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How Badly is Bench Bar Path Negatively Affecting My Lift?

Hi. I found a cool app called Iron Path and applied it to my bench video. In a previous post, someone mentioned that my bar path is different on each rep.

In the attached video, it looks like I am somewhat consistent in my bar path, but obviously not perfect.

Can you please give me a sense of how “off” this bar path is, and how negatively it is affecting my lifts? I don’t think a bench bar path is perfectly up and down, and it is truly on an angle back (from the side) like in the video, but not sure. Obviously I have a lot to work on, but any thoughts on how disasterous this bar path is would be appreciated!


What would you consider a “good” bar path, or I guess, which way are you trying to make the bar move?

Like how are you trying to make the bar move? And do you feel like it’s moving that way?

That’s the exact question. Someone said my bar path isn’t “good” (or at least not consistent). The video looks like the path is consistent, but may not be ideal.

Personally, I feel like the bar is moving more up and down than it appears on the video (moving more toward the hooks). I thought I read somewhere, too, that bench bar paths are not really up and down anyway.

Look up an article called “Bench Press—4 Trade Secrets” by Josh Bryant. He has a picture from an old study on bench bar paths, yours looks like the novice lifter.

To make a long story short, push the bar up and back.

From a Powerlifting standpoint, and a Pec development standpoint, it’s not ideal. Straight up keeps it centered over the pecs, preferably the lower portion of the pecs. This shortens the bar path resulting in less stroke and less effort. It also is bad for lift stability to do the “c” curve, as the weight goes from being over your back to a disadvantageous leverage position of over the throat. So whether or not it’s “Bad” kind of depends on your goals.

The problem with that logic is that you can’t hold the bar at lockout (with any significant weight) in any position except right over the shoulder joint. And bringing the bar down to your chest in line with the shoulders is going to require surgery to fix.

I believe many shoot for high arch to change that. Personally, I’m sure that I have some drift at the top, but it never gets over my throat. Elbow angle can have a fairly sizable impact on bar path too. He just should be shooting for a more straight up path if he’s PLing, rather than roll the weight onto the anterior deltoids at the top.It also has to kill his chest drive a little on top of extra energy burned with the longer path.

Read “Bench Press Bar Path: How to Fix Your Bar Path for a Bigger Bench” by Greg Nuckols, it gives a detailed analysis of the same charts in Josh Bryant’s article.

Nobody said to put the bar over your throat.

So all the world’s top bench pressers are doing it wrong.

I’m going with what Westside pushed/pushes. At least how I understood it. It changed my bench a lot, and I don’t see the argument. Up, and then back is different than a curve or angle. The OP finishes over his throat more or less. It doesn’t need to drift toward his face that much is what I’m saying.

Louie’s advice is for multi-ply lifters. He also seems to have some ideas related to biomechanics that people who actually study this stuff totally disagree with, but that’s another story.

The argument here is that the bar should move back soon after it comes off the chest, rather than at the top. If you have a big arch, super wide grip, and wear a bench shirt then the bar path will be different than the vast majority of raw lifters. And considering that Josh Bryant coaches several of the top raw bench pressers and Louie coaches none that I know of, I think Josh knows what he is talking about here. And there is research to back it up.


I’ve never tried a shirt (although somehow I own one, don’t know where it came from), so I cannot comment on how it affect bar path or groove. I know that benching is much kinder and easier on me when I keep the bar path fairly straight up and down. Maybe I’m an anomaly, and I’m not going to argue with Josh Bryant, but I looking at videos and lifters lying on their backs…I don’t see why straight up would be anything but good. I know I don’t want it over my face.

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I think your camera position is pretty dramatically exaggerating the left/right displacement. These fixed point tracking apps work best when the camera is pretty much centered with the mid point of the movement, try centering the camera more and see how it looks.

Honestly, ignoring the lines the app draws your bar path doesn’t look that bad. What stands out to me more is just general looseness, you kind of sway around a good bit at various points in the lift. I would definitely put a focus on getting and maintaining tightness, starting with lighter weight than you’re using here.