The Official Bench Press Check List (AVOID MISTAKES!)

The Official Bench Press Check List (AVOID MISTAKES!)


What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.com. Today we’re going to talk about the bench
press. Classic exercise. Now, it’s probably one that you’ve done a
million times, but you’ve got to make sure you’re doing it right all the time because
one bad rep on a bench press could lead to a lot of problems. A lot of times, in your shoulders. Sometimes in your elbow. Sometimes in your wrists. Sometimes in your chest, with a torn pec. You’ve got to make sure you’re doing it right. So I’ve put together a checklist, and we’re
going to go through it step by step and make it really, really simple so we’re making sure
you nail each portion of this. The first thing, when you load the bar, ideally
you’re doing it in a cage here. Secondly, you’re putting a clip on the bar
for safety. However, I will point out – as someone that
has learned this from experience if you’re training at home – you may not want to use
the clips. Why? Because if you get stuck and there’s no one
around to spot you, your only option to really get out from under that bar is to dump it
and if the clips are on here, you’re not going to be able to do that. So again, not something I advise. I would rather you setup in a rack to do it. Now, the next thing. This is stupid simple, but look over my shoulder
here. What is the placement of the bar in the rack
itself? Is it centrally located? Because a lot of times you’ll come up and
find them kind of like that. All of a sudden it’s already throwing off
your alignment and it’s really easy – again, stupid easy to do – but make sure you do
it because it’s important. So once we get that lined up, then we look
for the placement of the bench in relation to the middle knurling of the bar. You can see here that we’re lined up perfectly. You want to make sure that you’re doing the
same thing. Now I come in here, and I want to know how
far under the bar the bench should be. You have to understand that when we lay back
down here my eyes are going to want to be looking straight up at the bar. Which I’m going to cover in more depth in
a second. So in order to accommodate that, I have about
this much room between the top of my head and my eyes. So it should be at least that much room beyond
the bar with the bench that can accommodate my head. So I’m not leaning my head off the back – which
I’ve already done. So now you lean back. Now we sit here, and we position ourselves
now under the bar. So come up on top and you can see. As far as the bar in relation to my body on
the bench, you literally want to be staring right up at the bar and you can see that my
eyes are literally lined up with the bar in this position so that it sets up my liftoff
position – which I can explain more from the side here. Take note now of what we’re doing from here. As far as your grip, you want to know how
wide your grip should be, and you want to know the type of grip you should be using. When you look at the width of the grip you
have to come down to the bottom to understand where it should be. Now you start down here – I will cover,
again, the fact that the elbow position is going to be key. You don’t want to bench with your elbows
all the way up here in this guillotine position. If you’re doing the guillotine press, that’s
a different thing, but you want to make sure you’re using a much lighter dumbbell, and
not trying to load up, as I’m showing here for the classic bench press. What happens is, in this top position you’re
leaving yourself no room for the rotator cuff to really operate. Of course, if the weight gets a little heavy
and the bar path starts to go forward a little bit you’re going to get internal rotation
that’s going to really, really destroy the rotator cuff in this position because your
elbows are too high. Your elbows should be more about 75 degrees
away from your body here. So if you know that, you set this position
up like this, you get your elbows at 90 degrees bent, and you have your forearm perpendicular
to the ground, pointing straight up toward the ceiling. Wherever that is for you – because again,
arm length is going to vary between persons – you then reach straight up to the bar
from here. You can see that mine kind of ends with my
ring finger on the non-knurled part of the bar. So that’s what my width would be, so that
when I’m on the bottom I have a fully supported bar with my forearm pointing, and supporting
the bar underneath. Which brings us to the next question: the
grip itself. What is the right grip? There’s a thumbless grip that some people
will use because they want to look cool when they do it. That’s all set, but what happens if the bar
slips out of your hands forward? You’re in trouble. So what you want to do is, you always want
to have your thumb wrapped around the bar, but how you approach the bar is really important
for getting that right. If I come down – which a lot of times people
will do, they’ll come this way. Okay, I just said my ring finger is where
I need to be. I come this way and I grab the bar, and then
I go and I grab around, or I grab this way. Around my thumb. Whichever is more comfortable for you. This is stronger, but if I come this way,
the issue is that the bar is too high on my fingers. So now when I lift off, automatically the
bar is going to roll backward and look what I’ve done to my wrists. So now I don’t have the support of my forearm
under the hand anymore. The bar is about 2″-3″ behind that and it
weakens my pushing power. It also increases the likelihood that I’m
going to screw up my wrists. So what I want to do is, I want to come from
underneath. So if I come from underneath, now the bar
is lower on my hand, and I can wrap around to the right position. But now you can see when I lift off I have
a fully supported bar because my forearm is now directly underneath this and I’m using
the support and strength of my bones to actually allow that to happen. Now, when we get ready to lift off, where
