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April 14, 2022

How to Breathe For Bench Press

How to Breathe For Bench Press with Annie Miller

Breath matters in bench press just as with any other barbell movement. The way that we breathe has an impact on the amount of weight that we can move and force we can affectively produce.

The bench press is a horizontal upper body pressing movement. It is compound, meaning multiple joints and muscle groups are at work.

Most of us will bench with an arch. That arch causes a favorable position for the shoulders, and limits the range the bar has to travel in some cases.

So do we still try to “pin the rib cage down?” – I vote yes. Intra-abdominal pressure plays a roll in bench press. Though it is not axial loaded (loading the spine), you still want full body tension. Breathing can help with that!

So, yes, we (you) can still create tension in an extended position. And considering we transfer force from the ground (feet) through out legs/glutes, to our core, and then upper body; AND we’re shooting for full body tension during bench press…YES – we take a big diaphragmatic breath, and then lock that bitch in with core tension.

I favor this breathing pattern for bench press:

Get set up (this can vary person to person, but generally speaking, you want feet grounded, glutes engaged, arched back, lats locked in (“break the bar”), and chin packed.

Big breath in this position, un-rack the weight,

1️⃣ small re-breath/lock lats in

2️⃣ brace (contracting transverse abdominis and other core muscles)

3️⃣ complete full rep (eccentric and concentric) while braced

4️⃣ quick re-breath at the top between reps.


This is pulled straight out of my Big Lift Audit ($39) where I cover bracing for all the main lifts – front and back squat, sumo and conventional deads, overhead press and bench press. Hope that was helpful. And happy benching.

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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