• North Shore Barbell

Be Less S**t | The Competition Bench Press


If you came here looking for elaborate technique suggestions or exercises to enhance your arch, you've come to the wrong place. Whilst changing your technique can often lead to serious gains, it's impossible to provide a "one size fits all" approach, as a number of anatomical variables play into finding the best technique fit for an individual. What we're focussed on is maximising your competition bench press numbers.


Bench pressing is pretty simple but we often see good lifters fall short of their potential in competition due to ill-preparedness, sometimes leaking in excess of 10kg's vs their best in the gym.


This article is designed to address some basic failures we see in competition that can be helped by small tweaks to your training.


Hold the Weight


In competition, there are 3 things that will happen before you can start the lift:


  • The weight is lifted out either by yourself or by the center spotter

  • You have to wait for at least one of the side judges to indicate to the head judge that the lifter's feet are flat and their buttocks are touching the bench (Among other things).

  • The head judge gives you the start command provided elbows are locked and the head is down

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this 3-step process takes around 3-5 seconds to complete. That's 3-5 seconds where you're likely holding near your 1 rep max above your face. A max attempt is hard enough at the best of times so when you're training at the gym, doing single lifts or top sets make sure you hold the weight for a few seconds before starting.


Holding the weight for a reasonable period before your top set of bench press, or top training single can be useful for preparing you for competition conditions.


Holding the weight in before starting the eccentric part of the movement in training can help prepare you for competition.


Wear Appropriate Footwear


In the IPF and its affiliates, you are required to have your feet flat to the floor during the bench press.


Now that's out of our system, a common cause of a lifter bombing from the competition, or an otherwise good lifter falling short of their potential is the shoes they choose to wear. The rules require a lifter to have their feet "as flat as the shoe will allow". The problem with that is, however, that some kinds of shoes will make it look like the lifter's feet aren't flat OR make it even more obvious that the feet aren't flat.


Chuck Taylors are notoriously bad for this (at least in the NZPF lifting scene). They may feel good due to their rubber sole but they're certainly one to avoid in our humble opinion.


Here's some good bench pressing footwear:



Please note: We've seen lifters fail to get their feet flat in a wide array of footwear. Before competing, film yourself from the side and be honest as to whether your feet look flat.