Are you looking for bench pressing tips? I will be providing just that within this article! First, let’s go over the tips that will be included!
- Scapular Retraction
- Not too far forward, not too far back
- Grip width/elbows tucked or out
- Leg drive
Scapular retraction is when you pinch your shoulder blades together. Another addition to this is when you contract/squeeze your lats, which will be beneficial in the bench press.
Having that stable foundation through the upper back, rear delts, and back through scapular retraction and squeezing your lats allows you to stay secure on the bench and not have a ton of shoulder movement.
This is beneficial for minimizing energy leaks so you can put the most force production into the bar as possible and not have it leak out from movement on the bench or movement of the shoulders.
These cues also put your shoulders in a down and back position. This locks them in a safe position. I am not saying it is impossible to get injured in this position, but this position puts them in a great spot within the shoulder joint. It provides space in the joint and it allows for the effective contribution of supporting musculature.
All of these things allow for a more safe and efficient bench press.
Not Too Far Forward, Not Too Far Back:
This refers to the position of the bar, when you start, on the eccentric, concentric, and when you finish the lift. Starting the bar too far forward will put yourself in a less than optimal position for the eccentric when it comes to efficient use of joints and the various muscle groups involved in the lift. You generally want to start the lift with the bar over mid-chest.
On the eccentric, we want to bring the bar gradually forward. This will help reduce our overall range of motion, thus allowing us to move more weight. This makes a lot of sense for the goal of strength.
However, it still makes sense for the goal of hypertrophy. Being able to move more load will be beneficial regardless, but the reduced range of motion will have a very minimal impact anyway, and this movement pattern puts the shoulders in a safer position too.
On the concentric, we want to do the opposite. The range of motion should be up and back slightly.
This exercise should start with the bar over your mid-chest and end with the bar over your mid-chest. The slight bar movement variance from front to back occurs on the eccentric and concentric.
Many people believe “close-grip is the way to go” or “wide grip is the way to go”. Others say, “just a standard grip width will do”. The truth is, it all depends.
It depends on your leverages, muscle group strengths, the situation, what you prefer, and of course, how safe is it?
For example, someone with a longer humorous might prefer a closer grip since a wide grip would provide a long moment arm and put a lot of strain on the shoulder, and would not be as mechanically advantageous.
Or, someone with strong shoulders but weaker triceps might prefer a wider grip because a wider grip will rely more on the shoulders than the triceps, thus allowing them to use their strengths to their advantage.
If you are trying to strengthen a specific muscle group to make the movement stronger as a whole, then maybe the close grip is best to help strengthen the triceps if that is a weak point of yours.
Of course, preference plays a role as well. Someone might simply prefer one grip width over the other and that’s totally fine.
No matter what the circumstances are, we need to have safety in mind. Too wide of a grip might put too much stress on one of the shoulder tendons, whereas too narrow of a grip might put too much pressure on the forearms.
When we have our legs on the ground, we can drive through the floor, which will transfer force up our body and into the pressing muscles that are moving the weight.
This will help transfer more force into the bar and is especially beneficial for strength training/powerlifting as it allows us to move more weight.
The only way this works properly is if we don’t have energy leaks. If we have energy leaks, the force won’t go into the bar nearly as efficiently as it could have without energy leaks.
Next up is tempo. When it comes to moving as much weight as possible, it is no more complicated than controlling the weight enough so that you keep your proper technique, but not so slow that it takes away from performance.
For hypertrophy, tempos anywhere from 2 to 8 seconds produce similar results. For the bench press, a controlled 2 to 3-second tempo might be beneficial so you can train the exercise heavy and take advantage of its compound nature.
Here is an all-encompassing bench press technique video from Jeff Nippard:
Those are my thoughts on cues and execution for a safe and effective bench press. I would like to note that this is what I find beneficial for me and is what makes sense based on the knowledge that I have. These will not be the right solution for everyone, which is why taking into consideration what works for you is important!
I am also not saying that it is impossible to not get injured using these tips/cues. There is always a risk for injury, as with anything in life. However, we can always do our best to limit and mitigate the risk of injury.
If you have ANY questions or comments, please do not hesitate to leave them in the comment section below!
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Until Next Time,
Please refer to my liability disclaimer to ensure you know who is responsible for the use of this information after reading.