T Nation

Bench Press Bar Placement

Let me clear about this: I’m not a strong bencher. It is really pretty pathetic compared to my squat and my dead lift, and I’m working on closing the gap to make it a bit more respectable.

One reason I suck so badly at benching is until recently, I didn’t like it - it was uncomfortable and made my chest feel like garbage. Since I wasn’t training to compete in power lifting I didn’t see any point in benching, so I didn’t.

Now I’m training for power lifting, of course it is a different story and for the last two and a bit months I’ve been working on my bench. I’m actually starting to enjoy it, and that’s mostly because it is now comfortable. I’m still nowhere near as comfortable with it as my squat or dead lift, but I’m getting there. The main thing is that it doesn’t make any part of me feel like garbage.

Now, I’ve had feedback from some friends who know their lifting pretty well that I lower the bar far too low onto my chest and that there is far too much horizontal movement. The thing is, this is as comfortable as benching has ever been for me, and its also comfortable when I approach my max. Hell, it actually gets MORE comfortable the heavier I go (in my case, heavy isn’t really the right word since my best is 220 at 187).

Anyway, today I had the nicest time benching yet. I tried a bigger arch and feet under the bench with heels raised. I went up to 203 or so, and as soon as I got the bar off my chest is just seemed to want to move all by itself, and FAST. A couple of times I almost got caught out because I didn’t expect it to move so fast.

My set up is currently: set my arch; sit the bar on the heels of my hands and squeeze; set my lats/break the bar; get big air and hold it; unrack and hold; pull the bar down to the base of my sternum all the while squeezing and trying to break the bar; sit on my chest/high stomach for a moment; and press. I try to keep bending the bar as I press and also visualise sliding the bar across my body towards my forehead rather than straight up. This seems to make it move much better.

Now, is this an okay way to bench for a raw lifter? I’m leaning towards yes because it feels so damn good, but I’d be grateful for some feedback.

Here’s the video:

tbh if this feels great i really can’t imagine how u used to bench in the past!
This way isn’t efficient at all.

Your setup is ok but u can still work on getting tighter and bigger arch.

When u unrack the bar take it further forward to a spot where it feels weightless (don’t start with it above ur face. You want it more above ur upper chest)

When lowering the bar always keep the elbows underneath it and rotate them in a little bit at the same time. Touch somewhere below nipples to upper abs (find ur sweet spot depending on arms length and grip width)
In the video the elbows are way behind the bar creating an necessary torque on them.

As u press press up and rotate elbows out.

Keep in mind I only have about 2 years under the belt when I give this ‘advice’.

I think when you start, the bar is too far up. It is right above the neck instead of being above the chest, which to me, it seems, should be very difficult to hold and control approaching max weights.
The second thing would be, I think you lower the bar too low on your stomach, it looks like the horizontal bar path is about 80% of the vertical bar path, again, visually this looks like it should be very hard to control at max weights.

Personally, I would set the bar up lower at the top, and lower the bar higher at the bottom (I hope you make sense of this). But then again what works for one doesn’t necceserily have to work for another.

Now that’s something I hadn’t even thought of! Awesome, start with the bar lower down my body. I might play around with that. Thanks guys!

For some reason it says the video isn’t able to be viewed in my country. (USA)

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:
For some reason it says the video isn’t able to be viewed in my country. (USA)[/quote]

I’ll repost the link shortly. There was a copyright infringement but I thought I removed the music.

Yeah, you’re touching too low on your chest, which means a lot of power is going to waste.

When you press, you want to keep your elbows under the bar at all times.

Sorry, it took longer than expected. Visible now?

And yes, I can see I’m actually getting my elbows behind the bar when I touch so thanks for putting me onto that. I think if I aim for low/mid sternum I should be sweet.

[quote]MarkKO wrote:
Sorry, it took longer than expected. Visible now?

And yes, I can see I’m actually getting my elbows behind the bar when I touch so thanks for putting me onto that. I think if I aim for low/mid sternum I should be sweet. [/quote]
Nope, still can’t see it.

[quote]tylerkeen42 wrote:

[quote]MarkKO wrote:
Sorry, it took longer than expected. Visible now?

And yes, I can see I’m actually getting my elbows behind the bar when I touch so thanks for putting me onto that. I think if I aim for low/mid sternum I should be sweet. [/quote]
Nope, still can’t see it.[/quote]

Stupid Youtube! I went through the edit process to remove the track and apparently it did nothing. Going to have to work on it.

Your benching does not look good. You’re benching inefficiently, and it feels better to you because the muscles you are supposed to (mainly) use aren’t very strong. Raw benching should have you using more elbow flare and not touching higher. It looks like you’re wearing a multi-ply shirt.

You should gain more mobility in your spine and hips so you can arch higher and work on your back and chest so your range of motion won’t be so long. You should also start touching higher and stop over-tucking your elbows.

Aside from touching higher and arching your back more, bring your feet out a bit. There is no way you can get any leg drive like that.

I got shown how to set up properly yesterday, and it gave me significantly more arch. Also placed a bit higher up (low sternum). No new PR, but definitely an improvement.

i got the same problem as you that on paper a very inefficient bench form is how im the strongest. But you gotta atack your weaknesses and just start benching with good form. You will get stronger with proper form and also i found i get cary over to my weird ass competion form

[quote]MarkKO wrote:
I got shown how to set up properly yesterday, and it gave me significantly more arch. Also placed a bit higher up (low sternum). No new PR, but definitely an improvement. [/quote]
Don’t try to set any PR’s for a while with the new proper form. The muscles, ligaments and tendons won’t be used to the new angles. Keep the weight a little less and master it, then set some PR’s.