all posts post new thread

Barbell Bench press form check


Level 7 Valued Member
I feel not very strong with my bench press and I would like to hear your opinion about how to improve.
Here is two videos from today session. Both 85 kg. I press 100 kg (single) in May 2021 and that was the heaviest I went in training so I guest 85 is heavy enough to check form.
FYI, I press to increase upper body strength and overall awesomeness. I don't plan to join any plw meet in the near future or want do drammatic increase my bench press in short time.
Thanks in advance!

Philippe Geoffrion

Level 6 Valued Member
To go off what @Steve Freides says

I think you should set up closer to the rack, but also bring the bar a little further towards your stomach.

Your elbows are essentially in front of your wrists on your descent, ie not stacked. You seem to tuck like s shirted bencher and thus your triceps are being asked to perform almost all the work like a California press.


Level 5 Valued Member
I 100% agree with @Steve Freides and @Philippe Geoffrion.

You will lose upper back tightness when you have to move too far from the J hooks.

In addition you aren't stacking your hands, wrists and elbows effectively. This is where a strong grip on the bar and lat engagement during the decent.

This will allow you to better drop the bar in the position where YOU feel you generate the most power.

Then rotating your shoulders out as you press.

As you are not stacking the JM Press will be a valuable accessory lift to help you recover a bench that you are about to lose due to poor stacking.

Daniel Vintila

Level 5 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Adding something extra to what everyone said.
Yes look to have a 90 degree angle at your elbow on the bottom position and a good way to practice that is to start your lift off your chest and play around with your grip width.
Also when pressing the weight off your chest learn to press the weight lower on your body, which mean you lockout somewhere lower. If you pay attention the weight goes off your chest on top of your face in a lockout position and it travels more distance that way. You basically want the bar to travel in a straight line.Having the bar travel less distance from your chest to the lockout will make your lift stronger and more efficient.
Try having a flat feet on the ground and push with your legs more as well ( hard to see if you do it but usually when someone uses their feet there's a small hip raise off the bench, but the glutes are still touching the bench).

Kenny Croxdale

Level 7 Valued Member
You basically want the bar to travel in a straight line.Having the bar travel less distance from your chest to the lockout will make your lift stronger and more efficient
Biomechanics of The Bench Press

This information has been posted multiple time on StrongFirst.

Dr. Tom McLaughlin, (PhD Exercise Biomechanics)

McLaughlin published a research article on the Biomechanical Path of the Bench Press in the National Strength and Conditioning Research Journal in 1984.

McLaughlin's book, "Bench Press More Now: Breakthroughs in biomechanics and training methods", came out on it the same year.


How To Bench Press: The Definitive Guide

Dr. Greg Nuckols article provides the research data from McLaughlin in his article on "How To Bench Press"; the most efficient Bar Path Trajectory.

I have McLaughlin's NSCA Research article and book.

Below is an illustration of the most effective method of Bench Pressing.


As demonstrated, the Bench Press Bar Path is an arc, rather than trying to drive the bar straight up.

Mike Bridges Bench Press

Bridges was one of the greatest Squatters and Bench Pressers in Powerlifting.

Bridges Bench Press was over 500 lbs, at 181 lbs, in a T-Shirt.

McLaughlin's Biomechanical Research over time with Bridges revealed that his Bench Press increased by slightly modifying the arc of his Bench Press Bar Trajectory, in driving the weight up.

By shifting the Bench Press Bar Trajectory, Bridges was able to decrease the load in the weaker position of the lift.

As McLaughlin noted, "Technique is everything".

Leg Press Analogy

A lifer can Leg Press more on a 45 Degree Leg Press than if they were to perform it on a completely Vertical Leg Press; pushing it straight up.

That due to the the angle of the 45 Degree Leg Press. Research shows that with a 45 Degree Leg Press the True Weight is 70% of the Total Load on it.

Thus, if someone is performing a 45 Degree Leg Press with 500 lbs, the actual Leg Press Load is around 350 lbs.

That same concept applies when Bench Pressing with an arc.

Perpetuation of Misinformation

Ironically, 38 years (2022-1984 = 38) after the Bench Press research, "The Bench Press In A Straight Line" misinformation continues to be perpetuated.

Even Dr. Greg Nuckols article from a few years ago, based on his research (one of the references from McLauglin) didn't slow down or put a dent in this erroneous Bench Press information.

Bench Pressing In A Straight Line

There is no research to support it.

While Benching In A Straight Line would appear to be more effective, it isn't.

The Body does not move in a Straight Line.
Last edited:

John K

Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor

this is my clip after applying the cue (closer to the J hook, less tuck the elbows).
Looks to me you stayed tight. Also looks to me that the bar is coming in front of your elbows, which at least from what I'm seeing might be because your grip is too wide relative to your elbow tuck. Hard to tell but you might want to try bringing your grip in half a handwidth or so. I'm not great with computers but I tried to grab pics and draw lines to show you what I mean.

Here it looks like the bar is coming down in front of the elbow.
Angles 1.pngAngles 2.png
Here it looks like the elbow is too tucked relative to the hand - if you had "untucked it" the elbow would be under the hand, the forearm vertical, and you'd be in a stronger pressing position. Keeping the bar-hand-elbow all stacked determines grip width and elbow tuck. Thinking of rowing the bar helps me.

I'm sure if anyone thinks I'm wrong they'll let us know. :)


Level 5 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
IMHO...I am not concerned about the stacking on the descent as this will barely affect the press. You get stacked in the hole and on the ascent and this is by far more important but don't let the wrists bend. It is hard to tell how tight you are so just make sure you are so tight you can't even feel the weight in your hands. Keep grip neutral on descent and ascent and crush the bar with fingertips at the moment you start to push...irradiation is king.

With regards to bar placement on the chest...get a video of yourself with an unloaded bar from the side and see what placement allows the elbow to be highest with neutral grip while the bar is touching the chest/abdomen This might be the nipple line, upper abd, or somewhere in between. Usually, the less far the elbow is down the stronger you are because...leverages.

Although you have that tucked foot position and are stiff from the foot tuck you are not tense, there is a difference. Remember, the goal of tucking is to generate total body tension and get a transfer of leg drive into the upper body, not to get as tucked as possible.

Now, for what I would recommend as a raw bencher is to really concentrate on the hole position This is where most raw benchers are weakest and if you can get it out of the hole you can almost always get it up. If you have a camber bar with a 2 inch deficit then bench with that for all benching. If not then do all benching with a 3 sec pause barely touching or a spoto press. The idea is to get tight as heck and transfer that tightness back into the bar. Be the spring!

You will hear a lot of chatter out in the online world about lats and triceps being key..that is geared talk and not nearly as important for a raw lifter. You need chest and shoulder strength for this so make sure you have lots of shoulder and pec work in there (6-8 rep range) along with some triceps and lat work(12-30 rep range). Pecs and shoulders get you off the chest. Back work is important for other things but not real key for benching alone

Another point, know your source when reading online. Very few articles state whether they are recommending for geared, juiced, or raw lifters. As for me I am recommending the above from a competitive powerlifting raw perspective. I am also old as dirt so if it works for my old azz it should work for most anyone.
Top Bottom