Tips for Setting a Record Bench Press

Get better at the sports you play and the life you lead at STACK. Improve your training, nutrition and lifestyle with daily

Bench Press

When evaluating strength training, the one-rep max for the Bench Press is a standard. I always use a client's one-rep max to decide how to design his or her program. To set a record Bench Press, use my tips below.. You'll be moving major weight in no time.

The Setup
Lie on the bench with both feet touching the ground. You need to have five points of contact with the bench and ground: two feet, glutes, shoulder blades and head. If you want to set a record one-rep max, these five points must keep in contact with their respective surfaces. And keeping contact means just that; for example, your entire foot must be in contact with the ground and your head should remain stationary.

The shoulder blades are important in the setup as well. Before lifting the bar from the rack, tuck your shoulder blades down and in. This will create a slight arch in your middle back. This position props up your lower back slightly, but you must engage your core and keep your back flat on the bench. Also, make sure your glutes are tight throughout the movement to keep pressure off your spine. Following these guidelines will go a long way toward improving your one-rep max—and will help keep you injury-free.

The Lift
Now that you are in a proper position, use a spotter to help you lift the bar over your chest. With your core and glutes engaged, lower the bar to your chest. As you explosively push the bar off your chest, drive your feet into the ground. Don't forget to keep your elbows tucked in close to your ribs throughout the movement. Think of how you throw a punch—your elbows are in tight, not out at an angle. This tight position creates more power in your punch and in your Bench Press. Keep your elbows from flaring out, and you'll improve your Bench Press in no time.

At the end of the lift, have your spotter help you get the bar back on the rack. Feel free to celebrate, because you just achieved a personal best! Then get back to work, because there is always room for improvement.

Get Stronger
After improving your technique, you need to get stronger. Most people arbitrarily stick with three sets of 10 reps for every exercise. Instead, try increasing your volume. Perform four sets of six reps at 85 percent of your one rep max. On the last set, try for eight repetitions. If you can complete eight reps with proper form, increase the weight during your next workout. Continue increasing the weight systematically and you'll be setting new records every few months.


Joe Lopez, CSCS, works with many different athletes at Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta, N.J. His expertise is in track and field, baseball and golf. He has worked as a personal trainer for more than seven years. Follow him online at or on Twitter.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock