Bench Press Analysis


In our study, the effect of increased barbell load on the values of muscles activity and bar kinematics during the flat bench press movement was clearly visible. The greater the weight of a barbell, the greater the myoactivity of shoulder muscles and vertical velocity of the bar. It was also confirmed the presence of the so-called sticking point (period) during the concentric phase of the bench press. In this study, the initial velocity of the barbell decreased (v(min)) not only under submaximal and maximal loads (90 and 100% of the one repetition maximum; 1-RM), but also under slightly lighter weights (70 and 80% of 1-RM).

provides a list of involved musculature. This is not an all-inclusive list as the nervous system activates muscles in groups rather than in isolation. Many muscles are involved in the joint actions listed above. It is also important to note that muscle activation varies depending if the muscle is performing an eccentric muscle action or a concentric muscle contraction, as well as the technique selected by the lifter

Starting Position

  • Lie on a bench with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Maintain a 5-point contact position in which the following body parts remain in contact with the bench or floor: (1) back of head, (2) shoulder blades/upper thoracic region, (3) gluteals, (4) left foot, and (5) right foot.
    • Some individuals shorter in stature may not be able to place their feet flat on the floor. In this case, use an elevated surface such as weight plates or short steps as foot rests near the end of the bench.
  • Abdomen should be drawn-in and braced.
    • Drawing-in and abdominal bracing activates the inner unit (transverse abdominis, multifidus, pelvic floor- muscles close to the spine) and global abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis, external obliques) offering greater spinal stability.
  • Grasp the barbell with an opposing thumb grip (thumbs wraps around the bar) with your hands shoulder-width or slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
    • An opposing thumb grip provides more security and control of the barbell.
    • Grasp the bar with the wrists positioned directly under the bar. This position helps avoid hyperextension of the wrists.
    • Retract your shoulder blades (scapulae), bringing them closer together.

Movement Pattern

  • Lower the barbell toward your chest, by flexing your elbows while maintaining scapulae retraction. Lower the barbell until a slight stretch is felt in the pectorals. Avoid letting the low-back arch, the head to jut forward, or the shoulders to shrug during this motion in order to maintain an ideal and safe posture.
    • Preserve the natural curvature of the lumbar spine (low-back) throughout the entire lift. In other words, keep the spine in a neutral position. Elite powerlifters may perform the lift with excessive lumbar extension (arched low-back), but this position is not advised for the general fitness enthusiast unless properly instructed, and the person has a specific goal to increase 1 repetition maximum performance.
  • Aim to perform the exercise through a full range of motion unless mobility/flexibility deficits restrict motion or pain/pinching sensations are felt in the shoulder region.
  • Press the barbell back up to the starting position by extending the elbows and contracting the chest.

Breathing Pattern

  • Inhale during the lowering (eccentric) phase of the exercise.
  • Exhale during the lifting (concentric) phase.
    • Elite athletes or powerlifters may perform the Valsalva maneuver during the bench press. The Valsalva maneuver requires a bearing down technique in which a person exhales through a closed glottis (airway). It's a technique used to increase intraabdominal pressure and may enable a person to lift heavier loads. To visualize the Valsalva maneuver; it is most commonly performed in everyday life during a forceful bowel movement. However, this technique is not advised for anyone who is new to exercise or has high blood pressure. It also increases the risk for dizziness and loss of balance.