Pin back those shoulder blades. Try to pinch them together while pulling your chest up. Pull your shoulders down toward your hips while arching your middle and lower back.
This will help create stability and shorten how far you press. Imagine trying to make your flat bench look like a decline bench.
Keep those wrists straight! Trying to crush the barbell in your hands will giving you better leverage to press.
Get your legs under you by positioning them where they feel strong and stable. Then push/flex your quads like you're trying to lift your body off the bench.
Your legs will be tight throughout the entire movement. Some end up only flexing their legs when they press.
That's when your ass comes off the bench and you look like your having a seizure on the bench.
As you begin to lower the weight, start tucking your elbows in to your sides. This will have you pressing with better leverages and reduce stress on your shoulders.
Don't tuck your elbows in to your sides too much at the start-only as you're lowering the bar.
Bench off your nipples. Nah, they won't get chaffed ... they may get hard though!
Take the weight out of the rack and let it "drift" toward your sternum before starting your descent. The barbell should be even with your lower pecs/nipples before you begin lowering.
When the bar touches your T-shirt, it should be a little lower than your nips.
Push the barbell away from you by flexing your lats. You know that lat spread you hit every morning after logging on to Bodybuilding.com?
Come on, dude: Don't lie! You know you flex every morning before and after your shower.
(After the shower is the best because the heat from the water gets the veins cranking, although staring down some serious shrinkage is a tough way to start your day.)
Anyway! When you flex your lats like you would when hitting your lat spread-that's how you need to flex your lats out of the bottom position of the bench press.
When it's time to press the weight, push it up with everything you got. Simple enough, right? Don't lose sight of this.
You now have a lot to remember, but above all else, being strong has a lot to do with showing up and working your ass off.
Drive your head into the bench to finish off the press.
Lastly, change stuff up a bunch. Don't do regular benches every week. Try partial-range-of-motion presses out of a rack, where it's about half the distance of a regular bench.
Try benching with a 2-second pause on the chest. Try benching off a phone book or some boards.
Throw in some close-grip work. Rotate a few exercises around from one week to the next and watch your numbers take off.
Most important, get yourself tight!
Jim Wendler from EliteFTS, author of the hugely popular 5/3/1
• Your shoulder blades must be pushed back, and your chest must be spread throughout
the bench press. If you’re benching without the aid of a bench shirt, most of the bar
weight (and your bodyweight) should be supported by your upper back. This will help
keep the bar from touching too low. It will ensure that you don’t lose your tightness, and
that you’ll be pressing from a strong bottom position.
• Your lower back should be arched and kept that way. This does not mean you lift your
butt off the bench.
• Again, do NOT lift your butt off the bench. This bears repeating.
• Foot placement is up to you, but make sure they’re in a solid and strong position. I like to
place my feet back slightly toward the head of the bench, and I assume a stance that’s
narrow enough to allow my legs to squeeze the bench. As I press up, I drive my heels
into the ground and squeeze my legs, picturing all the energy from my legs and hips
driving into the bar. This is “leg drive.” Think about squatting the weight up.
• Grip width is also up to you. Over the years, I’ve found that a narrow grip is a little
healthier in the long run than a wider grip. My grip is around 18” between index fingers.
This may limit my weights in the short term, but it’ll ensure that I won’t have any pec or
shoulder problems in the long run. It’s better to press today and tomorrow than just to
• As soon as the bar is in your hands, make sure your lower and upper back are arched,
your feet are firmly on the floor, and your hands are wrapped tightly around the bar.
• I like to take a large breath and force it into my diaphragm before lifting the bar off. This
helps me feel stronger and more stable when I get the bar. A strong and easy lift-off is a
great way to improve your lift and your mental state. Again, don’t “wimp” the bar off the
• Don’t use a lift-off partner when you train. Use this only for maximal attempts.
• I usually hold my breath for the first 2-3 reps of every set. This is hard to do, but it
ensures good technique and you won’t lose tightness.
• If you’re using a closer grip like I do, the bar will touch higher on the body than it will with
a wider grip – usually hitting just below my nipples. If you use a wider grip, the bar will hit
• Because you’ll be hitting higher on the chest with a closer grip, the bar will travel only
slightly back toward your face. This is because you’ve already started the press closer to
your head than you would have with a wider grip.
• With a wider grip, this path will be more pronounced because you’re hitting your chest
lower. This will trace a “C” motion.
• Keep your elbows tucked on the way down. This doesn’t mean they should be tucked
into your sides. A slight tuck will suffice. If you tuck too hard, you’ll lose power off the
bottom of the lift. This is where most people get stuck.
• Once you touch your chest, keep your elbows tucked and drive the bar back slightly.
About halfway up, allow your elbows to flare out, and keep pushing up and back.