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View Full Version : How do you use your back when you bench press?



LionLord
12-03-2008, 08:36 AM
I don't understand when someone says "use you lats when lowering the bar" or "put the pressure in your back". What does that mean and how do you guys do it?... I'm hoping Travis Bell and Mike Wolfe and all the other awesome benchers post in my humble thread. Thanks.

Chalky Palms
12-03-2008, 08:40 AM
I'm sure someone else can comment on this better but basically you want to tuck your shoulders back and keep them tight, this engages the lats and creates a strong base for you to press off of.

LionLord
12-03-2008, 09:05 AM
I'm sure someone else can comment on this better but basically you want to tuck your shoulders back and keep them tight, this engages the lats and creates a strong base for you to press off of.

Is that it? I've been doing that for quite a while. I've read somewhere that you're supposed to pull with your lats when you lower the weight. But if i do that, my sternum will get crushed. lol. Thank you for the advice though.

Kiknskreem
12-03-2008, 09:09 AM
Pulling the bar down only applies to geared lifts.

LionLord
12-03-2008, 09:17 AM
Pulling the bar down only applies to geared lifts.

Ahhh, that explains it. Are bench press shirts so tight that you'd actually struggle lowering the bar down? That's awesome. Whoever invented bench shirts is a genius.

Chalky Palms
12-03-2008, 09:18 AM
Ahhh, that explains it. Are bench press shirts so tight that you'd actually struggle lowering the bar down?

yes, this is what creates the elastic energy potential and makes the bottom portion of the lift easier.

LionLord
12-03-2008, 09:24 AM
Which double ply gear is the tightest and brings the most support? I'd buy it regardless of the pain that it gives me.

drew
12-03-2008, 09:48 AM
Which double ply gear is the tightest and brings the most support? I'd buy it regardless of the pain that it gives me.

First, find knowlegable lifters to train with. Then get something single ply that you can learn with. If you jump into the tightest double ply shirt you can find, with no experience and no help, you'll be in for a long and frustrating (and painful and dangerous) experience.

LionLord
12-03-2008, 10:04 AM
I can buy a single ply, but a knowledgeable training partner? lol. No way. The only way for me to get knowledgeable training partners is for you guys to move here with me in Oregon. There's waaay too much FLEX enthusiasts...

drew
12-03-2008, 12:11 PM
Go to powerliftingwatch.com, click on powerlifting gyms on the left and then select Oregon. You'll find 7 powerlifting gyms listed there. Pick one and go train there.

Lunar Effect
12-03-2008, 01:20 PM
Whoever invented bench shirts is a genius.

I guess it's all a matter of opinion...

LionLord
12-03-2008, 03:26 PM
Go to powerliftingwatch.com, click on powerlifting gyms on the left and then select Oregon. You'll find 7 powerlifting gyms listed there. Pick one and go train there.


Thank you so much. I've never thought of doing that. I've been using that website to search meets and have always ignored the gyms...

Barbaccio
12-03-2008, 03:26 PM
My best advice is this:
Visualize you pushing someone away from you.
Your elbows should go down by your side.
Flex your elbows in toward your body, you should feel the lats contracting.
Now that you've felt what your lats feel like....
Lay flat on the bench.
Squeeze your shoulderblades together.
Take the bar off the pegs and bring it down to your chest.
Your elbows should still be by your side.
Try to touch your elbows together behind you.
Now you should feel tight in your entire back.
Shove the bar up like you'd shove someone standing in front of you.
You've just used your back.

LionLord
12-03-2008, 03:29 PM
I guess it's all a matter of opinion...

Funny thing about bench shirts is that the open back shirts are invented by accident. I may be wrong and if I am, please correct me, I've heard that there was a guy who went in a meet and his poly shirt ripped... And to his surprise, his bench went up!!

LionLord
12-03-2008, 03:33 PM
Thank you Barbaccio for your wonderful advices.

What about the leg drive? I've tried to do it once, but one of my feet didn't remain firmly on the ground... And how wide should my foot positioning be?

Oh, and how low should the bar placement be when you go down? Just right below the chest, to the ribs, or waaay below the stomach?

