Barbell Flat Chest Press - Correct Step-by-Step Technique

The horizontal barbell flat chest press is one of the basic exercises to increase chest volume. Including this exercise in routines is essential to achieving pectoral muscle hypertrophy.

The flat chest press is an exercise that should never be missing in a chest volume routine. It is considered one of the most complete and practical exercises to increase the size of the pectorals.

However, a beginner often makes several mistakes in the chest press technique. For example, they deflect loads onto the arms or poor bench position. Correcting these errors is essential to improve results in the exercise.

This article describes the correct horizontal barbell flat chest press technique step by step. Knowing this is important for beginners and advanced athletes who want to perfect their technique.

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Correct Barbell Flat Chest Press Technique

The barbell flat chest press technique has several details:

  • The bar must be lowered to touch the chest.
  • The scapulae must be brought together.
  • The abdomen must always be kept tight.
  • The buttocks and lower back must be supported when lying down.

Although it can also be done with dumbbells, the classic variant of the horizontal flat chest press is with a barbell. In this way, you can lift a greater additional weight and lower the risk of making errors in the exercise technique.

To learn the exercise and avoid injury, a beginner is recommended to start with a horizontal chest press, lying down with only the barbell with no additional weight.

The following describes the correct technique for the flat chest press:

  1. Starting position

Lying on a bench in a horizontal position, the bar is held with the hands at an opening slightly wider than the shoulders (about 55-60 cm apart). The bench should be positioned at shoulder height; the bar should be raised until the arms are fully stretched.

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  1. Chest press grip

The chest press grip should be done exclusively with the palms of the hands. The thumb should hold the bar, as shown in the figure. The bar should rest on the bottom of the palms of the hands, not too high and slightly inclined, not horizontal.

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  1. Straight down

Incorrect chest press technique the bar should come down evenly. The shoulders should be sent back so as not to divert the load towards the spine. The wrists must remain aligned with the forearms, horizontal and perpendicular to the bench.

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  1. Do not arch your back in an exaggerated way

Arching your back excessively is one of the most common barbell flat chest press technique mistakes. Some trainers recommend slightly arching the lower back by sending the rib cage up.

This can increase the range of motion. However, if you are not an experienced athlete, we recommend supporting your lower back on the bench while lying down.

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  1. Bar trajectory

When doing flat chest presses, the trajectory of the barbell should form a diagonal line. Lowering the bar perpendicular to the ground creates an additional load on the shoulder ligaments. At the low point of the movement, the bar should not bounce off the chest but brush against it.

  1. Position of the elbows and legs

Incorrect barbell flat chest press technique; elbow position is critical. Ideally, keep an angle of 70 ° between the arms and the torso. The elbows should not touch the torso or form a 90 ° angle. The wrists in this position mustn’t rotate or deviate from the bench.

  1. The high point of movement

The arms should remain fully extended at the high point of the movement. Swinging the bar when it is up can be a cause of injury. We remember that to learn the biomechanics of the flat chest press, a beginner is recommended to use a bar without weight.

  1. Make sure you have support.

Be cautious and use lateral barbell supports if you don’t have a personal trainer or gym buddy to help you. You will neither be the first nor the last to get caught with the bar while doing chest presses. This is dangerous because it can cause permanent damage to the rib cage.

How to breathe when doing a barbell flat chest press?

When doing flat chest barbell presses, you should breathe as follows: inhaling as you grasp the bar and exhaling as you push it. Air-filled lungs ensure better performance when performing this exercise.

In fact, in a correct barbell chest press technique, the breath must always accompany the horizontal movement.

You must breathe in the air in the lower part of the movement. Taking a breath at this point will help you lift the bar with more force. At the high end of the action, you must empty the air. This is an excellent strategy to finish the last rep of the exercise sets.

Benefits of exercise

The flat chest press is considered one of the basic multi-joint exercises . Doing flat chest presses with the correct technique will allow you to not only increase chest volume but also increase the strength of your upper body joints.

It is a crucial exercise to work the upper body of the body, as well as to widen the rib cage. The benefits of the flat chest press are:

  • Increase the volume of the pecs
  • Expand the rib cage
  • Improve upper body muscle strength
  • Eliminate weak and flabby pecs


The flat chest bench press is one of the best exercises to work your pecs. Although the pectoral muscles are mainly worked, it also works to exercise the arms’ middle zone and powers.

Correct bench press technique assumes feet are flat on the floor, shoulder blades together, chest up, and back should be slightly curved.

The trajectory of the bar should be not perfectly horizontal but diagonal. At the lowest point, the bar should touch the middle of the chest without bouncing off it.

How to breathe when doing chest press? Simple: inhaling when lowering the bar and exhaling when raising it. Completely emptying the air from the lungs is ideal for achieving the last rep.

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