The Official Bench Press Check List (AVOID MISTAKES!)

  • Published: 11 January 2017
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    The bench press is one of the most classic powerlifting lifts you can add to your chest workout. That said, it is one of the most complex simply because there are so many places in the lift that you can go wrong. In this video, I created a check list to give your helpful reference for each of the most important places in the lift that you will want to get right so you can increase your gains and keep your joints safe in the process.

    As a physical therapist, one of my biggest concerns will always be the long term safety of a movement as well as the risk to reward ratio of performing the lift. In the case of the bench press, this is one of the most fundamental power moves that all athletes and novice lifters should master. There are plenty of things that can go wrong however, and the joints like the shoulders, wrists, elbows and even your back can become vulnerable if you don’t get it right.

    The first thing you need to note is where you are going to be doing the bench press in the first place. Ideally, you’ll have access to a power rack that you can set up a bench in and have the appropriate pins in place to catch the bar should you fail. If doing it here, you will also want to put the clips on the ends of the bar for added safety. If you are training at home however, the clips might be best left off the bar just in case you get stuck under the bar and need a way to dump the weights to get out from under it.

    Next the alignment of the bar in the rack and the bench on the bar is crucial to setting up a good lift. Simple enough, but make sure that everything is centered before laying back on the bench. Next look up at the bar and ensure that your eyes are at the same height as the bar itself. This will set you up for a good liftoff from the rack. Along the same lines, you want to be sure that your bar holders are not too high or too low. If you arms are fully extended as you reach up for the bar then you are set too high and will have no leverage when it comes to lifting the bar out of its resting position.

    Next focus on the position of your feet and your chest before initiating the liftoff. Your feet need to be under your knees in order to be able to contract the glutes during the movement and add to your pushing power on the bench press. If they are too far out in front of you, much of your pushing power will be lost before you even begin.

    Likewise your chest must be arched. This establishes a stable base of your shoulder blades pushing down and into the bench, which will act as a counterforce for the bar as you press it in the opposite direction. Lift the bar and tighten the abs as you lower it down to the chest. The bar path is crtiical. Make sure it is traveling down and forward and not just straight down. This will be more easily accomplished by keeping your elbows tucked closer to your sides, about 75 degrees away.

    At the end of your set, fully straighten the elbows and then slowly allow the bar to travel backwards towards the catches. From here, lower the bar once it has engaged the rack and you’re done. A perfectly executed bench press set. Let the chest gains begin, and let the healthy shoulders and joints continue!

    If you are looking for a complete training system that puts the science back in strength to help you get the most out of every lift while keeping the latest in sports medicine at the forefront of your workouts to ensure your gym longevity, head to and get your ATHLEAN-X Training System. Start training like an athlete so you can look like an athlete in the next 90 days and beyond.

    For more chest workouts and videos on how to do the bench press and the best bench press for your upper chest, be sure to subscribe to our channel here on RUclip at
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Comments • 4 485

  • Gilberto Dejesus
    Gilberto Dejesus  8 hours back

    Im just starting to lift and i gotta say your videos have helped me a lot....!!thanks bro

    • no name
      no name  1 days back

      The best athlete❤️

      • Gaurav singh
        Gaurav singh  2 days back


        • Eric Katsion
          Eric Katsion  3 days back

          Just started working out 2 weeks ago. I can only bench 70 lbs for 3x10 lmao

          • jbohn
            jbohn  1 hours back

            You will get stronger man. Don't give up!

          • Delusional •_•
            Delusional •_•  6 hours back

            We all start somewhere :)

          • Paper Plane
            Paper Plane  3 days back

            Don't worry, that's like the same when I started. Now I'm 140lbs and I can bench 210lbs. It will come quickly, just keep consistent, and if you're skinny like me, then just eat alot

        • abcmaya
          abcmaya  3 days back

          also don't forget to inhale when going down. and then slowly exhale when pressing up.

          • conjurrs
            conjurrs  2 days back

            abcmaya yea you don’t need to do that

        • K Maan
          K Maan  4 days back

          I kept using the Smith machine for my presses thinking it was better, man was I wrong! I was at the gym on the weight bench for the first time in ages, I could manage the weight but I couldn't balance it 😓. I'm switching to the old weight bench.

