Bench Press Safety

Risks associated with the bench press

There are many risks associated with the bench press if the press is not performed correctly using proper bench press technique. The most common bench press injuries involve the shoulders, chest, wrist and neck.

Read on to find out more about bench press safety and how to avoid injury when performing the bench press.

Shoulder injuries

Shoulder injuries are the most common injuries caused by performing the bench press.

Some lifters experience shoulder pain when performing the bench press. You need flexible shoulder muscles to bench press effectively without building up problems.

If you slouch your shoulders you need to build strength and control in the shoulder or else you will have a difficult time with the bench press.

Try shoulder dislocation exercises to develop good shoulder flexibility and enable a full range of movement. This will help to improve your bench press safety.


It is also important to perform the shoulder press or overhead press in order to develop full shoulder strength.

This ensures you are balancing all your muscles in this area, alongside your chest development from the bench press.

By exercising your muscles equally you will develop good muscular balance, which is always best aesthetically as well as functionally.

shoulder press

Chest injuries

Another common problem with the bench press is hurting your chest by lifting too heavy and having the bar fall down onto your chest.

Always use a spotter to help you in case you cannot press the bar back up. This way you can attempt heavier weights as you improve without the risk to your chest.

It is also important not to lower the bar to touch your chest as this can harm the chest and arms.

Bench press safety means lifting well within your weight range, using good form, and maintaining a controlled motion throughout the lift.

bench-press-rack

Wrist injuries

Ensure your wrist is straight and fixed, not bent or cocked to increase your bench press safety.

It is also important that your grip is one and a half shoulder widths wide, as this will prevent undue pressure developing in the wrist and forearm, causing pain.

A strong, firm wrist will also keep a stable motion with a decreased risk of slipping or dropping the bar.

bench press safety - wrist

Always keep a straight wrist (right), not a bent wrist (left)

Neck injuries

Neck pain can arise from too much tension in the neck during the bench press. Do not press your head into the bench but keep it rested on the bench gently.

Use your neck muscles to keep a straight neck and balanced head position. Keep looking straight up, not to the side, front or at the bar as it moves. Never twist your neck while performing the bench press.

bench press safety - neck pain

Bench press safety precautions

  • Always have a spotter ready. A spotter can help you in case you cannot press the bar back up.
  • Keep the chest out and shoulders blades pulled back. This should be your position all times when performing the bench press to maximise pressing power.
  • Press in a straight line. Keep looking at the ceiling to maintain balance in the bench press.
  • Don’t bounce the bar off your chest. You should not let the bar touch your chest at the bottom of the bench press movement. Just lower the bar so your elbows are at 90 degrees and no lower.
  • Unrack the bar with straight arms when using a rack. This means your arms are at their strongest with locked elbow. Your arms should only start to bend when you have brought the bar directly above your mid chest, ready to begin the press. However don’t lock your elbows at the end of each rep, as this can risk elbow hyper-extension. Just have a straight arm without locking out during the exercise.
  • Keep a tight grip on the bar at all times. This is important for bench press safety as it helps stabilise the bar and also prevents the bar from dropping out of your grip.

Read more about the bench press:

Introduction to the bench press

Types of bench press

Preparing for the bench press

Performing the bench press

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