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How To Flat Bench Press With Correct Form

Great pecs look, well…Great!

My pecs are probably my favorite body part. I’ve managed to develop pecs that are exactly like I envisioned when I got started (see my pic in the footer for a good pec shot).

I didn’t get them by trying to impress other people with massive weights.

I got them by very gradually increasing weight over a period of time, never going beyond what my chest was ready for.

Like I have already said, very small weight increases work best.

Check out this demonstration video first…


(1) Like always, we want to set ourselves up to be strongest. That means grabbing the bar where it feels most comfortable to you. It shouldn’t be too wide or too narrow. Go too narrow and you’ll start to involve the triceps too much. Also, a very wide grip offers no advantage, contrary to popular opinion.

(2) Lower the bar quite slowly and under control to really recruit those chest muscle fibers.

(3) Don’t bounce the weight off your chest at the bottom of the movement. Have the bar lightly touch the chest to ensure proper form.

(4) Another tip to help you be the strongest you can be in this movement is to lower the bar to a point just below the nipples. I sometimes see people benching much higher than this. You’ll notice with experimentation that you are, once again, working against your body’s biomechanics if you are lowering to the upper chest. (This is only to be done when performing the incline bench press).

(5) Needless to say, you shouldn’t be arching your back. Make sure your upper back and butt are in constant contact with the bench, there will be a natural arch in your lower back. Also, ensure that your feet are flat on the floor.

(6) It should take about 2 seconds to lower the bar and 1-2 seconds for the drive up.

(7) Keep it simple. This is not a complicated movement. The key is to not let your ego get the better of you and push for massive weights. Whatever weight ensures that you fail in the 8-12 rep range is the right weight for you; stop being concerned about what others are benching.

(8) When you can hit 12 reps on any set, increase the load by the smallest increment available to you.

These tips should help you hit your pecs effectively and force some brand new muscle growth!

Stay Motivated!

Mark McManus

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Mark McManus
Mark McManus
Mark is now available for 1-on-1 consultations to help you take your results to the next level. Click here for more details.
Mark McManus is a trainer & author from Ireland. His work has been featured in major publications all over the world. He is the creator of the free growth-promoting workout Targeted Hypertrophy Training' (THT) and author of the NEW fat-torching system Total Six Pack Abs.
He has also created the BREAKTHROUGH arm and chest maximizer programs The Arms Blast' and 'Chest Blast' workouts.
And if you're a fan of delicious high-protein recipes to fuel your muscle growth, check out his cook book 'Buff Baking' here.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • David February 9, 2009, 11:40 pm

    Hey Mark!
    Great post! I like the way you explain us the proper form of important exercises. BTW, yes you have great pecs. I hope i can have a good body like yours one day! I’ll keep working very hard to obtain it!

    Take care, keep pumpin’ and feedin’ the correct way!

  • rick February 10, 2009, 1:31 am

    Mark, great video…i’m surprised that a wider grip does not offer better pectoral stimulation. I find that I can bench a lot more with a narrower grip and I assumed that I was cheating in some way and have recently gone to a wider grip (which makes my weights far lighter.) Any idea why this might be? Also, picked up some Truvia this week. I know you’ve been pushing this product for a while but its listed as having 3 carbs per packet. Do you know if these 3 carbs are effective carbs?

  • iRobot February 10, 2009, 2:22 am

    Great video. This exercise is one of the most over looked in regards to proper form and weight, as everyone thinks they are doing it the right way. Great instructions and video for all levels of training!

  • MrWiL February 10, 2009, 8:23 am

    Hey nice video but i had a question about benching, some people say we shouldn’t go past 90 degrees when coming down from the bench is that a myth also. I’ve heard people telling me that once we go past 90 degree and the bar’s about to touch our chest were not using the pecs anymore for the workout but mainly our arms. Can someone comment me back if this is true or not ?

  • Andrew Mast February 10, 2009, 1:40 pm


    I notices that a narrow recruits my triceps, like a push press. I do narrow grip tricep benches though. Good workout.

    MARK, your tempo is exactly what I do and I think it really works the best, flushing blood and oxygen to those muscles and helping to flush out the waste… plus once you begin to fatigue you’re able to recruit more fibers with your good form.

    My chest is already protruding because of the form and tempo you’re using.

  • Mark McManus February 10, 2009, 8:16 pm

    Thanks guys!
    @Rick. I’m not sure but whatever feels most comfortable is best for your own structure. Truvia contains erythritol, which although a sugar alcohol (carb), it has a GI rating of 0. So no impact on blood sugar.
    @MrWiL. It’s not a bad rule of thumb to look out for your forearm to be perpendicular to your upper arm, but this is only a guideline. Go for what feels best but the bar should lightly touch the chest.
    Good to hear about your results, Andrew.

  • MrWiL February 11, 2009, 2:45 am

    Thanks for the information, i really didn’t know who to listen to anymore when everyone’s telling me different things. I’m glad i found this website because it has video of actual form for almost every workout while my friends would show me but it just feels wrong and i would have to take their word for it because i’ve started to work out at the gym. This is probably my second month of working out. Also happy about to fast reply / feedback from you Mark thanks for your time !

  • rick February 11, 2009, 5:00 pm

    Mark, any chance of a tutorial video for cable seated rows? I see people doing these all different ways ad im curious to see what the optimized form looks like for this exercise

  • bruce May 15, 2009, 3:12 pm


    quick one, i felt that i can do more reps if i place my feet flat on the bench? is it a wrong posture? tqvm

  • Tom September 1, 2009, 7:28 pm

    Hi Mark,

    Quick but important question on the bench press.

    Today the instructor in the gym was helping me with this exercise.
    He pointed out two things:
    1. My grip was too narrow – I’ve tried a bit wider grip which wasn’t uncomfortable, but it supposedly impacts the chest muscles more.

    –> 2. When pushing up, I should stop just a bit before my elbows lock out. This makes it harder because the chest muscles are kinda working, there’s no small “pause” at the top. And it was harder for me, I couldn’t progress with this technique.

    Now, what do you think about the second point?
    I’ve found something like that:
    Locking the elbows out at the top of the movement makes the exercise easier, takes the pressure off the target muscles, and makes the exercise less effective. Always stop before your elbows lock out and immediately start slowly lowering the bar for the next rep.

    Your response would be greatly appreciated!