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Proper Bench Press Form

I’ve been given two different opinions in the gym regarding proper bench press technique.
One opinion is to lower the bar only as far as the elbow bends 90 degrees, so as not to put more tension on the shoulders. This method will leave the bar a couple inches above the chest.
Other opinion is to lower the weight to where you’re just touching the chest, then push up. I’ve always used the second method, but would like to hear people’s thoughts. Thanks

not much difference. Although, stopping just short does negate the ‘bounce’ effect and with a pause removes the inertia effect thereby putting more focus and stimuli on the pecs. That said, you do less weight.

What is your current goal. Size? Strength? Bulking? Mass? Cutting?

Pressing to 90 degrees does put less stress on the shoulder girdle, but it also puts less stress on the pecs. If you stop at 90 degrees of elbow flexion, you are actually stopping more than a few inches above the chest. In fact you are stopping the length of your forearm above your chest (more or less). Unless you are limited by injuries, I would recommend using the full range of motion for the majority of your lifts.

touch your chest

If you are benching with your arms perpendicular to the chest you need to bend the elbows quite a lot. This usualy brings the bar down high across the chest.

If you sweep the elbows in to about 45 deg., The elbows don’t bend nearly as much(just past 90 deg), and the pects and don’t get stressed nearly as much. This will bring the bar down at about the zyphoid process(the end of the sternum).

Depth is individualized and load dependant.

Proper Bench Press Form depends on what your goal is.

Are you a powerlifter?

If so, it’s the old plant your feet to the ground, go on your toes and bring your feet. Dig your upper back into the bench and lower the bar to your mid-chest… go full range of motion. Obviously this is for going heavy… since your going to be getting alot more of assistance from your delts and tris.

Are you someone that wants to build pure muscle?

Put both feet on the bench, like your going to do a crunch. Lower the bar to your upper chest and squeeze the crap out of your inner chest to get the bar back up … This isolates your chest muscles much more and your actually working more with your chest than your delts and tris. You’ll activate more chest muscle here. If you gotten into a plateau where your chest has stopped growning… try this technique.
It can be used with either dumbells or barbell.

[quote]spiritspider wrote:

Are you someone that wants to build pure muscle?

Put both feet on the bench, like your going to do a crunch. Lower the bar to your upper chest and squeeze the crap out of your inner chest to get the bar back up … This isolates your chest muscles much more and your actually working more with your chest than your delts and tris. You’ll activate more chest muscle here. If you gotten into a plateau where your chest has stopped growning… try this technique.
It can be used with either dumbells or barbell.[/quote]

Sounds a lot like the Gironda Neck Press. (Which, BTW, is an awesome chest movement!)

if you don’t touch your chest on regular bench press then no one with lifting experience will ever respect you as a strength athlete.

sure the 90 degree method may be “safer” from a risk analysis perspective. but probably no safer than picking your nose.

also you will never be able to compare your bench to anything or anyone unless you touch your chest. its the standard.

Floor presses are quite nice as an assistance excercises every once in a while for me but otherwise, just go the whole way down

There are lots of good articles on this in the archives. Do a search. I have some shoulder issues and hated benching because it was painful. But after reading Shoulder Savers by Eric Cressey, I have a new love for the bench press. I suggest you give it a read.

And whatever you do, DON’T put your feet on the bench. Keep them firmly planted on the floor. Good luck!

I stop about 3 inches above my chest on incline bench. If I touch my upper chest, it feels like my AC joints are ripping apart.

I touch my chest on flat bench though…

[quote]bonzi50 wrote:
if you don’t touch your chest on regular bench press then no one with lifting experience will ever respect you as a strength athlete.

sure the 90 degree method may be “safer” from a risk analysis perspective. but probably no safer than picking your nose.

also you will never be able to compare your bench to anything or anyone unless you touch your chest. its the standard.

[/quote]

What, about weightlifting, is about comparing yourself to anyone else unless you are a competitive participant? It is and always should be about the best you can be. Nothing more.

[quote]redsox348984 wrote:
touch your chest[/quote]

What he said – but don’t bounce.

If you’re not going to touch your chest, you may as well just do board press instead of an incomplete bench press.

Get a few boards, strap them together, and have a spotter hold them on your sternum as you bench.

You can use supramaximal weights this way.

As another poster mentioned, floor press (bench pressing while lying on the floor) is also an option. For me, it’s not the best because my humerus nerves get hit when I do floor press, but it may be fine for you.

you just keep telling yourself that. don’t forget mommy loves you.

why do you think millions of men around the world pick up weight and put it back down, push out their chests and posture around? its all in competition.

[quote]sasquatch wrote:
bonzi50 wrote:
if you don’t touch your chest on regular bench press then no one with lifting experience will ever respect you as a strength athlete.

sure the 90 degree method may be “safer” from a risk analysis perspective. but probably no safer than picking your nose.

also you will never be able to compare your bench to anything or anyone unless you touch your chest. its the standard.

What, about weightlifting, is about comparing yourself to anyone else unless you are a competitive participant? It is and always should be about the best you can be. Nothing more.[/quote]

[quote]bonzi50 wrote:
you just keep telling yourself that. don’t forget mommy loves you.

why do you think millions of men around the world pick up weight and put it back down, push out their chests and posture around? its all in competition.

sasquatch wrote:
bonzi50 wrote:
if you don’t touch your chest on regular bench press then no one with lifting experience will ever respect you as a strength athlete.

sure the 90 degree method may be “safer” from a risk analysis perspective. but probably no safer than picking your nose.

also you will never be able to compare your bench to anything or anyone unless you touch your chest. its the standard.

What, about weightlifting, is about comparing yourself to anyone else unless you are a competitive participant? It is and always should be about the best you can be. Nothing more.

[/quote]

If your main focus is how others perceive you, I wish you well. I never said there wasn’t some arrogance involved, just simply it is not, nor should it be a ‘competition.’
If that’s what it takes to get you in the gym that’s fine with me.

give me a break, my MOM could out bench you with that opinion

i only go to 90degrees to and i benched 405 last week, and thats just as hard to stop there u probably bounce off ur chest like a bunny rabit

sorry bros my last comment was for BONZI50, not sure where it went first time on this site

What creates harmful stess in the shoulder is when your upper arms slant steeply downward toward your elbows, which are several inches below the bench.

If you have long arms and a narrow ribcage, this is more likely to happen than if you have short arms and a large ribcage.

So the correct question is not “How close to the chest should the bar decend?” But “How far below the level of the bench should my elbows descend?”

I’ll leave to those with more expertise to answer that question.