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Barbell Bench Press

This popular bodybuilding exercise develops the chest. The Barbell Bench Press is a basic exercise that involves two joints (elbow and shoulder) and allows you to work the entire bust, not just the pectoral muscles. It is one of the movements used to assess the muscular strength of the upper limbs and is used in athletic strength tests.

How To Make Barbell Bench Press

1- Starting position

Installation on the bench

  • Lie on the bench, body well centered, and slide until you have your eyes exactly under the bar.
  • Bend the legs so that there is a near right angle between the thighs and the calves. Keep your heels on the ground.
  • Then spread the legs shoulder-width apart. Once well anchored in the ground and well stabilized they will be a factor of balance.
  • If you don’t have a pre-existing back problem, there’s no point in forcing yourself to press your lower back against the bench with the idea of ​​preventing it from widening. Conversely, exaggerating the lumbar arch is not necessary.

If you are prone to injury or lower back pain, you can bend your legs on the bench to keep your back flat. You will then lose stability, so do not try to overload the bar.

Décrocher la barre

  • Prenez la barre avec les mains en pronation (pouces vers l’intérieur) et un écartement supérieur à la largeur des épaules, mais de manière à ce que les avant-bras soient perpendiculaires au sol une fois la barre descendue, et formant un angle droit avec les bras.
  • Sortez la poitrine et rétractez vos omoplates, tout en gardant les épaules basses : ceci est très important pour garder vos épaules en bonne santé au Barbell Bench Press, et utiliser avantageusement vos pectoraux pendant le mouvement.
  • Contractez vos fessiers et vos abdominaux, puis sortez la barre de son support et placez-la dans directement au-dessus de vos épaules, en gardant les bras tendus.
  • De façon à ne pas « casser » la position des épaules, nous vous conseillons de demander à quelqu’un de vous aidez à sortir la barre lorsque vous commencez vos séries de travail.

Ceci est votre position de départ au Barbell Bench Press.

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2- Exécution du mouvement

Descendre et remonter la barre

  • Descendez la barre sous le niveau des mamelons, en conservant les coudes le long du corps, jusqu’à toucher votre buste. Puis poussez pour retrouver la position initiale, bras tendus. À la montée les coudes n’ont pas besoin de rester le plus près du corps possible (mais n’exagérez pas non plus leur éloignement).
  • Le mouvement doit être parfaitement maîtrisé, la barre ne doit pas “tomber sur vous” mais arriver sur la poitrine sous votre contrôle.
  • Maintenez les épaules basses et les omoplates rétractées pendant tout le mouvement.
  • Conservez vos fessiers engagés pendant tout le mouvement. Ne décollez pas vos fesses du bancs lors de votre poussée, cela mettrait en danger votre colonne vertébrale.
  • A noter que le mouvement n’est pas strictement vertical, puisque la barre se déplace depuis un plan formé par la ligne de vos épaules et la barre, jusqu’à un plan formé par la ligne de vos mamelons et la barre.

Replacer la barre sur le support

  • Une fois votre série terminée, prenez le temps de revenir à la position initiale, bras tendus et verrouillés au-dessus de la poitrine.
  • Il est courant, sur la dernière répétition, sous l’effet de la fatigue, de vouloir reposer la barre rapidement sans repasser par la position d’origine. Cette action aura tendance à “gâcher” en partie la dernière répétition et à solliciter les épaules.

Targeted Muscles

It involves the muscles of the trunk, mainly the large and small pectoral, the anterior deltoid, the triceps. Other muscles are involved depending on the way of performing the exercise, positioning, and maintaining balance such as the dorsal, the serratus anterior muscle, the arm of the Caraco brachial, the glutes, the lumbar, and abdominal muscles.

