Should I Pause at the Bottom of Bench Press? (Solved!)

So, you want to know whether you should pause at the bottom of your bench press.

To be honest, there are two schools of thought here.

Some people will tell you that you must pause at the bottom, whereas others will say that you’re wasting your time by doing so.

So, I can certainly understand why you might be confused about the right way to go about your bench press.

In truth, there are benefits to both paused and touch-and-go bench press, and I’ll discuss these in more detail now.

Should I Pause at the Bottom of Bench Press?

Pausing at the bottom of bench press is the best way to improve strength. Plus, your pecs are most activated at the bottom of the bench press. Therefore, if you struggle to get the bar away from your chest, this points to a weakness in your pecs. So, utilising a pause will help you to get stronger and eventually bench press more weight.

1. Paused Bench Press is Better For Strength

Firstly, I will say that whether you should pause at the bottom of the bench press or not is a matter of personal preference.

And for me, my personal preference is a resounding YES.

My reasoning behind this is that I only ever bench press for strength purposes.

Basically, I bench press in order to get stronger at the movement, and hopefully increase the weight I’m benching on a regular basis.

Sore Today Strong Tomorrow

So, when it comes to aesthetics I would typically focus more on other chest-related exercises.

Some of my favourites include incline dumbbell chest press, dips, push ups, and standing cable variations.

This is not to say that you can’t produce an aesthetically-pleasing set of pecs from bench press alone, but I much prefer it as a strength movement.

If you are also looking to regularly lift more weight when you bench press then I suggest that you add a pause at the bottom.

The pecs are most activated at the bottom of the bench press, so they are working their hardest when you need to push the barbell away from your chest.

RELATED===>Why Do I Get Stuck at the Bottom of My Bench Press?

Plus, if you find that getting the barbell away from your chest is a struggle, this points to a potential weakness in the pecs.

It’s also interesting to note that during a powerlifting meet, competitors must pause at the bottom of the bench press before pressing and straightening their arms.

And powerlifters are some of the strongest bench pressers you’re ever likely to meet.

2. Touch-and-Go Bench Press is Better For Volume

The “touch-and-go” bench press is what the vast majority of lifters do in the gym environment.

As the name implies, you lower the bar until it lightly touches your chest and then immediately press it straight back up.

There’s nothing wrong with the touch-and-go bench, and it certainly allows you to get much more volume.

However, in truth, getting more volume is often nothing more than an ego trip (sorry).

With that being said, more volume can also be attributed to those who are benching more than once a week.

Your aim is to increase and improve your bench press as quickly as possible, so you specialize the lift for a few weeks.

In effect, you could be training bench press 3-4 times a week.

This is where the touch-and-go bench can be an advantage, as it is far less taxing on the Central Nervous System than the paused bench press.

Nevertheless, additional volume doesn’t always translate to increased and improved strength.

So, it really comes down to why you’re bench pressing in the first place.

You will always achieve better pec and shoulder strength development through the paused bench press.

But, you will always achieve more volume with the touch-and-go bench press.

It is estimated that most of us should be able to lift 5-10% more weight when using touch-and-go.

However, it’s important to remember that as your pecs are mainly activated at the bottom, you may not be doing much to improve your strength by using touch-and-go.

To make matters worse, touch-and-go can often be used to “cheat” the bench press.

Essentially, the bar is literally bounced off the chest and you end up using momentum to get the bar back up.

Obviously, “bouncing” has many dangers of its own, and if you don’t have proper control over the descent, you could end up injuring yourself.

Furthermore, the use of momentum should generally be avoided when lifting weights anyway.

You’re really not getting the best out of an exercise if you’re using momentum.

So, if you do prefer the touch-and-go bench, ensure that you have full control of the bar at all times, and only lightly brush your chest at the bottom.

3. Mix Up Your Bench Press Training

Personally, I don’t believe one you should choose method or the other, but this does of course also depend on your training goals.

But, variety is definitely the spice of life, so I see no reason not to regularly perform both versions of the bench press.

After all, most of us want to get stronger and bigger.

So, the best way to achieve this is to focus on both strength training and hypertrophy training.

But, there’s more to this.

Additionally, I also think it’s a great idea to throw some power training into the mix.

This would typically involve benching with a much lighter weight, but at a much faster pace.

Plus, by learning to control the descent and then quickly powering a bar off your chest, you can certainly improve any weakness at getting the bar off the chest.

In fact, this is generally where most people fail or stall on the bench press.

Basically, they don’t have the necessary strength (as they fatigue) to press the bar away from them.

Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to work all three training protocols, i.e. strength, hypertrophy, and power.

Why I Mostly Pause Bench

Final Thoughts

So, I hope you understand that whether you should pause at the bottom of the bench press is a matter of personal preference.

With that being said, I believe that you should pause when benching.

This is mainly due to the fact that I mainly bench press to increase both strength and the amount of weight that I am lifting.

Furthermore, the pecs are most activated at the bottom, and if you struggle to get the bar away from your chest, this points to a potential weakness.

Therefore, to work on your weakness it makes a lot of sense to increase activation of the pecs.

And this is obviously best achieved by pausing at the bottom.

You can also use the touch-and-go bench press, and this will definitely allow you to increase volume.

Additionally, you should also train for power by using a faster pace, but lighter weights.

You will always achieve the best results if you can regularly train strength, hypertrophy, and power.

READ ME NEXT===>Can You Really Increase Your Bench Press By 51lbs in Just 3 Weeks?

Leave a Comment