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How you can Bench Press (Safely) Nerd Health

These LEGOs are working the bench and doing some deadlifts. Nerd Fitness approves.

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

We focus on serving to folks decide up barbells for the primary time. So if the bench press makes you are worried…DON’T PANIC. We’ll set you up with a plan so you should utilize 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 when you’re simply beginning your weight coaching. 

For those who’re in a rush, you possibly can obtain your complete information free of charge once you enlist within the Rise up (that’s us!), by becoming a member of our free bi-weekly e-newsletter: 

How Essential is the Bench Press?

Make sure you always bench with a spotter. Seriously.

For the final 30-40 years, the bench press has change into the common carry for bros in every single place to find out how sturdy somebody really is. 

You already know, questions like:

  • How a lot do you bench?
  • Do you even carry?

A clever take on a popular meme.

As common as it’s, the bench press in its present type is lower than 100 years outdated.

Till the 1930’s, folks did a motion known as the “ground 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.

The truth is, 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 ground press have been all common till the 40’s and 50’s, when the bench press began to change into an increasing number of common, as bodybuilders preferred 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, fo sho. 

Because the bench press grew to become an increasing number of common, 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 a terrific motion to have as a half of your power program, and one transfer we contemplate to be part of the “large 4” primary lifts. 

The opposite three lifts? 

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

A number of the points coaches have with the bench press (equivalent to a decent chest creating dangerous posture) don’t come from benching itself, however come from the 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 broadly 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.

While you bench correctly, you employ your decrease again, hips, and legs as nicely. Identical to our different foremost 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 whole physique must be working your shoulders are pinched collectively and your lats are engaged, whereas your again, hips and legs are tight, stabilizing your whole physique to create a stable base and aid you generate drive from the spherical.

How you can bench press: The Setup

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

There are a whole lot of alternative ways to carry out the bench press.

We’ll begin you out with a typical and primary bench press variation, which we consider is the very best (and most secure) technique for basic power.

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

They may very well be a complicated athlete who’s making compromises to their type (knowingly or unknowingly) with the intention to bench increased numbers.

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

What do it’s essential 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 might be, 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)

How you can Set Up A Bench Press

There are various alternative 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 health club.

Some folks 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 carry.

Earlier than you start, it is likely to 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 a typical 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 when you have been making an attempt 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 whole foot (heels included) must be on the bottom, on both facet of the bench.
  3. Hold your whole 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 decent arch in your again. (extra on this later).
  4. Think about you’re a superhero and fake you might be 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 must be perpendicular to the bottom and straight beneath your knees. If they’re out in entrance of you, your toes are too far ahead and also you received’t be capable of generate correct drive.

Engage your entire body while performing the bench press.

While you search for, your eyes must be simply north of the underside of the bar – you must see the bar straight above your eyes. Your head, higher again, and butt ought to by no means depart the bench.

Be aware: Some folks (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 separately.

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 hold of the bench!

Subsequent, take your arms and put them straight up, and seize the bar. Your grip must be along 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 shouldn’t be for use on the bench press, as it’s unsafe, and infrequently nicknamed the “suicide grip,” as it’s far too straightforward for the bar to fall off of your palms and land in your physique (warning: arduous to observe).

While you maintain the bar, it must 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 stable line of assist.

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 possibly can 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 pal that can assist you (as you received’t be capable of 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, it’s possible you’ll change the width of your grip, as there’s wiggle room for private desire, however this can be a excellent place to start out.

Additionally, take into account that your grip could seem manner wider or narrower than your folks primarily based 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 folks alter their bench press grip?

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

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

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

For this reason we advocate a grip along with your forearms in a vertical place, it’s probably the most well-rounded and most secure model for total power.

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

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

Click on on the underside beneath to study extra:

The Most Essential Bench Press Tip (Hold Tight)

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

For those who’ve arrange appropriately, your whole physique must be tight.

Concentrate on 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 whole decrease physique and core, squeeze your shoulder blades collectively, and squeeze the bar. It is best to really feel like one stable, single unit.
  3. While you tighten your physique, your neck, higher again, and butt must be on the bench (and your toes and heels on the bottom).
  4. While you drive your heels by way of the bottom, squeeze your shoulder blades collectively, and lift your chest to the bar, it is going to 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. In case you have heard folks speaking about not utilizing an arch within the bench press, they’re more than likely 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 can assist you carry extra weight by lowering the vary of movement, and is barely protected to look into when you’ve gotten been benching for a very long time and actually know what you might be doing. For total power, we advocate benching with a full vary of movement as an alternative of making an attempt to cut back it.

