T Nation

Where Do You Look When Benching?


A few bench sessions ago, i randomly started looking at the ceiling while benching. I've been doing that ever since (only a couple weeks so far) and I fell like it's much more natural and I can keep better form.

Does anyone else bench like this?

For years I have always been looking at the bar when benching and never thought to do it any other way.


I just look at the bar. It's not like I have to see it to know where it is, I just can't take my eyes off of it after I unrack it


In elitefts's bench dvd wendler says to drive your head back into the bench.


Most times I kind of have a "1000 yard stare" at the ceiling while I imagine pushing myself away from the bar when working with heavy stuff- that being relative to ones own abilities of course...


I started doing the same thing (staring at the ceiling vs looking at the bar) about a month ago. I feel like my form is better. Since I have the "1000 yard stare", I am concentrating on the worked muscles. I have incorporated the same philosophy in all other exercises, where I don't look in the mirror or watch myself.

Don't know if it's too scientific, but it seems to work well for me.


From what I've heard it's better to stare at the ceiling. Supposedly if you look at the bar you're more than likely going have the bar drift toward your head during the decent. So the bar will be hitting higher on your chest and when it touches your chest and you keep looking at it you won't be as tight. This is the explanation given to me for looking at the ceiling.

Whatever it does it seems to help me.


I rediscovered the ceiling gaze a workout or two ago. I was out of benching awhile due to injury, but staring at a fixed spot on the ceiling as opposed to looking at the bar fixes a lot of bar path issues for me.


x2... and sometimes I look at the gym hotty too. That's gotta be a bench technique in a lifting book somewhere...


I raise my head esp when the bar comes down and look at the bar the entire time... I used to drive it into the bench instead, but ever since I noticed meat doing it (I think) and tried it it stuck... Quite a few exceptional benchers do it too I believe.


I look at the bar until I touch my chest, then I look at the spot on the ceiling when I press. Thats only when I do singles or doubles when I go heavy. I find I touch the same spot everytime I do it this way. Speed reps are a different story, as there is no time, so I just look up.


Actually, the powerlifters you're talking about exhibit the "head raise" not as part of their technique, but as I understand it, because the bench shirts they wear naturally cause this as the the bar is lowered. I've watched videos of big names instructing that you NOT ATTEMPT to make this a part of your technique.


Thats not entirely true. I'm on a powerlifting team at Scot Mendelson's gym and he teaches everyone there to look at the bar on the way down, so you can make sure it's in the right spot. On the way up I usually look towards the ceiling.


staring at the gym hottie has got to give at least 25# carryover. If meets had cheerleaders I would suspect new records to be broken on a continual basis. lol


i raise my head and watch it touch at my chest. I feel that it keeps me tighter and my shoulders activated.


Lets not forget that growing a beard adds at least 50 pounds to your bench.


you are right... i'm not looking at the bar. i'm looking down at my awesome beard and thinking about how much lighter the bar feels.


If your beard is thick and long enough, wouldn't it act as a 3 or 4 board, thus limiting the range of motion and increasing your 1RM? Damn, if only I could grow an epic beard now...


that would have to be a long ass beard. mine is in that Zack Brown stage right now. the weather is cooling off and i wear a lot of skull caps. i get the "you look just like zack brown" a lot now. hopefully i'll have one that Wendler would give me a stamp of approval by the end of the year.


Yes that would be a mighty beard indeed. I'm not quite to the Zack Brown stage. Should have a decent progress by meet time in nov.


I think there are benefits to both. Keeping your head on the bench and staring straight up is good for most. The bar naturally wants to go where you're looking, however, this requires that your bar path be perfect since you won't be able to visually track it. You also develop good neck strength. Personally I try and use this form as much as possible.

Conversely, looking at the bar on the decent I feel helps you wind up for the concentric which I've found helps me learn leg drive and really developing a pop off the chest. Like maraudermeat said, I also feel my front delts stay tighter this way, and I concentrate on pulling the bar apart since I don't have to worry about bar path since I'm looking at it. I use this more for heavy sets with a touch and go feel and feels more natural on boards as well. Sometimes I'll start a set staring at the ceiling and switch half way through based on fatigue.

Just my two cents. Find what works for you.