2 Quick Bench Press Fixes

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Full disclosure:  I hate bench pressing. Not because I think it’s dangerous or anything. I’m just no good at at. By that token I also hate, in no particular order:

1. Salsa dancing
2. Driving stick shift
3. Chess
4. Talking about feelings

Well, maybe I’m not giving myself enough credit. My best bench press is 315 lbs (at a bodyweight that hovers around 200 lbs), and while I recognize that that number won’t turn any heads at a local powerlifting meet, it’s not something to shrug off.  It’s still 1.5x bodyweight, which for many guys is more than enough and represents a strength marker that’s above average. Especially considering it’s a raw lift and my anthropometry (leverages).

I.e., I have very long arms.

Funnily enough, I remember a while back I wrote an article on T-Nation where I was discussing bench technique (much like the video below) and one guy, after reading in the first paragraph what my max bench press was, made a comment that he was done reading after that.

“Why would I take advice from a guy who only has a 315 lb bench press?” he stated.

To which I shot back, “Well, my internet max is like 455. I obviously know what I’m talking about.”

Count it!

Listen, I’ll be the first to admit I’ll never break any bench pressing records. But I know how to coach, and I know how to coach the bench press.

Below is a video I shot a few months ago that for some reason I completely forgot about. I happened to come across it this morning and figured it would be a nice thing to share with the masses.

Yeah, you’re welcome…..;o)

In it I discuss two common bench pressing mistakes that I see a lot of trainees make and how to address/fix them – especially if pressing hurts your shoulder(s).

Zero points awarded to me for the lame attempt at a beard.

Note:  this IS NOT an all-points tutorial on bench pressing. I only wanted to highlight these two common mistakes. So, to the guy giving my flak for not saying anything about leg drive. Relax. Go watch a Dave Tate video.

In Addition

For some more insight on how you can make bench pressing a little more “shoulder friendly” check out THIS article from a few months ago discussing five other strategies you can implement today.

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.
  • Ben Garner

    My shoulder hurts when I bench. I found the advice in this T-nation article to be very helpful:


    When I decline the bench just a little as described in the article, my shoulder feels much stronger and more stable.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    • TonyGentilcore

      Yep, that’s something I outlined in the article I linked to at the end of this post. Decline bench limits the amount of shoulder flexion involved and helps keep guys out of the “danger zone.”

  • Sal

    What happens when you lose your groove, or pause too long at the touch and go point, and get pinned by the bar in front of your friend? what-had-happened?

  • Patrick Striet

    One tip I got from smitty diesel was to perform a slight “elbow correction” before lowering. By slightly externally rotating at the shoulder, the elbows will rotate in just a bit and when you descend, your arms end up in the perfect position relative to the torso.

    Another tip I just got from your own Greg Robbins was to act like you are performing a leg extension while benching. I never “got” the concept of leg drive and tension, but this tip finally allowed me to get it right.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Can’t go wrong with either of the two suggestions. Thanks for sharing Patrick!

      The one from Greg is one that I’ve been using as well, to great effect.

  • Jody

    My low back can’t tolerate the arching thing. What’s up with that?

    • TonyGentilcore

      You’re probably just a bit more extension intolerant. The arching of the back isn’t mandatory. If it hurts, don’t do it. Benching with a flatter back is fine.

      • Jody

        Thanks, Tony!

        • TonyGentilcore

          Glad to help.