          • Eddard Stark
            Eddard Stark  5 days back

            My best is 215x2 at 190lbs

            • Dragonborn
              Dragonborn  6 days back


              Jeff: Internal rotation!

              • SnXT Sniper
                SnXT Sniper  6 days back

                I wish I had a trainer like him

                • Amis Imal
                  Amis Imal  7 days back

                  Good advice

                  • kashish Chawla
                    kashish Chawla  1 weeks back

                    You talk too much, just bloody lift it

                    • Iunderstan Photography
                      Iunderstan Photography  1 weeks back

                      I do most of this, but the bar above your eyes? I gotta recheck that.
                      this is the purpose of having a trainer to make sure you follow all of this
                      I've been to gyms where the bar is too close and also too high. I thought the problem was me

                      • sean lim
                        sean lim  1 weeks back

                        Is it ok if I don't lower the bar all the way down to my chest when I do bench presses?

                        I leave about 2 inches worth of space above my chest then I bring the bar up again.

                        • Mohammed Desai
                          Mohammed Desai  6 days back

                          sean lim perfectly fine to leave 2 inches of space

                      • I have no rights
                        I have no rights  2 weeks back


                        • Raj Khurana
                          Raj Khurana  2 weeks back

                          Very useful ❤️

                          • Cameron Kearns
                            Cameron Kearns  2 weeks back

                            Did anyone else pop their ac joint too?

                            • ekahnoman
                              ekahnoman  2 weeks back

                              1 minute video is 10 minutes long. Makes sense.

                              • Steven Fearn
                                Steven Fearn  2 weeks back

                                Thanks! Very helpful

                                • Salar
                                  Salar  2 weeks back

                                  This is the best video on YouTube

                                  • Steve Fredrick
                                    Steve Fredrick  2 weeks back

                                    How far down on the chest should the bar come down?

                                    • Kenneth Green
                                      Kenneth Green  2 weeks back

                                      But I’m using a smith machine press for chest

                                      • adoboFosho
                                        adoboFosho  2 weeks back

                                        6:36 and that my friends is how I got your mother to do facepulls

                                        • Aman Deep Singh
                                          Aman Deep Singh  2 weeks back

                                          Thanks a lot sir. Please shower some light on calves.

                                          • Taria
                                            Taria  2 weeks back

                                            Every time I bench press my wrists hurt.

                                            • jbohn
                                              jbohn  1 hours back

                                              Make sure your wrists aren't flexing back while benching. I had the same problem awhile ago.

                                          • Jordan Neller
                                            Jordan Neller  2 weeks back

                                            At started benching at my gym yesterday (I would've started sooner but I didn't feel comfortable without someone spotting) and it really showed me how weak I am and how much effort I need to start putting into my strength training. I weigh 68 Kg/148 pounds and i could barely do a single rep of 35 kg/77 pounds.

                                            • SealAngel
                                              SealAngel  2 weeks back

                                              How can anyone hare this guy?

                                              • Zetsuke4
                                                Zetsuke4  2 weeks back

                                                Very informative!

                                                • Zetsuke4
                                                  Zetsuke4  2 weeks back

                                                  so jeff actually popped out his acromioclavicular joint permanently on one side because of excess clavicular internal rotation during bench press??? Wow I didnt know that!

                                                • Zetsuke4
                                                  Zetsuke4  2 weeks back

                                                  Weight a minute, isnt thumbless grip for different muscle activation but you just have to go slightly lighter?

