The Longevity Exercise Physiology Team at Longevity Exercise Physiology Drummoyne,EdgecliffMarrickville,Bella Vista, Randwick, Lindfield and Balmain all use bench press as a way to increase upper body strength in their exercise sessions.

The barbell bench press is a great exercise to develop upper body strength targeting primarily the shoulder, chest and triceps. Despite looking quite simple, it is one of the most complex movements in the gym! Here are 4 tips to a strong and safe bench press:

1. Setting up

When setting up on the bench press, your body position is very important as this is going to set the foundation for starting the lift. The first thing to focus on is how far up or down the bench you are. Ideally when you lay down, your eyes should line up just behind the bar. If you are too far under or too far away from the bar, this will make un-racking the bar more challenging, especially when fatigued.

  •  Too far under – can easily hit rack when pressing weight
  • Too far away – more challenging to un-rack weight

2. Shoulder position

Once you’ve found the right spot on the bench, next is to position your shoulders correctly. For this, you want to react and depress your shoulder blades and keep them in this position throughout the entire movement. This will allow for more recruitment of your back muscles (latissimus dorsi) and place less strain on the shoulder joint.

3. Elbow position

When you un-rack the bar, your elbow position should be in front of the line of the barbell. So approximately a 75-degree angle from your torso. If you flare your elbows too much, you might experience some shoulder pain and the barbell can be quite unsteady. Inversely if you tuck your elbows too much, this can place a lot of pressure on the elbow joint.

4. Feet

A common mistake people make is disregarding through importance of your feet in a bench press. While bench pressing, you want to keep your feet planted on the ground while pushing the into the ground. This will allow for your body to be more stable on the bench and will produce force which can be transferred into your press. This force won’t be generated if you move your feet around or you have them up on the bench itself.

5. Breathing

Finally, breathing is something very simple, yet people tend to forget easily during resistance training. When you’re about to lower the barbell, you want to take a big

breath to increase your intra-abdominal pressure. This will allow you to become more stable and generate more force through the pressing movement. When you press, exhale and then reset at the top.

I hope these tips help you with learning how to bench press correctly or improve your current technique! If you want further advice, our Exercise Physiologists are here to help.

Call Longevity 1300 964 002 to discuss your exercise options!


Written By Guy Beynon