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Can't Keep Bar Balanced w/ Benching

I recently stopped using the smith machine for benching, and switched to standard barbell benching. I can only 10 reps with 135 right now, but I have trouble keeping the bar balanced. It seems that if I lose concentration on keeping the bar level, it starts to sway back and fourth all over the place, dipping from side to side, etc…my reps need to be pretty slow, and I concentrate on keeping the bar as level as possible during the bench. What does this mean? The weight isn’t too heavy, how can I increase the balance in each arm, and stabilize my bench press?

I never experienced any problems with the bar swaying, unless my grip is off. Just line up your hands right and everything should be fine, other than that I can’t help you much.

Classic reason not to use the smith machine for benchpress, doesn’t engage your core or allow free range of movement. Try single arm dumbell benchpress to help strengthen the core, barbell bench should be much more stable after that.
Good luck.


Ditto what JamFly said. This is one of the main reasons why free weights are better - they engage many more muscles because you have to stabilize the weight. It’s not abnormal at all to have problems just having switched to free weights.

If you just keep practicing with the bar, your stabilizers will strengthen. Dumbbells will help also - you should rotate both in anyway. Keep the weight low until you feel stable. Don’t try to lift heavy right away because your shoulders are very weak compared to your chest and triceps and you could very easily hurt yourself.

Focus on staying as tight as possible. Make sure your shoulder blades are back and locked, your feet are on the ground and that your whole body is tight.

I also had this problem after working out exclusively on a hammer strength bench press. I switched to doing Dumbell presses for awhile and it helped a lot.

You just need some time to get used to it. After two or three more chest days the shakiness will leave.

Same things happened to me when I first started lifting weights. It will get better in time. Try pulling the bar apart…that helps a lot. Dumbbell presses are good too.