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How To Bench Press: Safety, Technique & Form

Learn how to bench press with proper form & technique. We also explain the optimal bar path and how to create a safe and supportive upper back position.

In this video, we teach you how to bench press with proper form and technique. We also explain tips and tricks for an optimal bar path and how to create a safe and supportive upper back position.

About the Bench Press

The bench press involves the pectoralis major (chest), anterior deltoid (front of shoulder) and the triceps. The forearm muscles, upper back muscles and lats also contribute to moving the weight during a bench press. It utilizes more muscle mass than the overhead press.

The lower body is also involved with the bench press – a concept known as “leg drive.” Leg drive occurs when the lifter pushes into the ground to provide more support for the slight upper back arch.

Every gym member knows how to bench press, right? Not quite. Let’s talk about proper form and technique.

Ready for Lift Off

With the empty bar, first learn how to take your grip and position your body on the bench. Slide up or down the bench until your eyes are about one inch in front of the barbell, while looking up at the ceiling. To take your grip with straight wrists, just like the press, rotate your first fingers towards each other, palms down and wrap your fingers around the bar. Your grip will be wider than the overhead press, and one that facilitates vertical forearms when the bar touches your chest.

Once your grip is in place, squeeze your chest up and walk your shoulder blades down towards your butt. This will create an arch in your upper back – it is perfectly safe. It provides a stable base to press the bar from.

Unrack the bar by pushing up off the hooks, and lock your elbows (fully extended arms). Never move the bar over your face, neck and throat with unlocked elbows. This is important for safety. Once you are holding the bar directly over your shoulder joint, lower the bar to a position on your chest somewhere near your sternum. Tuck your elbows anywhere from 15-45 degrees, depending on your anthropometry. The tuck should create a slight angle to your forearm, and place your elbows slightly in front of the barbell, when viewed from the side.

Touch your chest with the barbell and push up and back to the lockout – directly over your shoulder joint. Notice this isn’t a perfectly vertical bar path – the bar will travel in a horizontal line.

Watch the tutorial for more detailed instructions and important safety tips.



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