The Spoto Press: How This Unique Bench Press Variation Can Boost Your Bench

The Spoto Press: How This Unique Bench Press Variation Can Boost Your Bench

Nov 13, 2023

The Spoto Press ripl fitness

The Spoto Press: How This Unique Bench Press Variation Can Boost Your Bench

The Spoto press is one of the most effective bench press variations for dramatically improving your raw bench press performance.

Developed by legendary powerlifter Eric Spoto, this unique press forces you to stabilize and control heavy weights even when you’re not actively lifting them.

If you want to build muscle and strength to press more weight, the Spoto press is one bench press variation every lifter should try.

Read on to learn how to perform the Spoto press correctly and get all the bench boosting benefits that will transfer to your competition bench.

What is the Spoto Press?

The Spoto press is essentially a bench press where you pause for a second or two just an inch or two off your chest, with the barbell levitating over your chest in open air. It's like a board press without the board!

By pausing and stabilizing the weight when it's not touching anything, the Spoto press forces your muscles and nervous system to work incredibly hard to keep the barbell perfectly still.

You have to generate an immense amount of force to get the bar moving again from a dead stop.

This bench press variation helps build tremendous starting strength and teaches you to keep everything super tight.

The slightest loss of tightness or tension would cause the barbell to come crashing down.

Why The Spoto Press is So Effective ripl fitness

Why The Spoto Press is So Effective

Here's why powerlifters and bench pressers of all kinds should incorporate the Spoto press into their training programs:

  • Builds starting strength: Having to pause and stabilize hundreds of pounds directly over your chest taxes all your pressing muscles to their limit. This builds tremendous explosive strength so you can blast through sticking points right off your chest.

  • Improves stability and technique: Keeping the bar perfectly still in midair requires incredible technique, total body tension, and perfect equal weight distribution. Mastering the Spoto press forces improvements here.

  • Fixes weak points: Many lifters fail benches because they lack power off the chest. The Spoto press is amazing for developing strength through this troublesome range of motion.

  • Transfers to competition bench: Performing 2-5 heavy Spoto press reps will directly strengthen your standard bench press technique so you can lift more weight for 1-3 reps in meets.

  • Develops control: Having to pause and stabilize hundreds of pounds commands complete control over the weight at all times. This control will directly carry over to your regular bench press numbers.

For all these reasons, powerlifters who must press from the chest in competition can gain a lot by incorporating the Spoto press into their programs.

Let's look closer at proper technique.

Helping My Client A wide shot of a personal trainer and his client wearing sports clothing in a gym on a winter's day. His client uses a wheelchair and has a Continuous Glucose Monitor on his arm. The client is doing chest presses on a weight bench while his trainer gives him guidance and motivation. bench press spotter stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

How To Perform The Spoto Press:

Here is a step-by-step guide to properly performing the Spoto press:

  1. Set up for bench press as normal on a flat bench. Use a powerlifting style setup with your feet firmly on the ground. Get tight.
  2. Unrack the barbell and slowly lower it down to your chest under control.
  3. Pause briefly on your chest, then press the bar back up.
  4. Stop the barbell 1-2 inches off your chest at about the bottom portion of the bench press range of motion.
  5. Pause for a second or two with the barbell levitating over your chest in open air. Keep everything tight.
  6. After the pause, lower the bar back to your chest slowly under control.
  7. Press the weight back up to lockout. This is 1 rep.
  8. Be sure to use heavy enough weight to perform around 2-5 reps with excellent technique. The bar should feel extremely heavy hovering over your chest.
  9. Do NOT bounce the bar off your chest. Each rep must start from a dead stop with the bar touching your torso.
  10. Do NOT lose tightness during the pause. The slightest lack of tension will cause you to lose control of the weight.
  11. Keep your elbows tucked at least halfway through the press as Spoto recommends. Flaring too early is a cause of shoulder pain.
  12. Focus on using pure pressing strength to push the weight up after the pause. No leg drive during the pause.

Follow these technique guidelines to get the most out of every rep and ensure you get the benefits that will transfer over to your standard flat bench press.

Spoto Press vs Regular Bench Press ripl fitness

Spoto Press vs Regular Bench Press

While the Spoto press resembles a regular flat bench press, some key differences make it much more difficult:

  • You must pause and stabilize hundreds of pounds in open air just off your chest instead of bouncing the bar off your torso. This requires tremendous starting power.

  • The pause eliminates all elasticity and stretch reflex out of the bottom. You must generate all power from a dead stop using pure pressing strength.

  • There is zero margin for error. Any lack of tightness or control means failing the lift. This forces excellent technique.

  • You need incredible triceps and shoulder strength to press the bar from a dead stop 1-2 inches off your chest. This strengthens the bottom portion of the bench press.

  • More muscles are under constant tension because you must stabilize the weight instead of resting it on your chest between reps. Greater time under tension builds more muscle.

In short, the Spoto press allows you to overload the bottom portion of the bench press while forcing rock solid technique.

This builds overall pressing power better than regular benching.

spoto Muscles Worked ripl fitness

Muscles Worked

The Spoto press heavily targets all the main pressing muscles:

  • Chest: Pauses force the pecs to contract isometrically against the heavy load.

  • Front delts: Must stabilize weight overhead to avoid dumping it. Builds tremendous starting delt strength.

  • Triceps: Primary movers that provide majority of lockout pressing force after the pause.

  • Lats: Act as stabilizers to keep the back and core tight. Crucial for transfer of power.

  • Upper back: Traps, rear delts and rhomboids get pumped stabilizing the barbell and shoulders.

So while the Spoto press is an advanced bench press technique, it works all the same muscles through a challenging partial range of motion.

This allows heavier overload in the most difficult part of the bench press.

Tips To Improve Your Spoto Press ripl fitness

Tips To Improve Your Spoto Press

Here are some tips to help you perform the Spoto press correctly and get the most out of it:

  • Use a weight that you can only properly stabilize and press for about 3 reps. Work up to find this 3RM load.

  • Experiment with pausing at different heights - try 1 inch, 2 inches, even 3 inches off the chest. The lower you pause, the harder it is.

  • Do NOT sacrifice your elbow position or arch just to lift more weight. Keep perfect technique.

  • Squeeze the barbell hard to engage your lats before lowering the weight to your chest. This helps stabilize the descent.

  • Use wrist wraps if needed to keep your wrists in a stronger neutral position under heavy loads.

  • Focus on spreading the bar apart as you press it off your chest to activate more pec fibers.

  • Film your sets. If the bar drifted or dipped at all during a pause, lower the weight. Lift only weights you can perfectly stabilize.

  • Perform Spoto press as the main movement in your bench press workout after thoroughly warming up your shoulders.

Mastering the Spoto press does require some practice and dialing in proper technique.

But once you get the hang of it, your bench press will quickly start moving up!

Sample Spoto Press Workout ripl fitness

Sample Spoto Press Workout

Here is a sample bench press workout for incorporating the Spoto press:

Warm Up:

  • 5 minutes on rowing machine
  • Band dislocations: 2x10
  • Dumbbell bench press: 3x12
  • Push ups: 2x10

Work Sets:

  • Spoto Press: Work up to 3RM weight, then perform 2x3 reps with 3-5 minutes rest between sets


  • Incline dumbbell press: 3x10
  • Triceps pushdowns: 3x12
  • Cable flys: 2x15

Aim to perform 2-4 work sets of 2-5 reps of Spoto press after warming up. This intense exercise doesn't require much volume.

Follow up with higher rep accessory work for your triceps, chest and shoulders.

Spoto Press Variations ripl fitness

Spoto Press Variations

Here are some variations of the Spoto press technique you can try:

  • 1.5 Reps: Perform each rep with two pauses - pause on chest, pause off chest, lower to chest, press up. Killer!

  • Clusters: Do multiple singles with 10-20 sec rest between reps. Allows very heavy weights.

  • Different grip widths: Use closer or wider grips to target the pecs and triceps differently.

  • Suspended: Perform Spoto press holding the barbell over chest without touching the torso. Extreme!

  • Resistance bands: Loop bands over the barbell to provide constant tension and a heavier load.

  • Chains: Adding chains provides accommodating resistance as you press the barbell up and deload it on the descent.

  • Tempo lifts: Use a slow eccentric and pause on chest before pressing to maximize time under tension.

The options are endless for putting your own twist on the basic Spoto press technique. Get creative!

The more ways you shock your muscles, the more growth and strength you’ll build.

Spoto Press Mistakes To Avoid ripl fitness

Spoto Press Mistakes To Avoid

While the Spoto press is extremely effective when performed properly, it's easy to make these common mistakes:

  • Touching the chest with the barbell during the pause. This eliminates the challenge.

  • Allowing the bar to drift or dip during the pause instead of keeping it perfectly still.

  • Bouncing the bar off the chest instead of coming to a complete stop.
  • Letting the elbows flare too early on the press.

  • Not using enough weight to feel challenged - shoot for weights in the 3 rep max range.

  • Sacrificing tightness and muscle tension. The bar will come crashing down.

  • Holding breath instead of breathing between reps - use the valsalva maneuver correctly.

  • Not using 100% pure pressing strength. No leg drive during the press portion.

Avoid these form errors and keep your technique strict.

Lift only weights you can properly handle and stabilize to get the full benefits.

Record your sets to monitor any issues creeping up.

Who Can Benefit From Spoto Press? ripl fitness

Who Can Benefit From Spoto Press?

This challenging bench press variation offers benefits for all levels of lifters:

  • Beginners: Builds tremendous starting pressing power and reinforces solid technique.

  • Powerlifters: Fixes weaknesses off the chest and transfers to bigger competition benches.

  • Bodybuilders: Overloads the pecs through a limited range of motion. Maximizes time under tension.

  • Athletes: Develops shoulder stability and control. Transfers to better sports performance.

  • CrossFit: Builds upper body pushing power from a dead stop. Useful for barbell cycling in workouts.

So whether you enjoy powerlifting, bodybuilding or CrossFit style training, adding the Spoto press can quickly improve your bench press.

The Spoto Press ripl fitness

The Spoto Press - Conclusion

The Spoto press is a bench press variation that forces you to pause and stabilize very heavy weights a few inches off the chest.

This trains tremendous starting strength by overloading the bottom portion of the bench press where many lifters struggle.

Pausing hundreds of pounds in mid-air also reinforces perfect technique and body tightness.

By performing 2-5 reps of Spoto press in the 3 rep max range, you can strengthen your regular flat bench press and fix weaknesses off the chest.

This allows more weight to be pressed through a full range of motion.

Use this bench press method named after legendary powerlifter Eric Spoto to build more muscle and blast through plateaus.

Incorporate Spoto press into your training and watch your pressing power skyrocket!

Frequently Asked Questions About The Spoto Press

What is the Spoto Press?

The Spoto Press is a bench press variation named after Eric Spoto, a renowned powerlifter known for his exceptional bench press performance.

It is a unique variation that focuses on staying tight and controlling the barbell's descent to strengthen weak points in the standard bench press.

How does the Spoto Press differ from the standard bench press?

The Spoto Press is one of the bench press variations that emphasize staying tight and resist the urge to bounce the bar off the chest.

It requires lifters to lower the barbell with control and effectively press it back, engaging more muscles and stabilizing the weight.

Why is the Spoto Press considered beneficial for bench press performance?

The Spoto Press is a great exercise for lifters who want to bench press more weight.

By focusing on maintaining tightness, resisting the urge to bounce the bar off the chest, and working on weak points in standard bench press, it can boost overall bench press performance.

How can the Spoto Press help in targeting weak points in the standard bench press?

The Spoto Press places emphasis on resistance and stabilizing the weight during the exercise.

By doing so, it effectively works on strengthening weak points in the standard bench press, helping lifters overcome plateaus and improve their performance.

What are some tips for performing the Spoto Press effectively?

Eric Spoto recommends keeping your elbows in and not letting the weight "levitate." It's important to effectively press it back and remain tight throughout the movement.

These tips can help maximize the benefits of the Spoto Press and prevent injury.

Can the Spoto Press be used for hypertrophy training?

Yes, the Spoto Press is not limited to powerlifting.

It can also be incorporated into hypertrophy training to target specific muscles and contribute to overall strength and muscle development.

How does the Spoto Press contribute to overall bench press strength?

The Spoto Press focuses on engaging muscles and the nervous system more effectively, contributing to improved overall bench press strength.

By working on weak points and promoting control over the barbell, it can lead to better bench press performance.

Can beginners use the Spoto Press?

While the Spoto Press requires proper form and control, beginners can benefit from incorporating it into their training routine.

It's important to start with lighter weights and focus on mastering the technique before progressing to heavier loads.

Is the Spoto Press recommended for individuals with weak points in the standard bench press?

Absolutely. The Spoto Press is a beneficial exercise for individuals looking to address weak points in the standard bench press.

Its focus on control, resistance, and stability can help improve performance and overcome specific challenges in bench press movements.

How does the Spoto Press benefit experienced lifters and powerlifters?

For experienced lifters and powerlifters, the Spoto Press offers a unique variation to challenge their strength and technique.

By incorporating this method, they can refine their bench press form, target weak points, and potentially break through plateaus in their performance.

Is Spoto Press harder than bench press?

Yes, the Spoto press is generally considered harder and more challenging than a regular bench press.

Having to pause and stabilize a heavy weight without touching anything taxes the muscles much more than a regular bench press where you can bounce the bar off your chest.

The Spoto press eliminates all elasticity and forces you to generate power from a dead stop using pure pressing strength.

This makes it significantly harder for most lifters.

Who invented the Spoto Press?

The Spoto press was invented and popularized by elite American powerlifter Eric Spoto.

Spoto is considered one of the greatest bench pressers of all time, having set the all-time world record raw bench press of 722 lbs in competition.

He credits the Spoto press as one of his favorite training methods for building tremendous starting strength off the chest.

How good is Spoto Press?

