T Nation

Bench Press Form Check


Got some feedback in my log...thought it would be good to post here, too. I prefer to bench with a close grip. Thanks in advance for any critique.


I just a put a video up like this a couple days ago. MrTorres hooked me up with those links above. It is a good way to go through and double check your steps that you go through on the bench.

You seem to be very flexible, as you have the ability to get a really strong arch. I would check your steps to make sure you are getting enough leg drive, and enough pressure into your upper back. Just because you can get that much of an arch does not necessarily mean that you are generating enough drive from your lower. You also have a lot movement throughout your body during the lift. If you watch dave's video series linked above, you can will eventually see how he points out that you need to be stable in your legs and core throughout the movement. Also, your wrists are severely broken. What i mean is that your wrists, elbows, and barbell are not in line. When you grip the bar, squeeze it and lock your wrists in so the bar cannot roll into the cradle of your palms. Keep your joints and in line and drive.

(and move the leg press out of the way next time you make a vid!)


If you want a stronger bench your gonna have to at least play with wider grips. Everything looks decent for now, just keep truckin it and adding weight.

I couldn't stop watcing the dick head who was spotting you.


first off.... i'm so damn glad i have a private gym now. what in the hell was the dude doing behind you with the dumbells?? i also love the extra shhhmedium underarmour t-shirt and weight lifting gloves on your spotter.

what i see- you get no leg drive. you can tell when someone is getting leg drive when you see the lower body flex as you press. you should be actively forcing your heels down throughout the lift. i bench on my toes like you but i still force my heels down. they don't actually move because of my foot position but i press down hard which gives me leg drive out of the bottom and keeps my ass down.

  • your are lowering the bar and not rowing it down. i go false grip but i force the outside heel of my hand into the bar as i press. this is similiar to "bending the bar" which activates the lats and cuases the elbows to naturally tuck a little. also, activating the lats will create a natural arc to your bar path bringing it low on the chest and then returning to over the shoulders.

-it's already been mentioned but the bar is sitting too far back in your hands. the bar should be positioned over the forearm bones. the false grip makes this position much easier to maintain. if you are having troulbe with this, get a pair of good wrist wraps and cast your wrists.


Meat, what exactly do you mean by rowing the bar down? I've heard you talk about this before. Is it sort of like keeping your arm and back muscles really tight? I'll try to get better leg drive, stay tighter in general and try a thumbless grip with that heel of hand trick and see if it helps with the wrist issue.


I say that he's fine benching with a close grip if he prefers it. God knows it's easier on the shoulders. If he were doing a meet, moving the grip out might make more sense, but if he just wants his numbers to go up over time, he can still do that with the close grip.

Also, yeah, that spotter is a dickhead. It looked like he yanked the weight up, which would make it hard to keep your back tight. Tell him to ease it up more and not pull it so high. Also, not that he should be rowing the bar and yelling "It's all you," but it would probably make sense for him to be somewhere near you in case you need some help.

As far as the wrists breaking, try holding the bar lower down in your palm. Also, squeeze the living shit out of it. Don't take that for granted.

With regards to rowing the bar to your chest, the simplest explanation I can come up with is not just letting gravity do the work getting the bar to your chest, but actually having your lats really pull it down.

Hope that helps.


It does help. I noticed that he did yank it too fast, but I managed to keep my shoulders tucked and it seemed to work out okay in that respect anyway. Definitely going to work on squeezing the shit out of it and staying tight. BTW, I instructed him not to spot me. It was the topset on the 3 week of 5/3/1 and was easy weight.


Fair enough. I still prefer to have somebody nearby just in case shit goes down. You never know what could go wrong. Whatever you're comfortable with, though.

Best of luck, buddy.


I'm not saying move to a permanently wider grip. Working in sets at wider grips will make him stronger.


True, widening the grip will definitely lead to a higher bench. He said that he prefers to bench with a close grip, but if that's just a comfort thing, bringing it out would probably be smart. If it hurts his shoulders, then it's up to him to decide if it's worth it. Doing some sets with a progressively wider grip certainly sounds like a good idea to bring the bench up, though.


