Analysis by Glenn Cranham B.Sc

The bench press is the foundation of the supine pushing movements. Once mastered it will allow for a great number of variations.

A good bench press allows the participant to stabilise all the core musculature isometrically, whilst focusing on recruiting the chest, triceps and anterior deltoids isotonically.

Concentric joint actions

Shoulder Horizontal Adduction/Flexion

Agonist – Pectoralis major

Synergist – Anterior Deltoid

Elbow Extension

Agonist – Triceps brachii

Synergist – Anconeus

Shoulder Girdle Protraction

Agonist – Pectoralis Minor, Serratus Anterior


Set Up

Supine bench set up

Lay on a flat bench so that your head rests comfortably at one end and your thoracic spine and sacrum are in contact with the bench. There should be sufficient space under your lumber spine to slide your fingers underneath. Your feet should be around 1.5 times hip width apart with the soles flat on the floor.

Ensure that the bench is positioned in front of the rack so that when you reach back your arms should be no more than 35 degrees from vertical.

With the bench positioned reach back with your hands in a pronated position with your palms facing the ceiling. Grip the bar just narrower than 1.5 times shoulder width. Use the markers on the bar to ensure your hands are equally spaced. There should still be a slight bend in your elbows.

With the assistance of a spotter brace your TVA and straighten your arms whilst lifting the bar so that it is directly perpendicular to your body.

The Eccentric Phase

With control bend your elbows and lower the bar whilst inhaling. Follow a line so that the bar would touch across the centre of your chest in line with your nipples. Stop when you are 2cm from touching your chest.

The Concentric Phase

Activate your transversus abdominus and brace your core musculature. Now exhale and extend your elbow to drive the bar straight up so that your arms are straight but not locked out and the bar is straight above you again.

Continue for reps and then re-rack the bar in reverse using your spotter.

Key Coaching Points

Maintain head, back and glutes in contact with the bench throughout. Ensure elbows are vertically in line with your wrists to optimise your line of force.