bench press – what not to do

Fit Girl

I see guys at the gym pushing heavy weights on the bench press with incorrect form all the time. Not only does this look silly, using improper form sets you up for shoulder injuries, pec tears, pain, and limited strength.

Here’s what not to do:

  • Don’t lift your head up as you push the weight up.
  • Never lift your butt off the bench as this puts stress on the spine.
  • Don’t use partial reps on a consistent basis as this causes limited range of motion, tightened muscles, limited muscle growth, and shoulder pain.
  • Don’t use a thumbless grip! Approximately five people each year drop the weight on their throat or on their head, and die from using this dangerous grip.

On bench press, do the following:

  • Arch your back and push out your chest
  • Pull your shoulder blades together; keep them retracted with each rep
  • Keep your wrists straight with your thumb around the bar
  • “Keep your feet flat on the floor, slightly wider than shoulder width apart,” with your feet back a bit towards your head to allow you to press down from your legs to stabilize your body, which assists in the lift
  • Tighten your abs for stability
  • For very heavy lifts, breathe using the Valsalva maneuver
  • Lower the bar slowly and push up with power
  • Warm up with push-ups or light weights
  • Film yourself bench pressing so you can see and correct your form


Source: Hatfield PhD., Frederic. Fitness: the Complete Guide. Carpinteria: International Sports Sciences Association. 9th ed., 2018. Print. Pg. 205-207.

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