Let’s talk about the single, most technical lift there is.

Many will say it’s the Snatch.

While I agree that the Snatch is pretty complex, it’s really just jumping and shrugging.

OK, weightlifters, don’t get your panties in a bunch, it’s a joke.

However, I will argue that the Competitive Bench Press is the most complicated thing you can do with a barbell due to how much is going on at once.

Why am I writing this?

Well, because it will be fun for me.

And, people ask me about it all the time, believe it or not, so by writing this, I will not have to answer any more questions.

Now let’s examine what your body is doing during a competitive bench press starting at the ground and working up to the hands.

I’ll put 21 Things about the Bench Press in in list format because it will be easier to digest.

Lower Body:

  • Rooting your feet
  • Pushing your toes through the end of your shoes
  • Spreading the floor
  • Driving your knees out
  • Squeezing your glutes as hard as you can
  • Driving your hips up


  • Bracing your trunk
  • Driving your belly up to meet the bar on the descent (meet the bar)
  • Driving your belly up harder on the press (chase the bar)
  • Arching the back: upper & lower *upper is more important
  • Squeezing your shoulder blades as tight as you can
  • Standing up on your shoulder blades
  • Pulling your lats together


  • Locking your arms

  • Shortening the stroke

  • Stretching the bar apart

  • Twisting pinkies onto the bar

  • Controlling the bar path down

  • Pausing at the chest and not collapsing

  • Pressing the bar to lockout

Full Body:

  • Doing all of these things at the same time

  • Using Leg Drive to get the bar moving and finish

That’s a short list of   what you are trying to do on the Competitive Bench Press.

You are doing 21 things at once.


I am sure that if I think a little more I can come up with 20 more things that you are or should be doing but that’s not really necessary. I think you get the point.


elitefts, cj murphy, 21 tings, bench press, powerlifting

Sexy isn't it?



Now, let’s look at what you should be doing to maximize your bench press.

Should you be thinking about all of these things at the same time?

Hell no.

You need to pick one thing and work on it until it becomes a habit and autonomic.

When you step on the platform to compete, it should be auto pilot for you.

Just prepare, perform, prevail.

If you focus on one thing, and make it a habit, then you can move on to the next thing. This applies to all of your lifts by the way.

For beginners, I suggest that you focus on bracing first.

This is the foundation of all of your lifts. If you can’t get tight, you will never move the maximum amount of weight and that’s the goal isn’t it?

After you get the bracing down it’s not a bad idea to look at a video of your heavy sets and see what is going on, and then pick ONE thing to work on and build off the last one that you have covered.

For many, I will suggest rooting the feet into the floor and getting your lower body tighter, but I also may suggest focusing on getting the upper back locked in tight.

I am a believer that all of our power starts at the ground and we need to get this in order before moving on the extremities. That is why I suggest getting your root in order.

Again, after that, look at some video and see where you need work.

If we stay with the lower body, it may be focusing on knees out.

This is a double whammy, because it also forces your glutes to tighten and that is high on the list of “to do”.

OK, let’s assume that we get the lower body dialed in, pick one more thing from the list and work it.

I’d suggest going to the upper back before moving on to meeting/chasing the bar.  Some may disagree, and that is 100% cool.

My reasoning here is that meeting/chasing the bar is “detail” work and getting tight, and forming a solid base to press from is foundational work.

So, if we have the lower body locked, and the trunk braced, getting the upper back locked is high on our priority list.

If you can lock in the upper body, brace the trunk but your upper back collapses, you will be adding inches to your bench stroke.  This equates to pounds left on the platform not lifted.

There we have a simple guide for beginners to figure out what to do in order to build their bench, but what about the more advanced lifter?

This is where training partners and video comes in.

Let me start by saying I HATE seeing phones in the gym, they are a huge distraction, but people have different learning pathways.

Some are auditory, and some are visual. That means some can absorb knowledge by listening and some need to see it.

Even those who are auditory will learn more by seeing and therefore it is not a bad idea to film work sets.

I’d argue that you should use a cheap digital camera or a GoPro because as Isaid the phone is a distraction.  Without going off on too much of a tangent, if you are constantly on your phone filming and watching, chances are you’ll get a notification of something, a cat video, a text, whatever and it takes your focus off the training.

And if your coach is on the phone all the time, you need a new one.

If you can afford $200 shoes, a $150 belt and so forth, you can afford a $50 camera. Rant over, for now.

Anyway, back on the more advanced lifter, watch your work sets, listen to your partners and adjust accordingly.

When you decide what to work on, usually for the population we are discussing, it is going to be detail work.

Things like pinkies, or meeting the bar.

Just like the beginners, pick one thing and own it before moving on.

Think about it, if you try to make huge wholesale changes to anything, chances are it will be more difficult to bring to fruition.

Pick one thing and own it.

There you have it, 21 Things about the Bench Press.

Pick something and make your bench better.

And don’t forget about the Broads.

Broads with Quads

Our TPS Method for Powerlifting ladies just dropped a new Broads with Quads podcast available in all of the podcast places.

Give it a listen.

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