are we lifting from? These things better allow you to have bend
in your elbow because – look at the position I’m trying to lift from. I’m trying to lift, again, with a bar that
is placed over my eyes. So it’s a little bit behind my body here. So if I try to lift from here – essentially
it’s like a pullover – I don’t have much strength here. So if I have a fully straightened out arm
and I have the catches of the bar too high, I have no lifting power at all to get that
off. None. So I need to have at least a little bit here
that I can actually push because my elbows can still have some straightening left in
them to actually push off of. Same note. If I were to lower it too low, now I’m also
putting myself lower to the sticking point where I lose some strength as well. So for me, it’s roughly about this amount
of bend in my elbows that makes it really comfortable for me. So now, as I get ready to lift, the next thing
– I promise you, I’m actually going to lift this bar. This is what I’m talking about. All the setup that’s really important here. It’s as I go to lift the bar, the bar path
is now going to be my major concern, okay? Because I want to make sure that this thing
comes down, not over my eyes as I talked about, but it winds up over my chest. So that means that the bar path is going to
have to come forward a little bit. It’s going to have to come down, and forward
a little bit. Again, if I have my elbows high and I hit
the bar path right, that’s even worse because now I’m really internally rotating the shoulders. That’s how you blow an AC joint. That’s I hurt this shoulder on my other side
here. You can see that it’s always sticking up for
the rest of my life because I actually popped my AC joint on my left shoulder. I got down to the bottom of a rep, my bar
path was good, but my elbows were too high. The internal rotation popped down, and the
AC joint was popped. So you want to make sure you’ve got elbow
positioning and bar path properly lined up. Again, with the bar path we’re targeting the
chest. The lift off is going to be straight up, get
it over your shoulders, and then move it down. Technique: there’s only two things you need
to focus on, guys. That’s it. Number one: foot position, believe it or not. Start down at the feet. These feet should be under your knees so they
can actually push. If I were to push through my feet right now
my butt lifts off the bench, or at least I can contract my glutes and my butt lifts off
the bench. You’re not going to want to actually lift,
but you’re going to want to be able to push into the ground to give me that counterforce
to be able to push the bar away from me. So you can see, if my feet were out here too
far I have no pushing power there. I can’t do anything from that. I need to have them underneath. The next thing is the chest itself. You can’t bench with a flat chest. You’ve got to get your chest up. So what we do is, we pull our shoulder blades
down and back, which again, creates a stable base that I can actually push off of. Same thing as I always talk about. You can’t fire a cannon from a canoe. You don’t want to try and jump from a canoe,
or jump from sand. You want to jump from a hard surface. You want to be able to press from a firm surface
on the other side. So we pull that together. Then lastly, we tighten the abs. Just make sure that you have a good tightening
of your core because you don’t want to have any of these leaks – energy leaks – throughout
the entire body here. Press through the feet, press through the
back, tighten the core, lift off, up, overhead, right here, grip is good, feels nice and simple,
and it is simple. It’s 135lbs, but the idea is, I’m right here. Now I’m going to lower it down to the chest. From here, and again from here I’m going to
just push back up, and up strong, okay? Again. And again. I mean, super simple because I’m squeezing
the glutes, pushing through the floor, all the things I told you to do, and then when
we go back to rack it – again, don’t try to rack it in one fail swoop from here, and
up, and try to rack it. Try to come up to the top. Once you’re there, let your arms go back,
engage the rack, and land it straight back down. All right? So guys, it’s not that it’s the most complicated
lift that you’re going to do. Again, you’ve probably done it a bunch of
times, but it’s the fact that it’s one of the most dangerous exercises to do because
there’s so many places that you can go wrong. And having injured my shoulder already doing
it, and seeing other guys injure themselves doing this lift and god forbid, drop the bar
on themselves; you need to know what you’re doing. If you have a routine and a checklist that
you follow each time, it can go really quick. Mentally you’re going to blow through that
and know exactly what to do, but at least you’ve mastered this. All right, guys. We’ve put the science back in strength because
it’s important. All these angles, and all these little details;
they do matter. They matter to not only your performance staying
safe in the gym, but more importantly to the gains that you see from doing the lift. If you do it right you’re going to see that
your performance on this lift will go right through the roof. As a matter of fact, maybe you’re missing
some of these points. When you do what I just said you might see
some of your bench presses increase by a lot of weight in just a short period of time. Guys, if you’re looking for a complete step-by-step
training program that doesn’t overlook the little things because they all matter, head
to ATHLEANX.com and get our ATHLEANX training program. In the meantime, if you’ve found this video
helpful – I know it’s comprehensive – but it’s worth it. Leave your comments and thumbs up below, and
I’ll be back again in just a few days to do the videos that you want me to cover. Tell me what else you want me to cover. If you want me to break down another lift,
I’ll do that as well. All right, guys. See ya.