Barbaccio
12-03-2008, 03:43 PM
Bar placement is going to depend on where you're strong and whether you are raw or in a shirt. I tuck alot harder in a shirt than I do raw but my positions are similar. My training partner benches completely different raw than he does in a shirt. I tend to take the bar to my second ab when shirt benching and the first when raw. Where you can take it will depend on your strength. You need to find your stroke and where you touch comfortably with the best power.

The feet are another story. It all depends on how high the bench is, what your setup is like, etc. Without seeing you, it's hard to tell.

LionLord
12-03-2008, 03:46 PM
Bar placement is going to depend on where you're strong and whether you are raw or in a shirt. I tuck alot harder in a shirt than I do raw but my positions are similar. My training partner benches completely different raw than he does in a shirt. I tend to take the bar to my second ab when shirt benching and the first when raw. Where you can take it will depend on your strength. You need to find your stroke and where you touch comfortably with the best power.

The feet are another story. It all depends on how high the bench is, what your setup is like, etc. Without seeing you, it's hard to tell.


Again, thank you.

Are there any PL feds out there that does not allow benching from the stomach? I heard APF does not allow bar positioning that is waaay too low.

Chalky Palms
12-03-2008, 04:26 PM
My best advice is this:
Visualize you pushing someone away from you.
Your elbows should go down by your side.
Flex your elbows in toward your body, you should feel the lats contracting.
Now that you've felt what your lats feel like....
Lay flat on the bench.
Squeeze your shoulderblades together.
Take the bar off the pegs and bring it down to your chest.
Your elbows should still be by your side.
Try to touch your elbows together behind you.
Now you should feel tight in your entire back.
Shove the bar up like you'd shove someone standing in front of you.
You've just used your back.

You don't have to tuck your elbows, some of the best pressers in the world flare their elbows out to their sides.

Barbaccio
12-03-2008, 04:49 PM
Yeah, umm, I tuck mine. So, like, I was giving him advice based on what I know how to do. And, for the record, the less you tuck, the less back you're going to be able to use and the more your shoulder will come into play.

drew
12-04-2008, 06:39 AM
Shove the bar up like you'd shove someone standing in front of you.
You've just used your back.

When Tone shoves somebody, they don't get up.

Ryano
12-04-2008, 07:09 AM
You don't have to tuck your elbows, some of the best pressers in the world flare their elbows out to their sides.
If you don't tuck your elbows at the bottom of the press, you won't be benching very long. The wear & tear on your shoulders will take you out of the sport.

KarstenDD
12-04-2008, 11:17 AM
You don't have to tuck your elbows, some of the best pressers in the world flare their elbows out to their sides.

... Big Tone DOES know what he's talking about.

Cricket_Fire
12-04-2008, 11:25 AM
You don't have to tuck your elbows, some of the best pressers in the world flare their elbows out to their sides.

Dude we bench pretty well the same amount so Im not gonna bust your balls too hard about it, but Barbaccio does have a decent enough bench to give proper advice...

RhodeHouse
12-04-2008, 11:30 AM
You don't have to tuck your elbows, some of the best pressers in the world flare their elbows out to their sides.

Ryan Kennelly
Scot Mendelson
Rob Luyando

The best in the world, tuck they're elbows. I'm gonna go out on a limb, way out on a limb, and say, the best presses in the world DO NOT bench with their elbows flaired. Not to mention, if your elbows are flaired, the is no way you can use your lats.

brihead301
12-04-2008, 11:42 AM
Does anyone have an example of what flaired elbows vs. tucked elbows looks like?

Travis Bell
12-04-2008, 12:12 PM
I don't understand when someone says "use you lats when lowering the bar" or "put the pressure in your back". What does that mean and how do you guys do it?... I'm hoping Travis Bell and Mike Wolfe and all the other awesome benchers post in my humble thread. Thanks.

Sorry, I've been busy and this thread escaped me.

Tucking your elbows will certainly help, but are you talking about raw lifting or equipped?

If equipped, then tucking is much more important. If raw however, the tuck is still important, but a moderate tuck is fine.

Really a lot of it goes to pinching your shoulder blades together real tight and flexing your lats very hard. It gives you excellent stability when bringing the weight down.

Chalky Palms
12-04-2008, 01:54 PM
My bad, I was meant to say I was referring to raw lifters, which I assumed he was, that is what I was giving advice off of. Its really preference to tuck your elbows when raw, there are some strong mofos who bench with elbows flaired.

