In the link below, Mark Rippetoe of Starting Strength says that when positioning oneself for a bench press:


Your eyes should not be gazing directly beneath the bar, but rather looking just past the "foot side" of the bar.

Any idea what the "foot side" of the bar is? When lying on my back, should the bar be right above my eyes?


Rippetoe is trying to describe where your eyes should be looking, and that the eyes should not follow the bar. Essentially you are staring at the same point on the ceiling throughout the set.

  • When unracking the bar, the bar will be above your eyes, possibly a little more toward your hair side.
  • With arms fully locked, move the bar to it's "up" position without changing your gaze.
  • When the bar is in the "up" position, it will be in your field of view closer to your feet (foot side). It will not be directly above your eyes. Don't shift your gaze, but see it.

Each rep, the goal is to put the bar in the same place every rep. Bring the bar down to your sternum and lift back to the same position in your field of view each time.

All of this is much clearer in the Starting Strength book. If you are serious about lifting weights, I highly recommend buying the book. It is well worth it.

  • 1
    A minor correction: Before starting each repetition, when the bar is in the "up"/pressed position, pick a point on the ceiling "near" the bar, not where you were looking while unracking it. Keep your gaze on that point during the rep and return the bar to that point. Sep 6 '17 at 18:17
  • @ChristianConti-Vock, That is clearer, and closer to what I was trying to convey. Sep 6 '17 at 18:24

Yes, the bar should be roughly above your eyes. By foot side, he means you should be looking just slightly towards your feet, rather than straight up at the bar.

  • 4
    Bar above the eyes? No way! Bar above the sternum.
    – Eyal
    Mar 14 '11 at 8:18
  • @Eyal bar above the sternum when lifting, not when unracking!
    – G__
    Mar 14 '11 at 15:06

Imagine hanging a string (that is, a plumb bob) between the racked barbell and the bench itself. The "foot side" of the bench is the long (majority) portion of the bench, that is, the part closer to your feet.

Position yourself on the bench so that your eyes are not directly under the bench, but instead are perhaps one or two centimeters "down" (toward the "foot side") of the bench from the barbell.

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