The bench press is one of our staple exercises at The Gym. We’re always working on form and technique, using variations like the banded kettlebell bench press and the pin press to improve our execution and increase the 1-rep max.
When it comes to the traditional bench press, here are a few tips on how to bench properly.
Squeeze the bar. You will often hear our coaches cue “squeeze the bar” during bench press. Squeezing the bar helps keep your wrists straight and will give you more tension in the lower arms, upper back and chest.
Get tight. The bench press is ultimately a full-body exercise. Getting “tight” on the bench requires the use of the chest and shoulders, all the way to the core, glutes, and even your quads. Pull your shoulder blades together, grip the bar, plant you feet, and take a big breath. This will get you in a strong position to begin your bench press.
Breathe. Before you begin your bench press, take a big breath and hold it. This helps you create full body tension, and maintain your stability throughout the lift. Try to hold that breathe for the whole rep. More advanced lifters may even hold their breath for several reps.
Use your legs. We mentioned it above, but your legs are absolutely a part of the bench press. Use those strong legs to help you push the bar up once it reaches your chest by driving them into the floor.
Focus. Pick a spot on the ceiling and keep your eyes on it. This will help you move the bar evenly and smoothly. Lifters sometimes look to one side or the other, losing their tight set up and allowing the bar to drift.
A lot of components go into a proper bench press. The above tips are just a few cues you may hear from our coaches who work with each individual on their form and technique in every training session.
Check out this article from Westside Barbell for more on proper bench pressing.