The Spoto press is an extremely effective exercise for improving raw bench press strength.

Having to stabilize heavy weights overhead forces the muscles to contract much harder than during a regular bench press.

This builds tremendous explosive power out of the bottom portion of the lift.

The Spoto press also reinforces perfect technique which carries over to the full range of motion bench press.

For these reasons, powerlifters report great success using Spoto press to increase their max bench.

What muscles does Spoto Press work?

The Spoto press works all the main pressing muscles: chest, front delts, triceps, upper back, and lats.

It provides focused overload through the most difficult portion of the bench press range of motion.

Pausing just off the chest forces tremendous contraction of the chest, shoulders and triceps to hold the weight steady and press it up from a dead stop.

How heavy is the Spoto Press?

To get full benefits, the Spoto press is performed for sets of 2-5 reps using about 75%-90% of your regular bench press 1 rep max.

Most lifters find their 3 rep max range provides an ideal challenge - enough weight to be very difficult to stabilize and press, but not so heavy that form breaks down.

So while weights are not as heavy as a 1RM, it will feel extremely challenging due to having to pause and press from a dead stop.

Do you pause the Spoto Press?

Yes, the defining feature of the Spoto press is pausing for 1-2 seconds with the barbell hovering 1-2 inches off the chest.

You must keep the bar perfectly still during this pause without letting it drift or dip at all. This taxes the muscles tremendously and teaches stability under heavy loads.

Where do you pause on a Spoto Press?

On the Spoto press, you pause when the barbell is 1-2 inches off the chest, right at the very bottom portion of the bench press range of motion.

This focuses overload on the part of the lift many strugglers with, since you have to generate power from a dead stop after the pause.

Pausing lower down is more challenging than pausing higher up.

Why is it called Spoto Press?

The exercise is named after elite American powerlifter Eric Spoto, who popularized the technique and set the all-time world record raw bench press of 722 lbs.

Spoto credits the lift as one of his favorites for building tremendous explosive strength off the chest when raw bench pressing in powerlifting competitions.

Bench Press Variations - Keeping It Spicy ripl fitness

From the Perspective of a Personal Trainer

Eric Spoto - The Man, The Myth, The Bench Press Legend

Ah, Eric Spoto, the benchers of all time and an arm wrestling champion to boot!

This guy knew a thing or two about pressing some serious weight.

And let me tell you, his invention, the Spoto Press, is one exercise that will have you get tight or go home!

Bench Press Variations - Keeping It Spicy

Look, we all love the standard bench press. It's a classic, like a fine wine or a well-aged cheese.

But sometimes, you need to shake things up a bit, you know?

That's where bench press variations like the Spoto Press come in. It's like adding some spicy salsa to your boring old chips - it'll wake you up and keep you coming back for more!

Board Press? Nah, We're Going Weightlifting Levitation Here! soto press ripl fitness

Board Press? Nah, We're Going Weightlifting Levitation Here!

You've heard of a board press, right?

Well, press is not a half-press with the Spoto Press.

Nope, we're taking it to the next level.

Imagine this: the weight is levitating, just inches from your chest, and your muscles and nervous system must work overtime to keep it from crashing down.

It's like a magic trick, but instead of pulling a rabbit out of a hat, you're lifting a barbell with sheer willpower!

Get Tight or Get Left Behind

Listen up, my friends, because tightness is a loss of tension away from disaster.

When you're doing the Spoto Press, you better get tight and stay tight, or that barbell will come crashing down faster than a house of cards in a tornado.

Trust me, you don't want to be the bench presser who loses control and ends up with a weight slowly lowered onto their chest in a controlled manner.

That's just embarrassing.

Lift More Weight, Become a Superhero

Alright, let's get down to brass tacks.

The Spoto Press is one exercise that will help you lift more weight on the standard bench press performance. How, you ask?

By developing incredible pressing strength from the bottom of the bench, where many lifters struggle.

It's like giving your triceps a superhero serum, allowing them to blast through that all-time world record bench press you've been dreaming of.

Use This Method, Become a Lifting Demigod soto press ripl fitness

Use This Method, Become a Lifting Demigod

So, here's the deal: if you want to be a lifting demigod, you need to use this method.

Perform the Spoto Press with much weight, aiming for around 2 to 5 reps at a challenging load.

As you lower the weight slowly in a controlled manner, you'll feel the burn in your muscles as they work to the point of failure. But push through, my friends, because on the other side lies glory, fame, and biceps that could crush a small planet.

In all seriousness, the Spoto Press is a great exercise that can benefit any lifter, from beginners to seasoned veterans.

By focusing on control, stability, and overloading the bottom portion of the bench press movement, it can help you break through plateaus and take your lifting game to new heights.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab a barbell, get tight, and let's get to work!