100 thoughts on “The Official Bench Press Check List (AVOID MISTAKES!)

  1. 10 minutes to explain a barbell bench press? This can be explained in 2-3 minutes! Was this for idiots or mentally impaired?

  2. Do you have advice on incline? I think im doing them to low & seen it suggested to come down towards the chin. Also what bench angle is best?

  3. I enjoying doing bench press but I always had a single problem with them. My hand placement was garbage and the next day my left wrist would be in so much pain to the point I couldn’t bend it fully. This video is mad helpful

  4. Hi Jeff, What about people with muscular pain just to the right of the middle spine? I find arching my back can make it tense to the point were I could lose all strength and cause me pain/ dropping the weight but the doctor encouraged me to do deadlifts so I'm coming confused, any help?

  5. So something that I can't figure out how to counter is what I guess is called 'tennis elbow'. I've never injured my left arm but every so often, I'll end up with a sharp pain in my left elbow while lifting. Anyone know what I might be doing wrong?

  6. Wow very informative video. I wish I had seen this before I started bench pressing. The equipment was old, bench was not aligned. Bar always looked crooked. On top of all that my form was shit. No wonder my left peck got slightly bigger than the right one smh.

  7. lol i been doing it wrong for a long time but still i'm glad no injuries came of the wrong form i made it to lifting 250 with just pure arm and chest lifting without focusing on squeezing my core nor have i focus on digging my back in the bench let alone have my feet behind my knees i'm glad you displayed the way the bench is set up to. i can actual set this up at the gold gym im at for better safety know i can lift more alone..can't wait for tomorrow training gonna have fun

  8. I have an issue with my grip , when I bench my wrist like rolls back and it really hurts my wrists to bench

  9. Appreciate the tips. Just started watching your videos and see many mistakes that I've been making forever.

  10. what does it mean to bench 140. is it 140 pounds or kilograms? on one side of the bar or thr combined weight of both plates?

  11. Now i understand after injuring my right supraspinatus, my humerus was too far out from my body, i could hear a click with every rep as the rotator cuff impinged , some sessions at the physio getting better now

  12. At my gym, we don’t have free weight bars, and instead use that stupid locked static up and down mechanism on the bench press, I go to PF, I know, haha. It’s really awkward to align my body to the bar because the vid says to go eye level, but I can’t lift the bar off the bench and move it forward – so how should I align my body?

  13. I had a personal trainer at a Gold's gym that would make me lower the bar to my upper chest (just a few inches below the collarbone), the prick, even after he seeing me do it like Jeff demonstrated here. But as a young guy and naive I trusted him. I never injured my shoulders but I really struggled to progress in the bench that way and my shoulders felt uncomfortable during the exercise.

  14. Today i done chest press only 7.5 kg on each side plus the bar weight. Through it all i could not stop my arms or chest twitching not sure if i was doing it wrong

  15. Jeff is saving a lot of people from injuries and improving they workout.
    What’s up Jeff, thanks for the videos 😎

  16. I hope l get an answer, is it best for women to work on lower chest only? Cause upper chest workout made the fat go and breasts appeared saggy

  17. Love learning from mistakes which made other people. Its always better than learning from my mistakes. Thanks man.

  18. Wow I benched 100 pounds without using the push of my legs I thought I was doing it wrong using my legs to push up

  19. Watched this video a bit too late 🙁 I was bench pressing the other day and tried to PR with 205 and ended up injuring my shoulder. Now I know it was because I was flaring my elbows out too far… this guys advice is legit. Follow it before you mess your body up like I did

