Boost Your Bench

A step-by-step guide to proper bench-pressing technique.


Jason Breeze


The question is asked of anyone even slightly buffer than Justin Bieber. Of course, it doesn’t ultimately matter in bodybuilding, which is all about muscle and not at all about metal. Still, even Flex Lewis spends a lot more time in gyms than on stages. And because the bench press has been ordained the best arbiter of upper-body strength, most of us want to truthfully answer that clichéd query with a big number. Help has arrived. Here’s how to boost your bench. 


Whenever you plan to push a set of bench presses to near failure, have a capable spotter hovering just behind you for safety, but also for the peace of mind that will allow you to go for that crucial extra rep that you never locked out before. A spotter can also help you unrack and rerack the bar. 


Lie down on a flat bench. Place your feet flat on the floor shoulder-width apart and either directly under your knees or slightly behind your knees. You want to form a strong base, and to do this you need your feet in the best position to stabilize your body. If your feet are in front of your knees, your base will be weaker. If they’re too far back, your heels will come off the floor, again weakening your base. And— this must be shouted—if your feet are on the bench or up in the air with legs folded, your legs will be useless. We all see people do this. Perhaps you’re guilty of it. Some bodybuilders want to “take their legs out of the lift,” feeling this will help them better focus on their chests. Forget it. All this does is weaken your bench press. It’s like squatting on a wobble board. Doing so will increase your balance but decrease your strength. To grow stronger (and bigger), you want to maximize your bench press, so keep your feet flat on the floor. 


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