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View Full Version : What do I need to do to fix my bench?



Iplan
09-01-2010, 02:51 PM
I was reading the thread "OHP for Bench" in which the OP had a problem on the bench:
Specifically, his problem was from floor press to lockout. He thinks weak shoulders are the problem.

My problem is exactly the opposite of his: I'm weak from the point the bar touches my Chest to the point where I can get the bar back to Floor Press level.

I can floor press for reps about 80lbs more than I can for a regular full range of motion bench movement.

I bench flat as opposed to arched. I know arching would raise my chest level, and thereby limit the range of motion), but in my mind that is just a "cheat" around the probem. I'd like to address it head on if I could.

Does anyone have an exercise recommendations that might address the problem?

StLRPh
09-01-2010, 02:57 PM
Do you use any leg drive?

gatorman2k6
09-01-2010, 03:05 PM
Paused benching is helping me. Just pause for 1-3sec on your chest and then press it.

AdamBAG
09-01-2010, 03:13 PM
Dude, arching is cheating? Dubya Tee Eff?

Iplan
09-01-2010, 03:46 PM
Dude, arching is cheating?

I know I posted in the powerlifting forum, but I'm not speaking in terms of what might be acceptable at a powerlifting meet..... I'm just trying to address a perceived muscular weakness in the overall movement, I'm looking for a "muscular strengthening" solution.

So, if by cheating you mean, "arching to shorten or reduce the range of motion on flat bench" then I would say "yes for me that's cheating because it does nothing to strengthen the muscles in play." ~

If by cheating you mean "arching to effectively turn the flat bench movement into a decline bench movement" I would say "yes for me that's cheating because I want to train the flat bench, and not the decline bench." ~

I do use what I feel to be a good bit of leg drive, and my quads are often sore after bench day.

I'll try to do some pauses at the bottom of the movement. I think that could be a great suggestoin. I recall doing that with dumbell floor presses when my largest dumbells only went up to 80 lbs to increase the intensity.

Any other movements that might help?

StLRPh
09-01-2010, 03:51 PM
This is what helped me the most:
Gain weight
Improve Arch
Improve Leg Drive
Improve triceps strength (dips and one other exercise usually).


Then again my bench is exactly amazing but this is what others suggested :)

gmen5681
09-01-2010, 04:13 PM
im sure you could benefit from adding in speed work. if you can be more explosive out of the bottom that would help a lot with your weak off the chest. try adding in some 50-60% speed work for 8-10set of 1-3 reps.

mike95763
09-01-2010, 04:54 PM
Since you just want to work on building strength at the bottom and not increasing your bench max, I would think that things like leg drive or speed work or increasing arch would not be very helpful (although they would translate to a bigger bench overall). That being said, I would try paused presses like someone else mentioned along with dumbell presses and cambered bar presses. You may not have access to a cambered bar, but you obviously have access to dumbells that you could use to go well below the normal range of motion allowed by a barbell.

Iplan
09-01-2010, 07:13 PM
You just want to work on building strength at the bottom and not increasing your bench max

I think if I can get stronger at the bottom of the lift my bench max will rise because that's were I'm weak in this lift. I can floor press about 80 lbs more for reps than I can flat bench... so I'm thinking if I just get better at the bottom where I'm weak, I will effectively increase my flat bench totals by 80 lbs.....

Is this a correct assumption on my part?

If I can fix the issue, I should be able to clear 300 - 325 lbs on flat bench by December, as I floor press 275 for 5x12 now.

ScottYard
09-01-2010, 08:05 PM
im sure you could benefit from adding in speed work. if you can be more explosive out of the bottom that would help a lot with your weak off the chest. try adding in some 50-60% speed work for 8-10set of 1-3 reps.

I agree. speed work is needed.

Iplan
09-01-2010, 09:20 PM
I agree. speed work is needed.

Do I put speed work in on the same day I bench as an accessory, or in place of what I'm normally doing on Bench?

ccanter
09-01-2010, 10:13 PM
I've been training the bench press with a three second pause on my chest for the last two months and have gained a lot of power already. I concur with the suggestion to add that to your regimen.

Of course, I arch my back and I can't fathom training without one because the flat backed, bodybuilder style of benching was hell on my shoulders. I think that style of benching (flat backed) doesn't allow us to stabilize as much as we should and so when the weights get heavy our joints suffer.

vdizenzo
09-02-2010, 05:33 AM
Some thoughts are ultra-wides, pause benching, and speed bench.

ScottYard
09-02-2010, 06:53 AM
Do I put speed work in on the same day I bench as an accessory, or in place of what I'm normally doing on Bench?

Do it on a seperate day 4 days after your heavy day. Go light with 40-50% of your contest or legitimate gym max. 6-8 sets of 3.