7 Training Tips

  1. Realizing the elbows along the body, you will concentrate the work on the anterior bundles of Altoids.
  2. To apply the central part of the pecs, you just have to reduce the spread of the hands.
  3. To solicit the external part, it will be necessary to increase the spaces of the hands.
  4. You can apply the lower part of the chest by lowering the bar on the chondro-coastal edge of the chest.
  5. If you wish to use the middle beams, lower the bar in the center of the chest.
  6. To solicit the upper part, lower the bar on the eternal fork.
  7. The realization of the movement legs raised or with the feet on the bench avoids hyper-lordosis which is conducive to lower back pain.

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Risks And Mistakes To Avoid

Note here that the Barbell Bench Press is not an “anatomically” safe exercise: because of the bar, the distance between the hands remains fixed from the beginning to the end of the movement, which goes against the “hinge” function provided by the shoulder joint. To better understand this, do the following test: lie on a bench and place your hands as if you were to push a huge block of concrete. Then push this imaginary charge upwards. Observe where your hands are now: much closer to each other than at the start of the movement, right? This is due to the anatomy of our shoulders. Your hands have naturally followed a curved path and not a straight line.
This is why we present here the Barbell Bench Press using the scapular retraction technique (tightening the shoulder blades against each other), keeping the shoulders low and the elbows relatively close to the body when lowering the bar. : This largely compensates (not completely, unfortunately) for the anatomical problem of the Barbell Bench Press for the shoulders.

  • Risk of pain and injury: some types of physiques are less suitable for the movement of the Barbell Bench Press (long arms, narrow torsos). To relieve the joints, you can limit the extent of the descent, so that the elbows do not pass below the bust, and reduce the load. It is advisable to favor the variant with dumbbells and additional exercises such as dips to gain efficiency and reduce risks.
  • We repeat ourselves but force with the pecs: keep your shoulders back! Try to have your shoulders perfectly back (retract your shoulder blades), low, and fixed: literally try to “get into the bench” to create a solid platform under the bar. If your shoulders are lifted (like when you are lifting them), they are the ones that force, and the pectorals are less worked. So be sure to lock them. This action also facilitates the coordination of the chest work and the inspiration carried out during the descent of the bar.
  • Grab the bar by wrapping your thumbs around and make sure your hands are dry! Use gloves if necessary.
  • If the correct placement of the shoulders/shoulder blades provides a solid anchor for the movement of the bar, it would be unfortunate to sacrifice all this by neglecting the placement of the lower limbs during the Barbell Bench Press: in addition to a good commitment of the abdominal strap, the contraction of the glutes and the feet anchored to the ground are crucial to ensure complete stability of the body and in particular of the spine throughout the movement. You can also push on the legs, but do not take off the buttocks under any circumstances because this would automatically destroy the balance of force applied to the column during the movement, thereby dangerously increasing the risk of injury.
  • If you are stuck: try to put the bar on the chest, then roll it slowly down the bust so that you can free yourself. To prevent this from happening, load the bar with a measure or else carry out the series with the assistance of a partner. If you are alone, choose an exercise on a guided machine or on dumbbells.
  • Too heavy: at the Barbell Bench Press the risk of injury is real. Be sure to keep a perfect technique during the execution of the movement in order to progress safely. If you do not have a partner to assist you, choose dumbbells!


  • Inhale just before / during the descent of the bar. The inspiration acts in complementarity with the support of the shoulders behind and contributes on the one hand to the stabilization of the bust during the descent of the bar, and on the other hand to inflate the chest to better target the pectorals.
  • Exhale during the ascent.

To maintain the stability of the bust during the climb, block your breathing to provide a solid base for the muscles used: exhale once just after starting your push, in order to reduce the pressure generated by the respiratory block.


It is possible to perform the exercise with the elbows alongside the body rather than apart. This will bring the work to the front of the shoulders.
The closer the hands are brought together, the more the triceps will be used. Note that the tight grip elbows apart from the bust request more than the sternal part (the inside of the pectorals).
You can bring the bar towards the neck, this will put more strain on the upper part of the pectorals (clavicular).
Barbell Bench Press can be done using dumbbells or a barbell on a flat, tilted, or tilted bench. There are also machines in the weight rooms where you sit or stand like the Smith machine. They can be an alternative to the free Barbell Bench Press.

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