Travis Bell
12-04-2008, 02:22 PM
Its really preference to tuck your elbows when raw, there are some strong mofos who bench with elbows flaired.

Well technically its a preference if you want to bench tucked in a shirt as well. Not the wisest choice though or the most productive.

Benching flared will in the long run dramatically shorten the life of your shoulders and rotators. Its not a good idea, but feels more natural at first to most people so they stick with it.

LionLord
12-04-2008, 03:37 PM
I lift raw, and I always tuck my shoulders.

Chalky Palms
12-04-2008, 06:43 PM
I lift raw, and I always tuck my shoulders.

You should always tuck your shoulders back, that's not preference but proper form. We are talking about elbows.

Ryano
12-04-2008, 08:34 PM
LionLord, there have been a couple of VERY good benchers, both shirted and raw, that say you should tuck elbows. If you're just learning, learn the right way and save your shoulders. Tuck your elbows at the bottom of the lift, flare at the top.

Chalky Palms
12-04-2008, 08:48 PM
mendelson raw bench, need I say more

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Ryano
12-04-2008, 08:59 PM
Chalky Palms, that is a poor video angle to see elbows, but you can still see that Scott tucks his elbows at the bottom, about a 45 degrees, and flares at lockout. The tuck needs to be more if shirted and less if raw, but still tucked.

Chalky Palms
12-04-2008, 09:17 PM
Chalky Palms, that is a poor video angle to see elbows, but you can still see that Scott tucks his elbows at the bottom, about a 45 degrees, and flares at lockout. The tuck needs to be more if shirted and less if raw, but still tucked.

Definately man I agree, theres always a little natural tuck when benching but I'm just saying, for raw pressers it is more of a preference than for geared lifters.

Eric Downey
12-04-2008, 11:21 PM
hey look the john kid found his way back to the board.

Barbaccio
12-05-2008, 07:10 AM
Definately man I agree, theres always a little natural tuck when benching but I'm just saying, for raw pressers it is more of a preference than for geared lifters.

Sure it's more of a preference. More of a preference to bench more. So far I've seen your answer to 2 different posts and both it seemed like you were taking the opposite side just to be on the opposite side. If that's what you like have at it. You want to tell the guy to press elbows out? Kewl. You want to tell the guy that leg drive isn't important? Awesome. You want to tell the guy the sky is red even though "most people but not all" see it as blue, fine by me. If you go to train with anyone who knows what they're doing, and claim that "well not everyone does it that way" you'll soon be thrown out of alot of gyms. It doesn't matter if you "prefer" not to tuck. Fact remains that tucking will not only prolong your lifting, you will also involve more muscle groups allowing you to bench bigger weights. End of story.

.....But not everyone has to agree, some might see it as the beginning of a new story instead.

Chalky Palms
12-05-2008, 07:51 AM
Do you just argue for the sake of arguing? I'm not telling anyone to bench either way, I'm just saying you don't HAVE to bench elbows tucked. Some people can bench more with their elbows more flared. I'm not telling anybody how to bench, I'm saying its a preference, if you can lift more with elbows tucked than that's fine, but everybody is different.

http://www.wannabebigforums.com/showthread.php?t=115349&highlight=tuck+elbows+bench

There's a thread with a kid arguing that you SHOULD tuck your elbows, and everybody disagrees lol, if I had sad you should tuck your elbows you would have probably given me **** about that, there is no one way to bench, sorry.

heres a little excerpt from the thread if you don't read it.


No - it's personal preference. I'm not saying one way or the other is right, but tucking the elbows as a raw powerlifter is not absolutely necessary.

I'd say Ben is a pretty respectable guy wouldn't you?

another quote from that thread:

Go look at some video of the heaviest raw benches of all time and you will not see much tuck at all.

LionLord
12-05-2008, 08:16 AM
You should always tuck your shoulders back, that's not preference but proper form. We are talking about elbows.

Ooops, my bad, I meant elbows. Not shoulders.

LionLord
12-05-2008, 08:19 AM
My shoulder blades are always retracted and elbows always tucked. I just wanted to know if I was doing this right cause I'm not sure exactly how to use your lats. Since you guys already told me that, thanks alot.