I love when I hear people say they want to (insert lift).

I love when new clients come to me and say I want to get stronger.

It is my favorite. It gives me the feels that Buddy the Elf has when he sits down to his breakfast of Spaghetti with M & Ms, mini marshmallows, sprinkles, and a boat load of maple syrup!


Follow these questions to decide where is the right starting point FOR YOU!

Have you benched before?


Have you done a chest press before?


Perfect, let’s start here! If you have never performed a bench or chest press before I always will have people start with a dumbbell chest press.

Here are the reasons:

  • They need to build more strength in their chest/anterior delts/tris,
    • Many times females may need more strength to bench the actual bar (45 lbs) for reps
  • To build joint stability and kinesthetic awareness
    • Have you seen someone do a dumbbell chest press before for the first time? HELLOOOOO SPAGHETTI arms. They do not have any awareness of where their arms are in space. They also may be telling their arms to do one thing and it doesn’t happen, they do not the neuromuscular control yet. This will improve quickly with repetition.
    • The chest press will also build more should joint stability as you have to control the motion of the dumbbell to a greater degree than the bench. While there are great bar paths and subpar bar paths on the bench, there are only a certain number or paths it can take when both hands are on one object.
    • Any weakness from one arm to another will be blatant. Especially for beginners one arm may be much stronger but DO NOT FEAR, the weaker arm will catch up or at least close in on the stronger arm relatively quickly :)
  • Simply put, it is less intimidating

While you work on your chest press(see youtube for a tutorial) I also suggest a few other exercises: push ups(work on an incline and work your way down to the floor), chest flys, DB shoulder press, DB row, and Lat Pull-downs.

Have you bench before?


Have you done a chest press before?


Are you comfortable doing chest presses?
NO. (go back to the first starting point)
Yes! I am comfortable doing chest presses using 15lb or more for reps.



Benching Basics (see tutorial on youtube video below):

  • Lie on bench facing up(you never know)
  • Place feet on floor and line your eyeballs up underneath the barbell
  • Retract your scapula by squeezing your shoulder blades together
  • Unrack the bar, take a second to let the weight settle, re-tighten your shoulder blades, and make sure your feet flat on the floor
  • Bring the bar down to the highest point on your body. This will differ depending on your anatomy BUT it IS NEVER YOUR NECK OR CLAVICLE!!!! It will vary between nipple line and bottom of sternum(around the bottom of your sports bra)
  • Think about pulling the bar towards your body on the way down, YOU are IN CONTROL, do not let gravity take over :)
  • DRIVE the bar up, pushing your feet into the ground

When you are new to benching, bench for higher reps to build muscle! I suggest starting with 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps for the first month or two. Focus on making each rep PERFECT!

Even when you being your journey into benching be sure to keep the exercises above in your routine.

Next week will be for those who already bench and are looking to INCREASE their bench! It will include more detail in the set-up of a bench and how to “stay tight,” as well as variations of the bench and accessories to build your benching strength!

Meghan Scanlon