Iplan
09-03-2010, 02:48 PM
Thanks for the suggestions ~ I'm going to incorporate speed benching and pause benching.... I'll update my progress in a month or so.

pricedtosell
09-05-2010, 05:01 PM
I've read a lot of articles about the bench and many have said that the floor press actually is a great lift for increasing strength for the bottom/start of the bench. If you were to implement a strong arch into your bench form, your ROM would be the same as that of the floor press. This would effectively enable you to bench the 80 more lbs you're able to floor press, I don't know why this is something you'd want to avoid.

Iplan
09-05-2010, 09:55 PM
If you were to implement a strong arch into your bench form, your ROM would be the same as that of the floor press. This would effectively enable you to bench the 80 more lbs you're able to floor press, I don't know why this is something you'd want to avoid.

Right, but with you're suggestion, all I've done is "reduced" the full range of motion.... I want to be strong all the way through my full range of motion.... not by bowing my back to create some artificial range of motion.

I could care less how much I bench ~ I just want to be balanced/ strong through the entire range of movement......

pricedtosell
09-05-2010, 11:53 PM
By your logic, I can say you're still "cheating" by only using a standard barbell to bench with. I could make the equally ridiculous claim that you have to use a cambered bar to get the full ROM for a bench.

Bench with a pause at the bottom, use a cambered bar if you can, do dumbbell presses for high reps and watch this.

http://articles.elitefts.com/articles/features/so-you-think-you-can-bench-get-the-whole-series-here/

pricedtosell
09-06-2010, 01:14 AM
"Arching is the best way to ensure that your upper body is tight, and can help protect your shoulders by keeping the muscles around the joint in place and, more importantly, by limiting humeral abduction. Someone who benches with a flat back most likely is a shoulder bencher, which means that their elbows are flared almost to their ears and the bar is way to close to their face. Add in the fact that they have their mid-trap area driven into the bench with their lats hanging off the bench, and it's pretty easy to understand that these benchers have no upper body stability and in a more dangerous position from both an acute and chronic sense. In the process of writing this article, I went to the gym and benched like I have in the past - almost exactly as I just described as the wrong way. I worked to 225 and shut it down after that. My raw bench with the proper technique is approximately 400 pounds, yet when I took out 225 without arching; it felt like a ton - like it was going to fall right through me. I had no control over where it was going to touch my chest. Look at a flat-back bencher and notice how far his elbows dip below the bench; now look at someone who is arching. The difference is night and day, unless the flat-back bencher has a huge gut and T-rex arms."

Re-think your anti-arching stance.

bojackson
09-06-2010, 01:27 PM
guys,
you ALL have tried to give this guy advice, and he keeps calling all of you cheaters. You all gave him good advice out of the goodness of your hearts, and yet, you all "cheat" by arching. Evidently this guy has more knowledge than some world class lifters and he's just having a"go" at all you "cheaters". Hell, just keeping cheating and let him get "strong muscles".

Iplan
09-06-2010, 02:53 PM
guys,
you ALL have tried to give this guy advice, and he keeps calling all of you cheaters. You all gave him good advice out of the goodness of your hearts, and yet, you all "cheat" by arching. Evidently this guy has more knowledge than some world class lifters and he's just having a"go" at all you "cheaters". Hell, just keeping cheating and let him get "strong muscles".

Listen Bo. You don't know Diddly.

Seriously man, that is not what I said at all. I never called anyone a cheater ~ I just said that for me personally, artificially limiting the range of motion is limiting the range of motion (which is gaining a mechanical advantage where there would otherwise not be one)" This mechanical advantage allows you to lift more weight, without the developement of more muscle. While this is completely acceptable in powerlifting circles, it is not what I want for me. I am not taking some higher road here, but it does create some controversy in my mind.

Maybe it might be easier for you to think about it in these terms:

How would your arch statements translate into the squat? It'd be akin to a guy asking for advise to help him when he is coming out of the hole on a deep squat, and you reply, "Dude, put a chair underneath your butt, so you don't have to go past parallel! Then you won't have to worry about being weak in the hole."

That example is an exact parallel to what you're recommending I do on the bench ~ eg: limiting the range of motion, but it sounds crazy when you apply it to the squat!

Most of the replies on this post have been really good, and I really appreciate them. There were a lot of good tips (that I'm already implementing (like speed bench, pause benching, etc.).

