T Nation

Bench Set-up


I've tried using Thibaudeau's 'shrug' setup but that really doesn't work for me. This setup just doesn't feel right. I know I'm supposed to be having pressure on my traps but it doesn't feel like I think it should. Any advice?


Maybe this will work...


One thing I would suggest is this - initially lay on the bench so that your head is OFF the end of the bench- set your feet and then work yourself back to get your head on the bench and get your arch. In this way you wont be having to move the bar so far forward. If you do it right the bar path should only be a few inches in front the the stands.


Hard to tell on vid.

  1. Firstly you seem a little unstable in your setup.

Experiment with foot placement/leg drive. Go through these steps:

A. Lay on the bench and grip the bar as hard as you can, Lock the elbows.

B. Much like you did in the vid, start squeezing your traps/back together and use your legs to drive your upper back/traps straight down into the bench cushion while keeping that good arch like you had. To do this, your legs will have to be out in FRONT of the bench, wider than shoulder width, you will have to experiment with angle/width to find what feels good. Since your elbows are locked out, your legs will force your upper back into the cushion when you push with them, make sence? In the vid it looks like you have good arch, but you never really drive yourself downward and "seat yourself" into the bench. Think of it as "floating" on the cushion versus "pushing" yourself into it with your legs. In the vid, it looks like part of the reason you are a little shaky is because you "float" until the bar is over your head.

When I get my setup, I like to:

Take one huge breath as I get under the bar
Inhale big
Start Reppin'

Once the bar is overhead I may wait an extra second or two to let the weight drive me deeper into the cushion. AND I keep my tension on my legs as I rep out.

Also, take bigger breaths, really try to fill yourself with air when you breathe, don't be afraid to bench with your mouth open. lol

Overall pretty good setup. Just really try to drive yourself into the bench with the legs, and keep your entire back tight/ breathing.

C. Your elbows flare, try to keep them tucked in at the bottom of the rep, to do this, as you lower the weight, keep the elbows inward as they fall against the lats. Breathing is going to help here too, take big breaths, try to really flare the lats at the bottom of the rep and let the lats catch the elbows so to speak.

Benching never felt great for me until I started doing a lot of barbell row. Lats started growing, all of a sudden, bench went up. So rows, T-bar and barbell help.

Good start though, also, Im no professional so just some friendly tips. Experience will help too, the more you lift the more natural it feels.

NOTE: I have lifted out of a rack like you have, with a deep groove for the bar to rest in, it makes it a bitch to pull a bar over yourself to bench with, because you have to lift the bar out of the rack instead of "drag" it over yourself, makes it really really hard to keep your traps together. So shop around if you ever buy new equip.

Overall, good job brah.


Thanks KEO. That did seem to work better. However, I've got pretty long arms so to get my elbows locked I have to raise the bar which makes it harder to unrack. Should I go with that or keep it like it was?


Wow, thanks a lot. That feels a lot tighter. I also feel better with my feet underneath my hips like that.


Watch Dave Tate's 6-Week Bench Cure video and he gives an awesome example of how to set up. He says you should be extremely uncomfortable when you're done setting up.



For the long arms problem:

Just Don't lock them out, just hold tension on them, if it means you have to raise the rack which will ultimatly make it harder to unrack. Just make sure you keep tension on them so your legs keep driving you into the bench. Lol Sorry I have stubby arms. So, basically use the same concept w/o locking elbows all the way.


A couple things. I find that putting my feet up on the bench, helps me to dig my traps in. Also, it's extremely difficult to hold your back together when you're unracking the weight on your own--which is why you need someone to hand out the weight to you...Even with someone handing out, it takes quite awhile to get used to holding your back together and letting someone give you the weight without pulling your back apart.


sorry for hijacking dude, but quick question - when I maintain the squeeze of the traps/back throughout the entire movement I can never seem to get my lats involved. Am I missing something here?


One possibility is that your grip isn't wide enough.

Think of it in these terms, when you bench, you dont want your elbows to break a certain plane. If they do, then your shoulders are taking a beating. So to get the weight down to your chest, while using your lats for "rebound" More movement has to come out of the elbows. Send me vids. Ill try to make some of my own vids to explain. It's the best way to see it happen. Then you can go and teach yourself how it feels and recreate it.

Basically what you want to do is drive your elbows into your sides, if that makes any sence. That's really the only way to explain it.....I'll just make vids, super easier to explain.


go to andy bolton's site and check out the bench video on his blog page it's about 2 minutes long but has everthin you need to know. Simple but everything you need to know!