Now, really feel how tight your physique is? It is extremely essential that you simply hold this tightness all through your 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 once you seize onto the bar, take into consideration making an attempt 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 really aid you with the press, however do aid you hold your physique tighter.

We assessment 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 dropping tightness – hold squeezing your shoulder blades collectively!).

#2) Proceed to search for 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 a couple of inches beneath 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.

Be aware that not like 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, keep 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 once you drive along 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 take a look at the racks, you already know that they’re there! For newcomers, it’s nice to have a pal aid you information the bar again to the proper 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 you must placed on the bar as a newbie who’s beginning out with bench urgent. 

It is a essential query, and for any individual that’s making an attempt to stage 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?“, you must 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’ll be able to too. No person within the health club 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 folks how sturdy you might be on the health club, you go to the health club to get stronger.

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

In case you are even SLIGHTLY involved that it is likely to be, think about using dumbbells or discovering a smaller/lighter barbell within the health club 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, when you can bench press the bar safely, nice.
  • Do 3 units of 10 in your first day within the health club.
  • 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 complete (2.5 to every facet) to the bar. This will likely be “sluggish 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 carry.


As a result of it’s essential practice your physique appropriately, and we’re seeking to construct momentum. While you apply excellent type with light-weight, your physique begins to study the correct pathway for the bar. Your muscle tissue, tendons, and joints all learn to bear the load of a weighted bar. Even your thoughts adapts.[1][[1]]Learn extra about right here.[[2]]

And every week, you get barely stronger.

Repeat this week after week, mix it with a weight loss 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 in the future you’ll be capable of bench folks.

Your complete technique of our new app, Nerd Health Journey, relies off this technique: sluggish progress over time. And since we’re nerds, you’ll really 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 retaining physique tight – As quickly as you lose tightness, you’ve gotten the potential for lacking the rep. Be certain that even when you’re warming up and the burden is mild, that you simply hold your whole physique tight.
  2. Butt arising – be certain your butt stays on the bench always! It’s straightforward to let it come up off the bench as soon as the burden will get heavy and you actually begin driving by way of your heels. As an alternative of occupied with driving upwards by way of your heels, take into consideration driving up and backwards. For those who’re struggling along with your butt arising, both attempt placing plates beneath your toes or re-evaluating your foot place (or decrease the burden).
  3. Bouncing off your chest – once you come to the underside a part of the carry, don’t bounce! Decrease the bar to barely graze your shirt, after which press.
  4. Half reps – Some of the frequent faults I’ve seen within the health club! Ensure you are hitting full vary of movement each single rep (all the way down to chest!).
  5. Fallacious beginning, center, and ending positions (pictured beneath) – we’ve realized prior to now {that a} vertical line is probably the most environment friendly solution 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 likely be beneath your clavicles. In case your center place is above your shoulders, in a vertical line, your center place is just too excessive.

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

How you can Ask for A Spotter with the Bench Press

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

Recognizing is an important a part of bench urgent – not solely having somebody spot you, however having you see different folks. 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 function is to make sure the security 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 providing you with a lift-off, however after that, it’s all you!

*A lift-off is once you assist the lifter take the bar out of the rack, after which let go of it when it’s within the right 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 easy!). I’ve by no means had anybody flip me down.

For those who’re all the time on the health club concurrently another person, make pals 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 carry off?
  • How would they prefer to be noticed?

Some folks don’t need you to the touch the bar until they let you know 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 need a carry off, and a few don’t.

While you ask another person to identify you, they are going to in all probability ask you an identical 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 should utilize the ability rack to bench.

A energy rack would appear 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 stage simply barely beneath your chest, so when you miss a rep you will 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 mild, it’s very doable to injure your self.

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

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

If that’s not an choice, contemplate 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.

Often 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 folks with their toes up on the bench – what’s happening?”

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

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

I’ve seen it probably the most in bodybuilding routines. We advocate you keep on with the bench press type we introduced till you grasp the motion.

2) “If the bench is likely one of the ‘large 4’, why do some folks not bench press?”

The bench press is a good way to construct power. However out of the large 4, it’s the carry that has probably the most options accessible.

Whereas it’s arduous to interchange 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 very best 42 body weight workout routines if you wish to begin coaching that manner first!

I personally hold 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 carry in powerlifting.

Steve, nonetheless, has chosen to not bench press and replaces it with body weight variations of push-ups and a whole lot 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) If you would like step-by-step steering, 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 wish a plan to observe? Try Nerd Health Journey!

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

Attempt your free trial proper right here:

Choice #3) Be a part of the Rise up! We want good folks such as you in our group, the Nerd Health Rise up. 

Join within the field beneath 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’s to it! Subsequent time you might be within the health club, give the bench press a shot!

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

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


PS: Don’t overlook 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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