Top 3 Bench Press Set Up Tips

By: Nick Benerakis Aka “Coach Ben”

The set up for the bench press is the most critical part of the movement. I would even argue that it’s even more important than actual execution of the press itself! The set up is your opportunity to put your body in the most advantageous position to press the most weight possible. It is your opportunity to develop tension before you even have to worry about having weight in your hands. It’s a process that doesn’t need to be rushed but typically is by lifters who are just simply misinformed. The set up is not only critical to your success during the bench, but also puts you in a position that will keep you injury free, which is the most important aspect of all!

When it comes to the demands of the bench press set up, women in particular typically hold an advantage here. Their flexibility is generally greater than their counterpart men, not always, but generally. This process should be held in even higher regard for women because the difference between a good set up and a poor set up might amount up to an inch in positioning! That’s like being able to press off a 1 board. Who wouldn’t take that?

I’m going to share with you today my top 3 tips for setting up on the bench! These tips are all ways in which to set a tighter position on the bench and decrease the range of motion of the lift. If practiced regularly, you could see immediate improvements to your ability to press more weight!

Tip #1 – Use The Equipment To Your Advantage

When I say use the “equipment” to your advantage, I am talking about the actual bench structure itself. One of the most important things we have to do for the set up is getting our shoulders in a good tucked position and our chest up. This helps us keep our shoulders safe, cut range of motion, and engage our lats well. This concept is easier said than done. The bench itself can be your best friend here to help you set this position. By pushing off the uprights or off the safety bars, you can help leverage your shoulders into position. The video below demonstrates this concept well!

Tip #2 – Leverage With The Barbell

Not only can we use the bench structure to our advantage, but we can also use the bar! Now this is a trick that not many lifters know of, or if they were already doing this, they didn’t understand how it was helping them. Now after we go through the process of setting our shoulders, we have to get our feet set. This process can collapse your position if not performed carefully. Especially if you put your feet on the bench itself to bridge up! So how can we help ensure that we don’t untuck our shoulders while getting our feet down? We can use the barbell to help leverage! As you lower your feet into position, place your hands on the back of the barbell to help keep yourself from flattening out. Check out the video below!


Tip #3 – Strategically Set Feet

 Now placing your feet is another area where we can quickly drop position! We put so much focus into obtaining position, that we lose focus on maintaining our position. These last two tips are all about maintaining the great tucked position we created. When a lifter goes to place their feet to the floor, commonly they want to adopt their final position right away. Meaning they want to go right from the pad to having their feet out wide. Doing this would be a mistake.

If you go straight to placing your feet wide, you won’t have a great angle to maintain your push back to remain on your traps. The only thing holding you up per say is your ability to push back with your legs. So instead, approach this process a little more delicately and intently. Place the first foot right near the pad on the floor so that you can continue to leg extension straight back. This will hold your position while you drop the other foot. From here you can maneuver one foot out at a time until you adopt your final position! Placing your feet in this manner will ensure you don’t flatten out throughout the process. The video below depicts a great visual!

I’m confident that if you review these tips and put them into practice, that they will have a profound impact on your bench press. The bench is all about the little details. Tips like we just covered might not necessarily appear like they will have a huge impact, you may not even be able to see much difference at all with the eye! However when compounded together, these little details and processes add up to big changes in position and you will most certainly feel the difference!

“My website www.bigbenchas.com and my YouTube channel Big Benchas is dedicated to providing all the content you need to take your bench to the next level. I cover every aspect of how to perfect the technical side of bench pressing. I encourage you all to reach out to me for additional training help. You can reach me at coachben@bigbenchas.com.”