How to Fix Your Bench Press: Parte 2 -The Execution (EliteFTS series)

“How to fix your bench press” was a series of three articles originally published at the EliteFTS website. The parts were:


    1. 1. The setup
    2. 2. The execution
    3. 3. Programming and assistance work

On my website, I reproduce part of the article and the link to keep reading it at the EliteFTS site.


How to Fix Your Bench Press: The Execution

Let us just review the concept of “fixing a lift.” We decided in How to Fix Your Bench Press: The Setup that fixing included having learned the lift and having issues that make it less than optimal. We also agreed that it could include a number of approaches, but that in this series we would restrict our focus to form or technique, which includes setup (part one), execution (part two) and programing and assistance work (part three).

Part one has already been published. This is part two, in which we will review the execution issues that may need fixing and how to do that. We will then address programming and assistance work on part three.


Up to now, we haven’t even moved the bar yet; it is still sitting there on the support. Before anything happens, the bar needs to be unracked. And that, dear reader, is not trivial.

1. Unracking the Bar

If you are not a part of a powerlifting team, you may not have anyone to unrack the bar for you most of the times. Sometimes, if you are training alone, you may look around, smiling, and try to see if anyone stares back long enough with compassion so that you may approach them and ask for assistance. Frankly, chances are that you are better off alone; if he/she is not a powerlifter (and even if he is, he’s not familiar with your hand-off), he/she will most probably LIFT-off the bar for you, not HAND-it-off. There is a big difference. Remember where, in part one, I discussed that you should start and finish your lift with adducted scapulae and that the bar should be low enough in the support that you could unrack it without “disarming” your shoulder blades? Well, your assisting buddy might just ruin it all for you. Your hand firmly gripping the bar, if he LIFTS it off for you, he will lift you too and the first thing that will happen is that you will lose the scapular adduction that I insisted so much to be crucial.

If you don’t have anyone to hand-off to you, depending on your arm length, you will lose more or less of your scapular depression (there is no way not to lose it). Again, in part one I insisted that both scapular adduction and depression are crucial for a good bench press.

But it is better to lose depression by unracking it yourself than to lose everything by having someone ruin your setup.

So, if you need to do it alone, the best position to unrack the bar is with your eyes in a vertical line from the bar.

If your support is high, this is something you want to fix. Set it lower so that you won’t lose adduction. Keep your eyes under the bar so that you move your shoulders as little as possible.

And then the magic. Unrack and strongly depress your scapulae. The bar will place itself in the right position to start descent. Sometimes this alone fixes the problem; many people unrack the bar and forget to depress the scapulae (actually, the great majority doesn’t even adduct them). The moment the lifter understands the need to depress it, unracking becomes easier and the bar magically goes to the right place to start the movement: not too high, not too low.

Step 1: Place yourself in such a way that your eyes are under the bar.

Step 2: Unrack the bar without losing your scapular adduction.

Step 3: Immediately and strongly depress your scapulae.



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