Trainer Tip Tuesday: Proper Barbell Chest Press Form

The two videos below demonstrate correct and incorrect barbell chest press form.

The biggest mistake we see in the barbell chest press is the pathway the bar takes, like whether it glides back & up creating an arc pathway (correct) or is straight up & down creating a vertical pathway (incorrect). Also, engagement of the shoulder blades is a key factor when bench pressing. 

Video #1 Correct Form:

  • maintain a tight upper back by squeezing shoulder blades (retracting/pinching the shoulder blades back) which causes the back to be slightly arched (which is okay to do)
  • feet pressing into the ground during the whole movement¬†
  • movement of the barbell is a “back & up” arc/curved pathway
  • the hand grip on the bar is wider than shoulders (wider grip = more stretch and engagement of the pec muscles) but not too wide
  • the angle of the elbow is tucked to the side at a 75-degree angle


Video #2 Incorrect Form:

  • no engagement the shoulder blade causing a flat back (can cause rotator cuff tissue irritation in front of the shoulder)
  • movement of the barbell is a vertical bar path instead of an arc/curved pathway
  • vertical movement bar (incorrect already) is paired with either starting too low or too high near the neck/collar bone (both incorrect)
  • arm form shown at end of the clip is with the elbow “winged” out to the side instead of tucked at a 75-degree angle