Correct me if I'm wrong, I'm interested as I'm currently just starting my 4th cycle of 5/3/1, but are your top sets not supposed to be max out sets ? Or are you just meant to hit the prescribed reps or one or two more ? Cos that last rep looked easy and you could have gotten at least 2 or 3 more, although with dickhead spotting me I wouldn't try to failure haha. I set my numbers quite conservatively, had done a comp a week before and used 90% of those maxes, and the reps have been going well so I still get rather high reps on my 3 week, like in the 10-12 range, so does that mean I'm doing it wrong or the reps training has just been working well and I'm getting stronger as the programme goes on ?

/thread hijack


Generally when you decide to push the topset, you go for max reps until about one rep short of failure (or so Wendler recommends). I'm just going one rep over what's prescribed because I want to do low reps. I'd just keep doing 5/3/1; it will catch up with you. Trust me.


Looking over my log, I did 225x2 with a close grip on May 18 and 225x3 with ring fingers on ring on July 13 (missing 4th rep), both sets touch and go. So if there is a strength increase with a wider grip, it's marginal at best in my opinion.

I feel that I have problems getting tight and getting power behind the bar with a wider grip. A closer grip is just how I'm used to benching.

Ever since I started pausing my benches, the sticking point became near lockout lol, so I'm not sure how much wide grip work would help with that. Might work some in here and there, but I'm doing reverse-grip benches for a supplemental lift right now.


It might be worthwhile to just work in a few sets with a slightly wider grip. It makes sense that jumping to a very wide grip wouldn't be very beneficial if you never bench that wide. Maybe just try to do a set here and there with your hands out an inch or so for a while. There's definitely higher numbers to be had with the hands wider. Ease into it, though.


I get that this is a cue often used in powerlifting, but it really makes no sense. Imagine dropping 195 from 2 or 3 feet off the ground and how fast that would be. There's a reason it doesn't drop that fast when you lift, so how is the bar being "pulled" to the chest? If that were the case, you would be adding to gravity and pulling it down even faster than it would drop on it's own, which would obviously crush your chest.

So what are the lats actually doing? They're certainly helping to tuck the elbows, because the natural tendency is to keep the bar centered over the shoulders -read: flared- since it's the most efficient position. But I don't see how they could be pulling it down to the chest. I think all they really do is change the bar path like Meat said, which is easier on the shoulders.


Try some floor presses. Same thing happened to me when I started pausing my reps.


I totally get what you're saying, and I partially agree, but I think of it like this: Imagine doing a heavy negative where you're only allowing the bar to come down very slowly. For example, with 200 pounds on the bar, you might be pushing with 190 pounds. I feel like I'm pushing with maybe 220 pounds but pulling down 30 pounds or something. Now, those are bullshit numbers and I'm an inarticulate person that probably doesn't even understand what I'm doing, but for whatever reason, that cue helps me immensely. Hopefully somebody with more experience and understanding can chime in, but for me, I really feel like I'm pulling the bar to my chest, and doing so has made my bench go up.


it's not as simple as just rowing the weight down. try this... standing up put your arms out in front of you in a bench press position. now flare your lats and flex them as hard as you can. now pretend to bend the bar down while flexing the lats. this will naturally tuck the elbows a little. while bending the bar grip it tight and flex the triceps. while doing all these things, now try to row the weight down. if you do it correctly, it should be very hard to get the "bar" down to your chest.

it's about flexing the lats and triceps hard WHILE also rowing it down. flexing the lats and triceps will support the weight. i find that flexing really hard while rowing the weight down builds more and more tension in the lats. when i finally reach my chest there's so much tension built up that the weight almost feels weightless. with all that built up tension once you reverse the bar path you will have quit a bit of pop off the chest. combine this with a decent arch and leg drive and you have a great foundation for developing a big bench.


Yeah. . . that's what I meant to say.


Hahaha...well played, sir.

I get what you guys are saying. Essentially it sounds like it's a simultaneous contraction thing, which makes a lot of sense. I'm also a little biased because tucking my elbows past 45 degrees impinges my shoulder pretty bad, so I can't do it.

Another thing, and it might be nonsense, but it just occurred to me: Conceivably, tucking the elbows into flared lats might act sort of like a cushion and add to the stretch reflex. That would definitely give you more pop off the chest.