I was watching a video from Strong Lift's Mehdi on bench presses, and I noticed that instead of his elbows going out he heeps them close to his body. I remember a friend telling me to do something similer to target different muscles.

So, is keeping the elbows close to the body during a bench press the correct form, or is it a modification to target different muscles?

  • 1
    When you say "going out", how far do you mean? Anything even approaching 90deg. is murder on your shoulders (and, unfortunately, commonly taught by clueless gym teachers).
    – G__
    Aug 24, 2012 at 17:09
  • @greg when i lower the bar it hits about the middle of my chest, so my upper arms do not make a 90 degree angle with my torso, if that's what you're saying.
    – DForck42
    Aug 24, 2012 at 17:12
  • Ok, that's exactly what I'm saying. I think a "standard" bench press should probably be around 45 degrees, but I can see bringing the elbows in even farther for more specific work.
    – G__
    Aug 24, 2012 at 17:14
  • 1
    could you provide us with the video link?
    – user981916
    Aug 27, 2012 at 8:20

1 Answer 1


It's correct form. If your elbows are too much out, you are risking injury of front shoulder and shoulder joint. By placing elbows closer to rib cage, triceps is taking more load (from shoulders). 45° or lower is considered safe zone.

If you want to try some of bench press modifications, you could try to place wrist much closer (putting load on triceps), using dumbells instead barebell, using decline or incline bech.

Tips about doing BP

EDIT: Just to be clear -

  • 45° and above - risk of shoulder injury
  • 45° and lower - safe zone
  • the closer the elbows to your rib cage, the more weight is on your
    triceps (if that can be seen as modification)
  • Is there a video you could reference that shows correct form?
    – Motivated
    Dec 23, 2015 at 17:12

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