How to bench press

the rack front door

Bar Setup

Make sure the bar is at a height where you can either barely get it off the rack or you have to do a half a press to get it out the rack. You want to find that sweet spot; do this all with the bar empty you don’t want to have to un-rack and re-rack weight wasting energy and time.


Place the hands either on the smooth, thumb from smooth or pinky on the ring. The bigger the athlete the wider they will have to typically grab the bar because of the width of the shoulders. Typically we want a closer grip to protect the shoulders and work the triceps more because that’s most athletes and people in general’s weakness. Next try and bring shoulder blades together and depressed down towards feet. You want to have your feet flat as you can on ground and entire back arched. Don’t over arch just think of bringing your butt and shoulder blades together. Not over arching which can cause pain in the disks. Once your nice and tight all over unrack the bar as if your doing a pullover and don’t start lowering the bar until you have pulled the bar over to the point you actually want to press it in, which I tell my athletes is bottom of the pectoral muscle.

The Press

As you lower the bar, think of bringing the chest to the bar under control. You don’t want the bar crashing onto your chest; this will cause you to become loose and make it extremely hard to press the bar. Once the bar touches the body let it sit for half a second and then violently press it in a straight line. Never press towards your face this can lead to shoulder pain or you dropping the bar on your face. During the entire movement, you should try and keep your knuckles up towards the ceiling and elbows slightly tucked. Like with the squat rack high and hard into the J-hook and then down.

For floor presses the same rules apply, but legs are straight while you’re on the ground, and make sure not to bounce on the ground you want to lower slow enough you don’t bounce or one elbow hits the floor first. Pause on the ground for a half-second as if it was your chest and then violently press. For incline variations, you will lower more mid to high chest because of the angle.

Kalil Sherrod, CPT – WSBB Special Strengths

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