The bench press is a very simple movement and often undervalued lift. When it is performed correctly, it provides huge accessory benefits such as strengthening your overhead position and other pressing movements, while also helping to stabilize muscles like your lats, deltoids, teres, and rhomboids.
Despite the simplicity of the movement, athletes often lack the technique and tension to perform it correctly, with a quality range of motion. By making a just few adjustments to your technique, you can measurably increase your gains.
How to Improve Your Bench Press Technique
By creating tension throughout your entire body, you are able to stabilize the bar and isolate the muscles in your chest.
Focus on pressing through your palms with the bar aligned over your forearms while you perform the lift. Let the bar sit in your hands with a relaxed grip. Your wrists should be rotated slightly inward to keep the direction of the bar straight and solid.
To get into the ideal position, it is important that you arch your back to create space between your lower back and the bench, while keeping your shoulders pressed back and down. You will know your range of motion is good if you can touch the barbell to your sternum while maintaining this position.
If you lose tension in your lower back, if will be difficult for you to keep your shoulders back and down, resulting in your shoulders rolling forward into a bad position.
Keep your lats engaged by slowly lowering the bar and pressing it up vertically. When the bar moves in front of your face and your shoulders come towards your ears, you lose the tension in your lats. To maintain that position, let your shoulders rotate down towards your lats.
By following these tips, you will improve your technique and increase your strength and gains in your bench press, as well as other movements including the decline bench press, incline, and dumbbell bench. Next time you perform a bench press, remember these five setup steps and see for yourself how your strength improves!
Checklist for Proper Bench Press Setup
1) Ensure that your entire foot is pressing into the floor
2) Keep your glutes squeezed and pressed against the bench
3) Create tension by arching your lower back so that there is space between the bench and the lower back
4) Squeeze your shoulders down and press them into the bench so there is tension in your lats
5) Keep your hands on the bar slightly rotated inward