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Exercises Movements, technique & proper execution

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Old 07-11-2005, 04:01 PM   #1
Stanley Kunnathu
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I don't really like bench press because I feel like my shoulder DOMS are more injury than soreness.

Of course, blind faith in Coach prevents me from abandoning it in favour of weighted pushups and dips.

My suspicion is that my form is not optimal. I have searched the archives (keyword bench press and topic exercises). The results are that my elbows are flaring out too much and the bar is hitting my chest too high (nipple level). It seems (though not totally clear) that I should have my elbows by my side and bar should touch at sternum level. Also, the wrists should in a straight line from knuckle to elbow.

The only thing about elbows in, low touch and wrist straight is that it seems a little low on my torso.

Assuming, bench is for chest development I'd like to get some opinions about bench form. Specifically:

1)Arm angles relative to body (elbow, forearm, upper arm)

2)Grip width: narrow=triceps, wide=pecs but anything else to think about?

Larry's posts were helpful except for the position of the bar relative to torso.

All of this has to do with the "Lynne" WOD. (probably obvious:blush:)

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Old 07-11-2005, 05:57 PM   #2
Scott Kustes
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Oh, this will be a good one. Perhaps my bench form is the reason for my rotator cuff injury. I think I go arms out, nipple level as well. Can't wait for responses.
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Old 07-11-2005, 07:47 PM   #3
Kalen Meine
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Bryce Lane (who is probably lurking) has an article for craptastic benchers like myself that really helps.
Basically, tight lats, shoulders back, good arch, grounded feet, crush grip, and watch your elbows.
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Old 07-11-2005, 08:54 PM   #4
Matt Gagliardi
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I second Bryce's article as being good stuff. And I almost hate to say it...but this may be one of the very few times you could get decent feedback from a BB or one of the trainers at your gym. Bench is a pretty universal exercise, keep your eye out for someone with halfway decent form (clues would be someone not bouncing the bar off his/her chest or putting so much arch in their back that they look like they're about to snap) and ask them to critique your form.

I'm a believer in elbows more tucked than flared and a slightly arched path of travel...but that's just what feels right to me. Push from the chest/pecs, not from the shoulders.
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Old 07-12-2005, 05:40 AM   #5
Brian Hand
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The extreme example of how not to bench is the "neck press" that bodybuilding trainer Vince Gironda advocated. This style is wide grip, lower bar to collarbone, elbows under the bar. Viewed from above (spotter's eye view) your upper arms are perpendicular to your torso. The pecs are isolated, and the shoulder is internally rotated. This wide grip, elbows back style has traditionally been advocated by bodybuilders. It is a good way to make friends with an orthopod and increase your vocabulary with words like "supraspinitus tear" and "impingement."

The opposite extreme is popular with many powerlifters. The elbows are tucked close to the sides; viewed from above the upper arms are parallel to the torso. The bar is lowered to a spot low on the sternum, around nipple level. The stress on the rotator cuff is much less, and the pecs share the work with the triceps. The lats can help hold the shoulder together quite a bit.

Unless you have shoulder joints made of titanium and kevlar, you want something closer to the powerlifter version. Viewed from above, your upper arms should be somewhere between parallel and flared 45 degrees from your torso. The forearms should be just about perpendicular to the floor at the start; so the more you flare, the wider your grip, and the higher on your chest the bar should touch. The amount of flare is mainly what determines the right grip width and the right spot to lower the bar.

Even with optimal form, there are some issues with the bench press that may make it hard for some people to tolerate as the weight on the bar climbs. If it is beating up your shoulders, I'd make a substitution.
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Old 07-12-2005, 07:02 AM   #6
Mike McCloud
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I use the smith machine to do some "throw and catch" bench presses. Push it as high as possible and let go, the catch has to be controlled. The push is very explosive, I start light then work up to about 100 lbs, then back down. It seems to help.
I was taught when I bench press to go out as wide as possible, I will now have to adjust my bp.
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Old 07-12-2005, 09:23 AM   #7
Chris Forbis
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Bah, you don't need a smith machine for throw and catch bench. I usually do "clapping" bench.

Dangerous you say? Danger is my middle name.

-Chris Danger Forbis
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Old 07-12-2005, 02:48 PM   #8
Zach Nikka
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wow chris......if you ever miss that damn thing its gonna have a frickin guillotine effect on your neck....dont ever drop it :-)
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Old 07-12-2005, 07:44 PM   #9
Neill S. Occhiogrosso
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I'll add to this from personal experience. I think that having your elbows in is a "mature" bench press, just like keeping your back upright is a mature squat. The mature form of both lifts is stronger and safer in the long run, but the long run might be very long. According to Coach Glassman it can take over three years to develop a mature squat. During those three years you have to accept that it might feel unnatural, and that you could lift more weight if you sacraficed form. For me, this has been true of the bench press. I am still stronger with my elbows flared out, but I have the shoulder pain to show for it. My mature bench press is catching up.
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