How to Bench – Missing Off the Chest


How to Bench – Missing Off the Chest

In the first installment from elite powerlifter Jesse Burdick (, he talked about:

How to Bench – Missing the Lockout

In this second installment, Jesse talks about the second biggest issue facing those chasing a big bench – missing off the chest.  If you’ve been benching for a while, you have at one point or time, missed a heavy bench press off the chest.  This is typically called getting “stapled” with the weight.

Jesse says it comes down to two things:

1.  Setup issue

2.  Strength issue

How to Bench – the Setup

I go into great detail on how to setup on the bench in the Training section of Diesel here:

How to Bench Press

Jesse talks about the importance of the:

- foot position

- leg drive

- upper body position

- the arch

- shoulders back and down

- chest up – high chest position

How to Bench Press

How to Bench – the Strength

Benching requires a strong back, shoulders and triceps.

Jesse recommends:

Back Strength – some type of row (bent over rows, chest supported rows, cable rows) static holds which would include holding that end range position and focusing on pulling the shoulder blades back and down and holding with the chest up.

Tricep Strength – Jesse states that “bigger arms equals a bigger bench.”  He also talks about building tricep mass and strength with extensions and dumbbell benching.  I love hitting drop sets with elastic bands and also including close grip bench for tricep strength.

I would also like to add the importance of warming up for the bench.  This is huge for having a great session and recovering much faster.  The warm-up is really critical and should never be skipped.

Here is a perfect sequence that works every time:

Step 1:  Foam rolling / lacrosse ball workout ACROSS the chest and upper back.  Don’t forget to include movement into foam rolling.  Joe DeFranco and I go into great detail with this technique in our certification and latest DVD – Hard:CORE.  Check back soon for the new DVD system.

Step 2:  Upper back activation and shoulder mobility with any of the following; face pulls, rotator cuff Y,T,W,L, band retractions, push-up plus, or shoulder stretches.

Step 3:  A push/pull combo of any kind; horizontal or vertical.  This is going to engage the right muscles and get them firing the right way.  Focus on a controlled tempo and your breathing.  Some exercise examples include:  push-ups, light db military press, pull-ups, lat pull-downs.

Step 4:  Light worksets with the bench press.  You can just use the bar, or even just use a really controlled push-up variation.

Step 5:  Test the bench to see how it feels.  Repeat steps 1-4 as necessary until you are ready to go.

Part 1:  How to Bench Press – Missing the Lockout

Jesse Burdick:

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  • Conor

    Some pretty cool tips Jimmy….keep ‘em coming!

    • Anonymous

      You got it.

  • Sean Hyson

    Jesse is the man, but I would also think that speed work would be a big help for fixing a bench press off your chest.

    My lockout is good, my overhead press is ok, and my dips are better than ever, so I think my triceps, shoulders, and overall upper body strength is keeping pace. But my bench still sucks and I know it’s because I can’t get the bar off my chest fast. I’ve added speed work (dynamic effort bench and med ball throws, as well as various plyo pushups) and I’m already seeing some improvement.

    • Anonymous


      I definitely agree. Missing off the chest can be a technique or strength issue. The strength required is a combination of reversal strength, decelerative strength, and isometric strength.

      Thanks for commenting.