Let’s Get Technical: Bench Press

In the latest edition of our of Let’s Get Technical series, we’re having a look the Bench Press. This compound exercise is a great way to improve your general upper body strength, so we’re going to take a deeper look into the form, how it’s done and why. For more information, take a look at one of our fitness classes for expert guidance.

How its done

Set Up

The ideal set up is to have:

  • 3 Points off contact on the bench
    • Upper Back
    • Bum
    • Feet

Adopting this set up gives you the advantage of utilising the leg drive.  Trust us there’s more than chest involved in a bench press.  Plus this position should automatically initiate a tight upper back, retracted those shoulder blades back and down helping drive your chest up.  This in combination with driving your feet into the ground just behind your knees if you can sets you up optimally and gives you a stronger and more stable base to press from.

Down Phase

  • As the bar descends drive into the floor with your feet creating a solid base.
  • Retract your shoulder blades back and down, keeping your back tight.
  • Aim for the bar to touch your lower chest.

Muscles Action

  • Eccentric loads through Pectorals, Anterior Deltoid and Triceps.
  • Isometric loads in the torso and lower body to hold posture. 

Up Phase 

  • Maintain the leg drive has the bar returns back to its start position in a small arc so the bar finishes sitting above your shoulders.

Muscles Action

  • Concentric loads through Pectorals, Anterior Deltoid and Triceps.
  • Isometric loads in the torso and lower body to hold posture. 


  • If you can always work with a spotter to help hand-off the bar to you as well as be there to spot when the tough reps kick in.  Having a spotter to hand-off to you has the advantages of you being able to maintain the shoulders in a retracted position, as if you have to take the bar from the rack yourself those shoulder blades have got to protract (round forward) in order to do so, which means before you’ve even started your first rep you’ve placed those shoulders in a vulnerable position already.
  • Press fast and to lock out, that bar wants to be traveling in a full range of motion, no half reps around here please!
  • Lastly don’t just train your mirror muscles and leave out your back and everything behind you, building a strong upper back can add KGs to your bench as well as your deadlifts.  Not only that but your programmes should always have some symmetry to them, equal pushes to pulls, unless your working on postural correction or its your sport specific, even so you’ve got to consider the longevity of your body’s health too.

Dan Cumberworth

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If you want to learn more about Elevate Fitness, come along to one of our fitness classes or get one-to-one support from our personal trainers, such as Dan!

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