Arms Shake When Benching, What's Wrong?


Hi Blake,

I really appreciate what your doing and I find your information very helpful. I just have a question regarding the bench press.
I just started going to the gym and I am self conscience whenever I get to the bench press cause my arms shake like a leaf! Is there anything I can do to stabilize my arms when adding weight to the bench press?

Thank you,



Hi Juan.

Thanks for the question.

This is a very common problem for just about everyone who; 1) Is just beginning with weight training; Or 2) Has taken an extended hiatus from weight training and returning.

Whenever I take more than one month off from weight training and start adding weight to the barbell, my arms shake and crack.

It usually takes about 2 to 3 weeks for my body to adjust to the new weight and weight training routine. However, it may take a little longer depending on the condition of my body.

If you’re a weekend warrior who occasionally shows up to the gym for the odd workout, it might never go away. The reason is because you don’t give your body a good enough reason to adapt and get stronger in order to comfortably handle the weight.

You see, each time you show up to the gym, your body adapts to new stress levels by getting stronger or improving in some way. So, by going to the gym one day and not returning to train that same muscle for a month, it hasn’t improved. It may even be weaker.

However, based on your question, I’m guessing you’re a beginner. In that case, you may have to wait up to a couple of months for your body to fully adjust to the weight and get used to the feel of the barbell. It may take less time (two weeks to a month), depending on your workout consistency and habits.

I wouldn’t stress too much about it because the only thing that matters is that your in the gym, showing up on a consistent basis, working out hard and using good form. Believe me, all the hard core weight trainers respect this above all else.

Try thinking of this as a right of passage because it’s something everyone goes through. After a month or two, your going to get stronger and your muscles will adapt to the new stress levels and will stop shaking. Also, make sure you are well hydrated before your workouts.

Drink two 8 ounce glasses of water before you workout and have another 3 while you workout. You may be dehydrated while you are working which may explain why your “shaking like a leaf”. Better yet, have a glucose/ electrolyte drink 20 minutes before you workout.

You may also be low on potassium and sodium. Simply chug down a gatorade or powerade before you workout and follow that up with two glasses of water.

Remember to drink lots of water during your workout. After you’ve finished your workout, immeidately have a banana and some water.

I hope this helps.


Blake Bissaillion

Blake has been weight lifting for about 28 years now. He's 45 years of age and started seriously training when he was 18 years old.

Blake is the founder of, a successful fitness website that has been around for more than 15 years.