Tip: Squeeze-The-Bar-In Bench Press

If chest size if your goal, don't use the common spread-the-bar-apart cue. Instead, squeeze the bar in. Here's why.

When it comes to bench press technique cues, regular lifters borrow from the powerlifting community a bit too often. There's a technique to lift as much weight as possible, and there's a technique to stimulate and develop the exercise's target muscles.

Case in point: The classic bench press "spread the bar apart" cue can be especially misleading for everyday lifters. Most lifters in the gym want to hit respectable numbers in the bench press, but they're equally concerned about the bench press being an effective vehicle to trigger hypertrophy (muscle growth).

You know the "spread the bar" cue will encourage tightness through the upper back to promote a more stable press, but for lifters who have longer arms, or just prefer to use a narrower grip than most powerlifters, the spread-the-bar cue can end up detracting from your efforts.

Based on what we learned about the chest fibers' direction, it makes more sense to squeeze inwards on the bar to intensify the contraction of the pec fibers. Of course, it goes without saying that you should still keep your shoulder blades pinched back on the bench.

Oddly enough, people seem to lose their minds when applying this technique to a bench press, despite openly applying it to flyes, squeeze presses, and other max-tension pressing movements.

In truth, squeezing inwards won't kill your mind-muscle connection or your technique. If anything, it'll improve it. And, by way of traction, it'll centralize the humerus in its socket for a much smoother overall feel. If you're not a powerlifter, "squeeze in" is a cue that's definitely worth trying.