. If you’re tall, be patient and wait for the right bench instead of sneaking reps in… your body will thank you later. 
      • Plant your feet firmly on the floor about hip width apart, don’t extend your legs or plant into the floor with just your toes, you want the whole foot making contact. Why? Leg extension will overextend your hips and placing the feet underneath you or on the toes will arch your back off the bench and mess with your power production.
      • Before you yell at us, if you’re a seasoned powerlifter, with practice and proper coaching, arching the back on bench press is fine… but if you’re a rookie, you’re not ready for that yet.
    • Hip extension – To brace correctly during the lift, you need to make sure your hips are invited to the party. Squeeze your glutes to support and steady the hips and lumbar spine, this will help brace your core during the lift. 
      • This will also help you avoid arching your back or lifting your hips during the lift… which again, can prevent you from getting the most force production, and from fully recruiting the pecs during your lift.
    • Elbow and shoulder position – Externally rotate your elbows, they should be around 45 degrees from your sides… doing this should relax the shoulders in their sockets and away from your ears. Doing this will flatten your shoulder blades and stabilize your upper body… it will also make sure you don’t use your neck or traps too much.
    • What about hands? Wide or narrow? We’ll talk about them more in a moment.
  3. No matter what variety of bench press you’re doing, now you’re ready to lift, unrack the bar, and center it over your chest… about nipple height, maybe a little higher, depending on your ROM and build.
    • Lower the weight down to your chest in a controlled motion while inhaling. Don’t let the bar drop or bounce onto your chest. Keep your wrists and elbows in place, as well as shoulders still pointed away from your ears.
    • Now that you’re at the bottom of the lift; brace, drive your feet into the ground, and engage your core and glutes. Keep the lower back on the bench, and press the bar upward away from your chest. Exhale half way through the push while flexing your pecs and triceps to get the barbell back to where you started.


  1. Ahhhh, a question as old as time… asked frequently in the gym and at middle school dances. The bench press has a million different variations: incline, decline, floor press, dumbbells… but for sake of ease today, we are going to cover the most commonly debated versions of the barbell bench press.
    • Some people are team wide grip, some are team narrow, others float around from side to side… so which is best? It depends.
  2. Wide grip – focuses more on chest, triceps, and deltoids… puts most focus on pecs. This is the traditional hand positioning you’ll see when people bench press. If you have shoulder problems, you can cheat your hands in a little bit to take some of the pressure off .
    • This is the version of the bench press that will help you add the most strength.
  3. Narrow grip – focuses on chest and delts, but puts more focus on triceps during the lift. If you have wrist problems, this may not be the lift for you, as the narrow grip can put more stress on them.
    • This is the version you should do when you need to mix it up a little bit.
  4. Medium grip – somewhere between narrow and wide, good if you’re a beginner, because it gives you some flexibility on where to put your hands. 
  5. GENERALLY you will put your hands about a thumb’s distance from the inside of the knurling… and this is gonna depend on your individual strength and mobility. Don’t over-grip, white knuckling the barbell doesn’t have any advantage, and it can actually weaken your lift. 



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