Ask the Experts: Should I Bounce the Bar Off My Chest During the Bench Press?

Should you bounce the bar off your chest while Bench Pressing? STACK Expert Rick Scarpulla has the answer and the explanation in this week's Ask the Experts.

Bench Press

Q: Should I bounce the bar off my chest during the Bench Press?

A: No! Under no circumstance should you ever bounce the bar off your chest during the Bench Press.

STACK Expert Rick Scarpulla, one of the foremost Bench Press gurus in the country, breaks down why you should never do this.

It's Dangerous

Does bouncing potentially more than 200 pounds off your chest sound dangerous?

It is.

"This is almost a laughable mistake, and it will hurt," adds Scarpulla. There's a good chance you may end up cracking your sternum or ribs if you bounce it too hard.

Also, haphazardly dropping the bar may cause its path to shift over your neck, adding stress to your shoulders and presenting an entirely new risk of a neck injury. Do you want to be like Stafon Johnson? I don't think so.

It Limits Your Results

The reason why people bounce the bar off their chest is to make the exercise easier. The transition between lowering and raising the bar is one of the most difficult segments of the exercise, and bouncing reduces the difficulty.

"In Bench Pressing competitions, you have to pause on your chest before receiving a 'press' command from the judge," says Scarpulla. "You do not have to lower it so slow, but you always need to maintain control."

Without bouncing, you may be able to lift less weight, but you'll get more out of the exercise. And there's a smaller chance of a serious injury.

How to Lower It Correctly

It's OK to lower the bar quickly and even contact your chest. However, it shouldn't hit you with force, and your chest should exhibit no black-and-blue marks in the following days.

Scarpulla recommends touching the bar to the lower portion of your chest, just below your nipples. This position engages your back muscles, which work as stabilizers as you lower the bar. An engaged back eases the transition between lowering and pressing the bar, negating the need to bounce it in the first place.

Click here for a detailed explanation of how to perform the Bench Press.


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