  20. Hey Jeff, I know this is a little bit off topic from this video but I have an important question. Do you think you can make a program designed specifically for physical therapy. I have shoulder problems, tight hips, glutes, I have gotten stress fractures in my shins in the past and I hurt all over. I am only 18 so people always wonder why I am having joint pain all over this young. I have learned several modalities and stretches and recovery exercises including the ones you have on this Youtube Channel to help prevent injuries and recover from them. I am currently on week 11 of A-X 1 and I love the way the exercises are shown in videos. I think it would be amazing if you made a program using the same method with you doing the P.T exercises and showing how to do the modalities and stretches in a certain order. If you cannot make a whole program doing this, can you at least add onto A-X 1 and possibly other programs these type of recovery routines for the off days made specifically to recover from the workouts we did that week.

    "I love what you have done with Athlean X, it has truly changed my life and made it possible for me to release a lot of mental pain and focus on nothing but lifting those weights the right way, 48 seconds per set just like you taught me. Thanks for everything Jeff, you have inspired me to never let go of going to the gym and working my ass off! Lifting hurts but I love it at the same time, it is one of the greatest feelings I have had. I am seeing major gains and my motivation has increased by 10 fold."

    If you see this, maybe you can make a video about making this type of program. If you'd like, you can use what I said above on your Athlean X testimonials.

  21. This video taught me a lot. I was placing the bar in my palm and wonder why my chest never got stronger but my should did and would get injured. I had to retrain and lower the weight but in the long run I think I’ll get the heavy lifts I seek!!!

  22. I think I got this little injury on my shoulder because I used to do bench press with too high elbows.

    How to heal this injury ? What exercises I should do to "fix" my shoulder ?

  23. Aye come to find out i have been benching wrong my whole life. Back flat on the bench and using every muscle but my chest. thank you so much — I have a lot of correcting to do

  24. Hi,can you advise is that something wrong with my grip? Bench press surprise to be training chest. However,I feel my forearms more than any part. My forearm burns out before any part.

  25. Can anyone tell me where I should hold the bar if I go to planet fitness because the bench presses are locked in to a single position (ps it's the only gym in my area lol)

  26. Make a perfect sets of exercise for upper and lower body for men
    Biggner to advanced level
    I hope you will make please

  27. I really need advice with my barbell benchpress.
    Short: lagging far behind db incline.

    Even though i prioritize bb flat, i can barely press 100. After like 5*5 i start db incline and i can do 8*40 in proper form.

    Which exercises to do to close this gap?

  28. I heard holding your breath helps for better kick up like stomach full I ussuakly blow up when I’m up and start breathing and going down and then hold it but not like hella just enough for a bit to push and I let go and breath I think it helps also for squat

  29. I didn’t bench for the first month was embarrassed but now I’m benching twice or once a week depending the load of soreness and if I recovered 🙈

  30. I recently started to struggle with a problem. Muscle fatigue, failure starts to set in way too drastically, and even when I lower the weight, my arms tend to get sore really quick. It’s very frustrating since I can’t lift the weights anymore I once could, and there is no efficiency since muscle fatigue increasingly starts to set in after one exercise. That means my first bench press set i get to 10 -12 reps, but from there, including all the other upper body exercises, I can only get to around 5-6 reps even when lowering the weight. I eat healthy, enough carbs and minerals. My blood is perfectly fine I don’t know what it is. Would appreciate any help

  31. I've been working out for 3 years now. My deadlifts squats and other exercises like shoulder press are good but I'm not increasing in bench. I think I'm benching wrong. I can't find the right width on the bar, the right spot on the bench (position), direction elbows are pointed when lowering.

  32. Hello Friends,
    Can you Visit to my Channel I have
    Great💪 workouts content
    With local equipments
    Join, Enjoy
    Thanks🙏

    https://youtu.be/lYVmt_cbJCI

  33. Jeff, my right arm is longer than my left, not bigger but genetically longer.
    So I don't get an equal muscle tension on both sides when dping bar exercises. Please suggest me what measures I should take in order to train better.

  34. Jeff that was a good video. I learned more in those 10 minutes then from anyone else who have tried to teach me. Thanks

  35. Hit which part of the chest when coming down. Just said chest. Upper chest, above the nipple , below the nipple on the nipple. Underneath the clavicle,my sternum, chest is pretty big.

  36. Well explained sir thank u…even i was not aware of those thing which u hav shown in thse video thank alot sir ….from now onward i will take care of those things..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *