The barbell bench press is the world’s most popular weightlifting exercise. Even though it is somewhat over-marketed compared to full-body lifts like squats or power cleans, the barbell bench press remains one of the most popular exercises among weightlifters.

The bench press is the most effective upper-body pushing exercise for lifting the maximum weight. It allows you to gain muscle mass and strength in your chest, arms, and shoulders—quickly.

This guide provides straightforward bench press tips and tricks that significantly boost your performance and shoulder health.

#1. It is best to do bench presses first in your workout.

Doing other weightlifting exercises that use the same muscle groups as benching can make you weaker on the bench press by fatiguing the muscles.

Make the bench press the first weightlifting exercise in your workout.

#2. Do not rush into your exercise routine; take the time to warm up properly.

Many weight trainees need to pay more attention to the importance of warming up properly before performing the bench press exercise. Warming up correctly is one of the simplest and most intuitive bench press tips, yet it is crucial to avoid restricting your strength. 

#3. Having a good weight bench is crucial for getting a good workout.

The weight bench should have the following specifications/characteristics:

Many believe the Rep FB-5000 to be the best flat utility bench available. If you desire to purchase such a bench for your home gym, I recommend the Rep FB-5000. You can read my Rep FB-5000 review to learn more about it.

It’s okay if your local gym doesn’t have a bench that meets these “perfect” standards. Instead, you can invest in your home bench press so you have a system that you can custom-fit based on your needs. 

#4. Keep your chin up, and your eyes focused straight ahead when lifting weights.

It’s crucial to position your body on the correct part of the bench before you lift the barbell off the safety pins.

Having your chin under the barbell is the easiest way to ensure your positioning if you’re benching alone (no spotter).

Most people won’t have to worry about too much shoulder tension when bringing the bar over their chest during the lift-off as long as they are far away enough for the safety pins to be cleared. On the other hand, some people may prefer to scoot closer to or further from the bar (bar over mouth/nose or bar over the neck, respectively). Do whatever feels most comfortable for you, but remember that it’s a tradeoff between the chance of bumping the bar into the pins as you perform your set versus shoulder strain as you lift the bar.

Having a spotter is different than not having one. You can start the bar over your eyes if you have a spotter present. Others prefer to start the bar over their eyes since you won’t have to worry about the safety pins interfering with my lift since the spotter takes away the shoulder strain.

#5. A horse has six points of contact.

(Source: Politécnico Grancolombiano Departamento de Comunicaciones/Flickr)

Make sure that your head, shoulders, and buttocks are in contact with the bench the entire time and that your feet are planted firmly on the ground.

The five points of contact, usually referred to as the lower back, is the fifth point of contact, but if you know what you are doing and want to maximize strength production, keeping your back on the bench is unnecessary.

7 Best Exercises to Build Your Upper Body Strength

Read Next: 7 Best Exercises to Build Your Upper Body Strength

#6. Arching your back is essential.

Before sitting on the bench, create a slight arch so that your body doesn’t come in contact with your buttocks and upper back/shoulder areas.

You can bring your feet as far back as possible by bending your knees more, but make sure your feet don’t come off the ground or go overboard to create an exaggerated arch.

Some bodybuilders or average gym-goers might not employ this bench press tip, as maximizing their bench pressing strength is not their goal.

#7. Your lat muscles need to be tightened.

Your upper back and lat muscles play a role in this pushing exercise, even though it is a chest exercise. They assist in stabilizing the resistance against your body, particularly at the end of the rep.

#8. Keeping your wrists straight with knuckles to the ceiling is how to stay focused and motivated.

Bench Press
(Source: U.S. Army Europe/Flickr)

When you grip the barbell, your wrists should remain straight. If they bend backward, not only are your wrists strained, but the power transfer from your shoulders to the barbell is inefficient, so your strength is hampered.

#9. Keep your elbows close to your body.

Healthy shoulder joints later in life are vital if you want to bench press properly.

It’s disheartening to see trainees performing bodybuilding-style bench presses, a movement in which elbows are flared out to supposedly target the chest muscles better. Unfortunately, while it may target the chest better, it harms the shoulder joints over time.

Having your elbows tucked in will significantly and instantly increase your bench press if you need more time to convince you.

#10. Choking the bar to death 

Using a death grip on the barbell is a quick and easy way to squeeze out a few extra pounds on the bench press. It makes you feel more in control of the bar’s movement and helps you tense up the other assisting muscles.

#11. To strengthen opposing muscles, please take a moment to firm up the muscles in your hands by making a fist.

Improving your strength on back and bicep exercises is one of the most effective bench press tips, yet it is often overlooked.

The bench press involves the opposing muscle groups of the back and biceps. The more strength these muscles have, the more weight you can add to the bench press and develop them.

#12. Improve your secondary muscles

The triceps and front deltoids are the secondary muscle groups involved in the bench press exercise. These secondary muscles may be a weak link restricting progress, so strengthening them might rejuvenate your results.

#13. Do one-rep warm-ups before your workout.

Having the ability to perform better during your work sets if you do just 1 rep with more than 100% of your working set weight is one of my favorite bench press tips.

If you want to lift 185 pounds five times for your work sets, you should do one warm-up set of 190-200 pounds for one rep.

Understanding how to bench press properly and avoiding common mistakes can help you build more strength and break through plateaus. These tips are meant to help you achieve your goals; therefore, only utilize the ones pertinent to your situation and objectives.

Ready to level up your bench press game? Build your own home gym setup today!