T Nation

Bench Press Bar Path

I’m noticing my bar path for the bench press isn’t great. Some reps are perfect vertical bar path, no swaying back and forth and both sides coming up at the same time. However sometimes I notice this deteriorate and my bad path changes mid set. Nothing drastic but I want it perfect.

My lats/upper back are tight and my form seems to be pretty good. Sometimes it will come up more of an angle than perfect vertical, or one side will come up a tad before the other. Any tips to fix this. I don’t want to lower the weight cause I honestly feel as if I can handle the weight I’m using, just need a few technique tips

Unfortunately if your technique is breaking down then your clearly not strongly enough or conditioned enough to use the weight your using. Leave your ego at the door. If your striving for perfect form I suggest going back to weight you CAN handle perfectly and really smash that weight and say until you can hit 5x5 with out any form break down what so ever don’t increase. Kinda sucks but in the long run will pay off.

Shit, I just typed up a paragrpah long repsonse then lost it when I went to submit it. I’m going brief for this one haha. Basically I know its not a weight issue as much as a technique issue cause it happens during a set of light weights or a set of really heavy weights. Also trust me when I say its not an ego problem as I’m not pushing that much weight to begin with.

I’m just looking to hit the same spot on my chest every time and the same spot on the ceiling every time and sometimes the bar is straying from that path. Nothing too terrible but I am striving for almost perfect form while training for strength. Also straying from the perfect vertical bar path is undoubtedly interfereing with my ability to get more reps.

Thanks though Reed, I respect your opinion and you may be right. I just feel very strongly that it’s not too much weight and that it must be some minor tecnhique issue.

If anything it seems as if once I fix my technique issues I may be able to bench more, as a perfect vertical bar path eliminates some of the force acting against the barbell.

Post a video. If you feel that it is def not a weight issue then it would most likely be caused by either getting loose as the reps increase or a certain muscle is fatiguing prematurely and causing you to drift.

My recommendation at this point find out what your Rep sweet spot is. If you can perform 3 reps with absolute perfect form but 4 starts to sway then only perform sets of 3 for multiple sets upwards of 8-10 depending on what kind of weight is being used. Do not start straying from the path every single time you do you are re-enforcing that habit as you fatigue and eventually it will turn into a bad habit. Its easier to learn and teach your self right once than it is to get in a shitty habit for 6 months+ and then have to unteach your self and start all over.

Yeah thanks Reed. I know I’m still a beginner but I think I’m at the point where I can tell whether it is a bad technique issue or too much weight. I think you may be right about getting loose as the reps increase. Its hard to be sure though as its not consistent. If I can do a set with good form yet a variation in bar path every few reps is this considered a legitimate bench press?

Obviously I want to hit the same “groove” every single time but I’m confident in the fact that it is still a legitimate bench press. I think the real problem is touching a different spot on my chest each time (even but just an inch), which in turn leads to a fucked up bar path on the way up. I try to focus on form during my warm up sets but its hard to have form in mind when going for a rep record on the last set of 5/3/1.

Man if the bar touches your chest and then is locked out completely while ass stays in contact with with he bench and feet stay planted it is legitimate no matter what the bar path. Try taking chalk and putting it on the center of the bar and wear a black shirt to train in. This will allow you to see exactly where the bar is coming into contact with your chest there should only be one spot. if its not spot on the same location every time fix it. But this will allow you to see if your hitting high or low more often than the other.

Yeah its def legit then haha. LIke I said my form seems pretty good but I want to make it perfect. I’ll def try the chalk tip, I’ve been thinking of getting chalk anyways.

What weight are you using? What percentage of your max is it?

There are a lot of big benchers that don’t use a straight bar path. There are different lines of thought on it. Point being, a non-straight bar path isn’t necessarily wrong.

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:
There are a lot of big benchers that don’t use a straight bar path. There are different lines of thought on it. Point being, a non-straight bar path isn’t necessarily wrong.[/quote]

Agree, but I think the OP was talking more about touching a different spot on his chest from rep to rep and one side of the bar coming up faster than thr other or lower on the chest.

OP, chalk’s a cheap trick to check. My suspicion is loose set-up, or losing your stability in mid set. You may also be bringing the bar down too fast. Fast is better, but if you are getting loose or inconsistent also try lowering the bar more slowly and under control. If it really is not a “too much weight” issue then slower eccentric will allow you to focus on touching in the same spot every time, especially if using chalk to mark where it hits you.

Another simple trick is to make sure your wrists stay vertical when benching. Do it by squeezong the bar hard thru the whole rep and also even thinking of flexing your forearm just a bit. Not necessarily the most likely culprit, but it’s a quick fix and I have noticed irregular bar path is often associated with cocked wrists as it works against proper alignment.

Thanks Aragorn. You know what it just may be that I’m letting the bar roll back in my wrists during the set. Atleast thats one of the things I haven’t checked for yet. Next time I do a bench session I’ll try and nail down which one of these things it is and fix it. Once again thanks for the help guys

Have you thought about switching over to DB’s for a week or two? This is what I’ve done in the past that usually helps me a lot with stability and I can usually set a PR or two when returning to BB bench. You might need to go a little light for a week or so though.

Ive started doing some higher rep dumbell benching and some pumpy stuff and it seems to be helping my regular bench out at least a little bit.

I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of using dumbbells to bring up stability. Thanks for that. I’m doing 5/3/1 progression for my main lifts so I don’t want to completely ditch the bench press. Maybe I’ll do higher rep sets after benching or even heavier sets on a different day. Thanks again