Mark Rippetoe, author of Starting Strength and Practical Programming, answers all of your questions about how to press, including bench vs overhead press vs military press, close- vs wide-grip pressing, incline vs flat bench press, seated vs standing overhead press, and more.

In this episode, I speak with the grandfather of barbell training, Mark Rippetoe, who has given us many a great things, including books that everyone should read, Starting Strength and Practical Programming.

I’m a fan of Mark and his work, of course, because nobody has done more to promote, teach, and defend barbell training than Rip, and also because of his peppery personality, which always makes for a fun conversation.

This time around, we talk about pressing, specifically the bench and overhead press and all of their variations and subtleties.

These are two of the most effective upper body exercises you can do for gaining strength and size. It’s not a stretch to say that the stronger you get on these two exercises, the happier you’re going to be with how you look above the waist.  

There are a number of factors beyond your control that influence how well you can bench and overhead press—your limb lengths, bone structure, height, and so forth—but there are also many things that you can control, like your technique and training methods, and these are what you’re going to learn about in this podcast with Mark.

Whether you’re new to the bench and overhead press or trying to add a few more pounds to your powerlifting totals, I think you’re going to find today’s talk helpful, because we discuss a number of common questions like . . .

  • Should you do incline bench press if you’re already doing bench press?
  • Should you do wide- or close-grip bench press?
  • Should you arch your back a lot, a little, or none at all while benching?
  • Should you do seated or standing overhead press?
  • Should you do overhead or military press?

The bottom line is by the end of this interview, you’re going to know more about bench and overhead pressing than 90% of the people in your gym, including the trainers.


8:54 – What’s your take on flat bench pressing versus incline versus decline?

11:17 – What are your thoughts on incline pressing to emphasize the upper chest?

24:47 – What are your thoughts on grip width?

34:42 – How much arch should you have in your back?

40:54 – What about elbow position?

43:42 – Do you prefer seated or standing pressing?

44:43 – What about seated allowing you to lift more weight?

48:37 – Let’s talk about hip drive.

53:55 – How does a military press and strict press differ?

1:03:17 – Where can people find you online?

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What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!