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Chest Workout (1) – Barbell Bench Press

October 29th, 2007 · 15 Comments ·


The chest is considered one of the muscles many guys want to show off. Probably chest muscle (pectoralis) gives the look of strength and solidity. Therefore, it is common too see benches at the gym are always occupied with people doing bench pressing. However, many have got this common chest workout done wrong.

So, how to do a proper barbell bench press?



  1. Lie down on a flat bench with feet flat on the floor.
  2. Grip the bar about 3 – 4 inches wider than shoulder width and space your hands evenly using the markings on the bar.
  3. Lift the bar off the rack to a point directly above your shoulder joints.
  4. Lower the bar to the center of your chest (some call it nipple line) with your upper arms moving directly out to the sides. Touch your chest lightly (not resting at your chest).
  5. Press the bar up to the starting position. Do not lock your elbows at the top.
  6. You should inhale as you are lowering the bar and exhale as you are pressing up.
  7. Do 8 to 12 repetitions with 2 to 3 sets.



  • The entire motion should be done in a smooth, controlled manner that with the downward movement no faster than the upward.
  • Keep your wrists straight. Do not twist them. I learn my lesson by hurting my right wrist. Check out this post – How To Prevent Wrist Pain From Weight Training .
  • I used to put my feet on the bench thinking it will help stopping myself from arching my back. Instructor at Clark Hatch advised me to put the feet back to the floor. Reason? You can draw power by pushing from that base (your feet). However, if you are more comfortable to put your feet at the end of the bench, by all means, do it. Nothing wrong with that.
  • Do not let the bar rest on your chest and do not bounce the bar off from your chest.
  • Always keep your buttocks on the bench.
  • For starter, get a spotter to help for safety reason.


  • When I first started train my chest, I used only machines, including the smith machine. Later, I tried the barbell bench press without any weight for the first two weeks to ensure I get the posture correct. So, stay with light to moderate weights until you have mastered all these techniques. It is more productive to use moderate weights with perfect form than heavy weights with sloppy form. Remember, we are going to gym to build strength and not to show off strength.
  • A wide grip will focus on the chest. A narrow, shoulder width grip will focus more on the triceps.

Once you are comfortable with barbell bench press, the next one you should try should be dumbbell bench press.  Check out the article – Dumbbell Bench Press.



Category: Chest

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15 responses so far ↓
  • Angie Tan // Oct 30, 2007 at 2:12 PM

    Oooo.. I’m using the machine to help me to strengthen some of my chest muscles. Although I’m a gal but I have my trainer to help spot for me.

    BTW, must remember to align the bar with your nipples. :P

  • Mun // Oct 30, 2007 at 8:48 PM

    Hi Angie – Yes, that’s right. Thanks for pointing that out.

  • aw // Oct 31, 2007 at 12:25 AM

    Angie: Please don’t do that.. I think it would drive guys crazy especially if a hot girl was aligning the bar to their nipples. I might drop weights on myself or something.

    By the way, how do women with fortuitous bosoms lower get a full range of motion? :D

  • Angie Tan // Oct 31, 2007 at 11:40 AM

    LOL!!! No idea. So far, I’ve not seen any gals hanging around the weight area – too much testosterone in the air…

    BTW, we’re using arms.. not bosoms…..

  • surfnux // Oct 31, 2007 at 12:33 PM

    Tried it out yesterday with a friend, I felt nicer doing bench press. Previously I only use machinese, but with Bench Press, it feels you use more power.

    When starting out with light weight, my hand tend to shiver and unbalanced at times. Any tips for that?

    From my 3 sets that I tried, it seems like controlling the motion slowly and no rush will help. Is this right?

  • Mun // Oct 31, 2007 at 1:29 PM

    Hi surfnux – Good to know that you have tried barbell bench press. That is quite normal if you find it hard to stabilize the bar initially. Take some time to master it.

  • cicada // Nov 4, 2007 at 1:51 PM

    you need a stronger triceps to lift more weight on that as well, once ur triceps are strong enough it’s more easier to stabilize n add more weight,
    but dont rush cause it’s a workout involving lot of muscle, take ur time

  • iamyuanwu // Mar 17, 2008 at 2:45 AM

    I’m curious, can I do the upward movement fast then downward movement slow?

  • Mun // Jun 7, 2008 at 5:41 PM

    To iamyuanwu: Yes, definitely. In fact, it is recommended.

  • saleem // Oct 26, 2008 at 2:13 AM

    what excercises can u recommend to work on the middle line of the chest. If u have a big gap between your chest, what can u do to get a tight chest.

  • renato M. Cruz Jr. // Mar 5, 2009 at 2:46 PM

    how to build muscle fast? the right program for chest, back,triceps,biceps and shoulder?how often do i workout?

  • xavier // May 12, 2009 at 4:28 PM

    mun, just to add some info into your comment earlier on. it is better for you to rest your feet on the floor and not on the bench because if you are resting your feet on the floor you are not gonna use and of your core muscle when you are doing the upward or downward motion. this way you can push more weights off your chest and actually gained better muscle built.

    and if you are to rest your feet on the bench, you are working out your core muscle too. it is still ok with lower weight but as you do heavier weight you’ll realized that is hard for you to concentrate on the weight on your chest as you are struggling to balanced yourself out and not roll off from the chair.

    in conclusion, which one your prefer? pure chest muscle workout or chest muscle workout plus core strengthening? for me it would be the first choice, if not why would i be lying there on the bench screaming like a girl pushing the weights upward, right? :)

  • Mun // May 12, 2009 at 5:25 PM

    To xavier: Good one, you are right. It is harder to stabilize when you are loading more weights with feet on the bench.

  • andysalim26 // May 25, 2010 at 8:52 PM

    Which is the better workout?
    use the barbell bench press?or use the dumbbell bench press?or with the machine bench press?
    Thanks before for your information about this information.

  • Jon // Jun 5, 2011 at 12:38 AM

    i’ve been bodybuilding for 2 years, im nearly 16. how close would my hands need to be on the barbell to achieve stimulation of the MIDDLE of the chest (bit that shows when you wear a vest. it seems to be one of my only weakpoints atm :L
    Regards, Jon

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