Bench Press – Should You Touch Your Chest or Only Go to 90 Degrees?

There is a good chance you've done the barbell bench press at some point. Lean, strong chest males utilize the barbell bench press to benchmark their strength and magnificence. 

They frequently push their pals, exaggerate their ability to bench 100 pounds more than they actually can, and always begin their first session of the week with a bench press.

The bench press is one of the most hotly debated exercises in the gym for various reasons. You can perform the bench press in your home gym or you can go to the gym to perform it. 

However, in the Covid-19 Pandemic we observed a high amount of purchase of Barbells for a Home Gym. We will be discussing how low you should go when bench pressing. Should bench press touch chest or 90 degrees? Let us get started.

Should you Touch the Bar to your Chest while Bench Pressing?

a man bringing the bar to the chest
a man bringing the bar to the chest

It is a straightforward question, and the answer is almost always yes. Your goal is to bring the bar to your chest. Barbell bench presses are designed to be performed with a full range of motion, and that is what you should be doing when performing one. 

Every step of the way, from top to bottom. That's right. The way you should do every workout. There will be no half reps, cheating, or anything. 

A full range of motion is all that's required. As a rule of thumb, it's best to lower the bar till it's level with your chest. Despite this, few aspects of weight training are ever as simple as many fitness experts and dumbasses on forums make it out to be, even though many do.

However, very few generalizations like “everyone should always perform things like this” and a great example of lowering the bar when bench pressing. 

Why? Because we're all different individuals. As a powerlifter, you may be required to lower the bar to your chest in the process of bench pressing if you want to compete at the highest level of the sport or if you are participating in a competition that requires you to pass an obligatory bench press test. 

In contrast, if you're just a regular gym-goer who wants to look good (grow muscle, reduce fat, whatever), touching your chest is almost always unnecessary. 

How to Properly Perform a Bench Press Exercise?

a man doing a bench press
a man doing a bench press
  1. Set up your Feet

Although the bench press isn't as significant as the squat or deadlift, your foot placement is still critical. There are various readymade platforms for deadlifts and Squats stands present in the market. 

A strong base is built on the foundation of your feet, from which you will take your strength. The ideal position is as far back toward your butt while still keeping your feet flat on the ground. 

Everyone's body shape and height will have a role in how this looks. The key is to make sure your feet are firmly planted so that your complete body can draw energy from the ground.

  1. Properly Position yourself Under the Bar

Like your foot placement, your back position will be unique to your body type and mechanics. To put it simply, you should position yourself to unrack the bar without hitting the pegs quickly. 

Keep your shoulders firm and protected by squeezing your shoulder blades together. Push your upper back into the bench like attempting to crush a grape between your shoulder blades.

  1. Arch your Back While Bench Pressing

In the world of bodybuilding, this is a very contentious issue. While many bodybuilders mistakenly believe that arching your lower back is only a powerlifting technique, it aids in the maintenance of a neutral spine and protects your back throughout the press.

If you're not a powerlifter, you can relax on the back arch. Maintain a slight arch in your lower back at all times. The bar should go as little distance as possible when you're powerlifting.

  1. Set your Grip

Take hold of the bar firmly and firmly. It's time to savage it! It's best to keep the bar in your hand as far down as possible. Your wrist will bend backward if the bar is held too tightly in your hands or fingers. Straightening the wrist gives the most potent force possible.

The sort of body you have and the goals you have set for yourself will determine the width of your grip. Longer limbs necessitate wider grips, as do powerlifters who want to lift the most weight possible. 

It is a preferable position for most of your lifting if you have shorter arms and focus on hypertrophy rep ranges, which require a narrower grip.

Exaggerated grips in either way don't bother me. Most people will hold onto the barbells by either gripping around or inside the rings. It would help if you avoided false grips at all costs. Wrap your thumb around the ring of your middle finger.

Let go of the bar by taking a big breath in, and then exhale. Lifting a heavy bar off the rack uses a lot of energy, so don't do it. As a last resort, you can push so hard into the bench that the bar comes flying off. If you’re a person that utilized a home gym, then you can buy our amazing half rack

  1. Breathe and Lower the Bar

Before you lower the bar:

  • Take a long breath in and out.
  • Please take a deep breath and use it to tighten the muscles in your abdomen.
  • Think of bending the bar into a U-shape with your hands while you do this.

To protect your shoulders, you should bend the bar such that your elbows can naturally hunker down and engage your lats.

Continue pushing while exhaling aggressively until you've passed the concentric sticking point of your press.

  1. Touch your Chest with the Bar

The length of your arms and the position will determine the bar’s location on your body. Your forearms in this bottom position should be at a 90-degree angle from the ground. If it's too much or too little, you'll lose strength.

You'll need to have longer arms and a narrower grasp to get a better grip. The bar will rest higher on your chest if you have short arms and a wide grip. 

Most people's nipple line falls somewhere in the middle of their upper abs. Regardless of where the bar strikes you, aim to hit the exact location each time.

  1. Push the Bar with your Leg Drive

As soon as the bar comes into contact with your chest, tense your glutes and drive your legs to the ground to begin the upward movement. I don't think that is cheating. To bench more weight, you must use a leg drive.

Remember to exhale ferociously via the point of stifle. Think about flinging the bar back as you press up. The bar should move in a “reverse J” or “arc” shape.

So How Lower Should the Bar Go

a woman lowering the barbell to her chest
a woman lowering the barbell to her chest

Should your bench press touch chest or 90 degrees? Suppose you're among the few individuals who train for competitive powerlifting or anything else that demands lowering the barbell until it hits your chest. In that case, you should lower the barbell until it touches your chest.

Surprising, isn't it? However, if you're like most people and want to construct a good looking chest, there are two options:

  • If dropping the bar down feels comfortable for you, continue bench pressing by touching your chest.
  • If you experience any pain, awkwardness, and discomfort when going down, I recommend pausing 1-3 inches before the bar meets your chest. It will spare your shoulders and, if anything, will help your chest growth.