T Nation

Bench Press Form Check

First post. Long time reader on the site. Decided to join and see if anybody can help me figure out what is happening on my bench.

I have a goal to hit 405 by end of year (touch and go). I did 380 today which was a 15lb lifetime pr. I failed and tried again 10 minutes later. When I hit my sticky point the bar wiggles back and forth and I want to address what is causing that but I’m not sure. Maybe lats and instability? Also I’m guessing my Delts are the issue but once again not sure. My shoulders are always the most sore. Chest second and honestly hardly ever feel it in my triceps the next day. Maybe I’m pressing too much with the wrong muscles. Any feedback on that or in general is appreciated.

Youtube video. I added a side shot to try and show form. Granted it’s with bands (trying something) but it should show the form.


That drift towards the face that is happening at the sticking point is generally regarded as a deltoid issue. It happens at the transition between chest and triceps, your stall point. But… I think the bigger problem in your case is the head raise. Not as a “rules” issues, but it disrupts your drive. You have a wicked arch (not a bad thing - just to be clear), but I think you would find this to be a different lift if you pushed into the bench with your head and healped the drive through that arch.

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Nice, tryna get like you. I notice that you start off with kinda soft elbows. When I had this issue, my coach had me focus on locking out off the rack to set myself up better in the beginning.


First thank you @hardartery and @SOUL_FIGHTER

I never really think about my head when benching. I have a tendency to want to stare at the bar as if I don’t know where it is in space and when it will touch. I’ll focus on head back. I just started focusing on my arch and probably lifted my chest an inch or so after watching a bunch of Dave Tate videos. My long arms cause my elbows to drop below the pad and I was trying to improve that. Dave hates that. My pinky is probably an inch inside the rings so I could widen my grip, but I feel strongest here and don’t think that inch is worth it to mess up my leverages.

I’ve been fighting triceps tendinitis for the longest. That is why I have on the sleeves to keep my elbows warm. I can try focusing on locking them out, might help activate them more. When fully locked out my arms also aren’t completely straight, a few degrees of bend, just how my joints are.

As a sidenote I ran Ken Lain’s original bench matrix and went from 345-380 in 10 weeks. I had done 365 but that was 5 years ago. Now I’m going to do my own version of conjugate and add lots of accessories for my shoulders.

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Good job fighting for the 380.

I agree with Soul Fighter, your arms are not straight when you take the bar out.

Then you mentioned your tricep tendonitis.

I think your jacket up elbows are interfering with your benching. Like Soul Fighter mentioned, you start with soft elbows, like your elbows/Tris don’t want to lock out. Then as you lower and raise the bar you can see your elbows moving all over the place, like their trying to avoid loading up your triceps. You can really see it from the side.

I think this is causing you to take the load/pressure off your and and press with lots of shoulders. I believe you’ll bench more if you can fix that tendonitis, use more triceps and control your elbows better, keeping them under the bar.

For me, Band Pushdowns work best on tricep tendonitis. Here’s a video showing some good varieties. Dude goes kinda fast, but notice how every rep goes all the way to full lockout. That’s the important part. At first it may be painful, but if you go slow you should be able to figure out the right way to move and fix the tendonitis.

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I have those same elbow sleeves. I think they’re alright but they dont do much for me.

I just got a pair of Yellow Jacket elbow sleeves and they’re great. I wear them for Squat and Bench. I had my eyes on Inzer XT sleeves but I wanted something comp legal for squats in Powerlifting.

First attempt looks like you paused on your chest more than the TAG you did on second attempt, so maybe that’s why you failed that. As for the bar wobble on the second, it looks to me like you lost wrist stability, notice how they go from straight to cocked back at your sticking point. Maybe try some good wrist wraps and/or work on keeping the bar stacked over your wrist.

@FlatsFarmer for a much as I analyze my bench, I never really thought the reason I don’t feel it in my triceps is because I’m working around the tendonitis. I had actually given up heavy benching due to it. Long story short, I found the elbow pain the worst when overhead pressing. Was very mild with DB shoulder press. Stared in a mirror and realized I flare my elbows when pressing with a barbell and elbows aren’t under wrists. DBs fix that since they are free to move in space. Lesson: keep elbows under wrists.

I will start my workouts off with the band work to get blood into the muscles/tendons. I also saw a video of Jordan Shallows doing an overhead DB extension but placing emphasis on the serratus stretching. He points his elbow as high up as it can go. When I stretch that area (serratus/lats) I get instant relief so I’m trying those too.

@SOUL_FIGHTER I have a pair of Elitefts elbow wraps too. They are tighter and thicker and maybe they give an advantage in the bench. I wore those when elbow pain was the worst but haven’t in awhile. I typically take the sleeves in the video off for 1RM attempts so I can say it is truly raw.

@tasty_nate I have wrist wraps, but have only ever used them with overhead pressing. I’ll start using them and see if it helps me keep the joints stacked.I might need to work on bar placement in my palm as well not that you mentioned wrist. It is probably too far back in the fingers and not down towards the thumb.

Thanks again, lots of good feedback that I couldn’t pick out myself


I know what what you mean about elbow pain, especially overhead and giving up benching and all that BS.

I watched the Jordan Shallow video, that dude seems pretty smart. If you like that serratus action, proper scapula movement and position kinda stuff, try some 1 Arm Landmine Presses. They are great for big full ROM and really allow your shoulder blade and elbow to move together in a smooth, pain free way without having to think much about it.

Good call on that. I only take off my elbow sleeves off in comp. My coach doesn’t let me do singles out of comp unless its a variation like pin press.

I even wear my elbow sleeves warming up and take them off right before first attempts. This was back when I had the fabric nordics though. I haven’t competed since I got the yellow jackets.

did 6 sets of 10 with the bands to warmup my elbows. Felt really good by the end. Did some reps with 225 and made sure my elbows were locked out when I unracked, head down into the bench, and focused on pressing with the triceps. Felt very different. It forced me to tuck my elbows slightly more and use my lats as a platform to press from. Hardest part is keeping the head down. Once my elbows are warm having them fully locked out is simple. I looked for wrist wraps and one is missing so I’ll order some more but yeah my wrist have a tendency to lose position.


Nice, tryna catch up to you now.