                                                  • Khaled Alofi
                                                    Khaled Alofi  3 weeks back

                                                    Will Done 👍🏻🌹

                                                    • Jack Rollinson
                                                      Jack Rollinson  3 weeks back

                                                      Pretty sure I fucked my shoulder by doing this wrong, it kills when it’s dropped and pinned back deep inside

                                                      • Fluw
                                                        Fluw  3 weeks back

                                                        U da best

                                                        • STUNTHEINSECT
                                                          STUNTHEINSECT  3 weeks back

                                                          I can barely lift 29 pounds... Am I really weak? How do I get myself to be able to lift heavier? weakest guys in the gym lift about 50

                                                          • Collin
                                                            Collin  3 weeks back

                                                            STUNTHEINSECT everyone starts somewhere bro

                                                        • los365diasdelaño
                                                          los365diasdelaño  3 weeks back

                                                          But I can’t do that with the smith bench press

                                                          • Ja'cori Robertson
                                                            Ja'cori Robertson  4 days back

                                                            @los365diasdelaño you're better off buying a bench for your house than giving them your money

                                                          • los365diasdelaño
                                                            los365diasdelaño  2 weeks back

                                                            Jack Septic Eye thank you for the advice, but planet fitness only have smith bench.

                                                          • Jack Septic Eye
                                                            Jack Septic Eye  2 weeks back

                                                            Don't bench press on the Smith... it limits your movements... start benching properly with right movements and positioning

                                                        • Johannes Jeppesen
                                                          Johannes Jeppesen  3 weeks back

                                                          That was just eight minutes foreplay full of tension before Jeff actually did the benchpress.

                                                          • Jiadong Yu
                                                            Jiadong Yu  3 weeks back

                                                            Thanks man for the vid. Time to outbench my friend on Wednesday

                                                            • LouisTalks'NdStuff
                                                              LouisTalks'NdStuff  3 weeks back

                                                              Anyone ever get so
                                                              Frustrated with your bench form you just do Dumbbells? 🤷🏻‍♂️

                                                              • dQminQ
                                                                dQminQ  3 weeks back

                                                                What is the starting position if you use the lifting machine (the one where you can rotate bar to stop it if you feel like you are in trouble) ? Also I have a problem, my legs are so short that I cant reach the ground D:

                                                                • -I_GOT_driP
                                                                  -I_GOT_driP  3 weeks back

                                                                  Bruh this helps so much lmao

                                                                  • J Black
                                                                    J Black  3 weeks back

                                                                    @athlean-x what are the mental cues regarding your back when benching?

                                                                    • first name last name
                                                                      first name last name  3 weeks back

                                                                      This helped so much I went from benching 105 up to 150 in around a month

                                                                      • HMBM
                                                                        HMBM  3 weeks back

                                                                        Sweet, I went from max 120 kg to 140 kg (one rep) by following exactly what you thought <3 Science is a powerful thing.

                                                                        Even though I'm hitting the gym for about 7 years, there's always these habits that people create for themselves, because at that moment it feels like the right way to exercise and you keep at it for a very long time (years), but with channels like this, you realise that you could even gain more power by doing it differently, thanks for that! Bless channels like you, making it really easy for beginners to start off the right way from the beginning.

                                                                        • 300deGideão
                                                                          300deGideão  4 weeks back

                                                                          Is 8:30 for PREVIOUSLY or CURRENTLY injured shoulders? Responses are greatly appreciated!

                                                                          • GrowthHUB
                                                                            GrowthHUB  7 days back

                                                                            Currently injured, the video in the top left hand corner. Don;t do full repetitions

                                                                        • LaLa Harris
                                                                          LaLa Harris  4 weeks back

                                                                          I just want learn why my inner & outward area of my elbows are always so sore afterwards. I'm I lfting too heavy? Anyone

                                                                          • Shubham
                                                                            Shubham  4 weeks back


                                                                            • yağız yalçıntaş
                                                                              yağız yalçıntaş  4 weeks back

                                                                              5:54 yeah hearing that was a relief :D I am 24 years old, and learned how to do correct bench press just now... thnx jeff

                                                                              • Tuta Parinda
                                                                                Tuta Parinda  4 weeks back

                                                                                Is that the right bar path? Jeff recommended a different bar path in another video?

                                                                                • Thomas Just
                                                                                  Thomas Just  4 weeks back

                                                                                  Now I 'm kind of afraid of this exercise

                                                                                  • jbohn
                                                                                    jbohn  56 minutes back

                                                                                    Don't be. Be smart and safe