When I'm doing a regular bench press I have my shoulder blades slightly pinched together such that it raises my shoulders off the bench because I'm lying on them. I've felt like this gives me more tightness and force when lifting heavy, contributing to a stronger press.

On lighter weights and warmups I prefer to train explosively and drive the bar to the top position as powerfully as possible. More often than not, my shoulders lift off the bench due to momentum, and when this happens the pinch in my shoulder blades disappears. When I land back on the bench in a firm lockout position, my shoulders are flat across.

For the sake of consistent form, is there a way to bench explosively such that form is not compromised, or am I better off benching without my shoulders pulled back at all times?

3 Answers 3


Retract your scapula and shift it down to protect your shoulders. Drive that upper back into the bench (not your head). Place butt on bench and then place legs on ground in a position that allows you to 'push' the earth. Visualize a rubber band that's taut and ready to push that weight up after it touches your chest. Slowly lower down the bar to chest and then drive from your lower and upper body simultaneously to push that weight up in a slightly diagonal manner towards the pins. This is a powerlifting style that definitely helps push more weight.

The bodybuilding style tends to go lower weight, sometimes no leg drive (old school to add more work on the chest) and doesn't go down all the way to the chest nor does it lock out. The emphasis is time under retention and higher reps to achieve chest growth.

You're position is compromised because you're not actively maintaining good form and you're pushing hard on light weight or it's actually heavier than you can handle and you compromise your form to drive it up. Something I used when I started was taking one of those rubber bands you see in the warm up area and putting it onto the bench lengthwise so that there is a strip of rubber running down the leather cushioning of the bench lengthwise. This gives your back traction and prevents you from slipping.

Watch some form videos (Alan Thrall, Omar Isuf, scapular retraction) and get an idea of proper form, cues and common mistakes. Hopefully with time and practice you'll get a hang of it.


Upon further investigation it seems the shoulder lifting is partially a result of my head pushing back on the bench.

If I take weight off my head at the peak of the press my shoulders remain firm and tight


At the risk of not answering your specific question, I might suggest using explosive pushups, either instead of or in addition to, explosive bench press.

I'm inclined to believe it will get you the benefits that you're trying to achieve here.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.