The posts that were not so good were the ones that went, "arch your back so you don't have to worry about getting that low anymore." (put a chair under your butt so you don't have to squat so low)


I worked to 225 and shut it down after that. My raw bench with the proper technique is approximately 400 pounds, yet when I took out 225 without arching; it felt like a ton - like it was going to fall right through me. I had no control over where it was going to touch my chest

Statements like this one ^ suggest to me personally that some of you guys may be over reliant on your technique. If you get outside of your arch or your groove that allows you to do 400, you're just an average lifter with an average 225 pound flat bench (just like me). To me the difference between benching 400 pounds arched and 225 pounds flat speaks more to the efficiency of the technique, and not as much to inherent strength of the lifter.

When I was 14, I witnessed my 60 year old grandfather pick up a 400 pound cast iron stove off the floor, and walk it into our house. It was the most pure demonstration of strength I've ever witnessed. No belt, no warmup, just a couple of explicitives directed at my dad, my brother, and me (suggesting that we were all female body parts because the three of us were not able to carry the other end of the stove). We had basically dropped our end, while he was holding his end with no problem Then with a grunt of disgust, my granddad dropped into a squating postion, hugged the stove to his chest, and stood up. The move was lightening quick, and shocking.

He stood their for a second or two, 400lb oak wood stove in hand, and adjusted his grip. Then he bore a hole through all of our heads with his eyes, and let out a an adamant "Don't just stand their gawking~ Open the damn door!" and went right inside, to the corner (where my mom made adjustments while he was still holding it up. ("a little more to the right," okay. maybe a little farther back," etc. then wisened up and said, "That's great!). He set it down gently, and walked back outside. I was amazed.

That is what I want ~ strength for every application, without having to rely on technique for strength.

ironwill727
09-06-2010, 03:12 PM
That is what I want ~ strength for every application, without having to rely on technique for strength.

Then train for strongman.

pricedtosell
09-06-2010, 05:23 PM
You're being 100% hypocritical. You say you want strength without relying on technique, and then preach about how your prefer the technique of benching with a flat back. That's YOUR preferred technique, it's just a different technique. You're still using technique, just an inferior one that prevents you from lifting the most possible weight.

ironwill727 seems to have the best idea yet, just train strongman. It honestly seems like the best avenue to gain the kind of strength you seem to want. Atlas stone training would be a much better way to be able to repeat the feat of strength you were so impressed by in your story. Benching with a flat back isn't going to do it for you.

Hazerboy
09-06-2010, 05:55 PM
So, first of all, a lot of good advice has already been given here. It seems like a lot of you guys here are getting a little offended, but can´t you at least see the kids point of view for a second? He´s drawing a line between raw, brute strength, and technique. He wants to develope the former. The problem is that you can´t draw a line without it being entirely arbitrary (and why would you want to do that?). They´re the same thing, or at the very least, there is a difference but there´s no way to measure it (in which case its totally useless). There is no definitive way to determine how much weight you´re lifting is due to your ¨good technique¨and your ¨strong muscles¨or whatever you want to call it. All you have is a number. You may not know how much of that number is do to what, or what it will transfer to, but you can pretty damn sure that if you can bench 400 lbs your a strong mofo. just because you bench 300 lbs without an arch and i bench 300 with an arch doesn´t mean you´ll be able to throw a punch better or do more pushups or whatever ¨reall world¨crap you want to consider.

Take the basic bench press for instance-no arch, no leg drive, just lay on your back and bench. Lets say you bench with a slight elbow tuck, and a regular grip. How are you so certain that the weight your lifting is due to your ¨brute strength,¨or that fact that you use ¨good technique,¨aka a regular, NOT reverse grip, and that your elbows aren´t flared? Lets say if you do flair the heck out of your elbows, and you use a reverse grip, that you can lift significantly less. Forgetting the fact that this is dangerous, couldn´t you say that your max is due in large part to your ¨good technique?¨ That is, the fact that you used a moderate elbow flare, and and not a reverse grip? At this point, you might say that you´re no longer bench pressing here, but doing something entirely different

see what I´m saying here? there are all sorts of things you can do to make a lift arbitrarily harder. If you´re squatting, you good make the lift harder by good morninging the weight up, using a narrow stance, a high bar, a low bar, etc. Maybe next time I´ll say I can´t squat for **** because I´m using a super duper hard narrow high bar stance and going ATG. Take your grandfather for instance. Even in strongman, in lifting something awkard, there is significant technique involved. I´m sure you´re grandfather used good technique by getting low, keeping the weight close to him, and grabbing a sturdy part of the furnace. Strongman train for each event individually, don´t kid yourself.

But there are only so many things you can do to make a lift easier with in a given set of constraints (that is, have a squat still be a squat, and not a half squat, or quarter squat). This is the advice that everyone is trying to give you here. Make the lift as easy as you can with good technique, and you´ll be safer, move more weight, and you´ll set yourself up to be stronger anyways.

So there is no line. The only true way to measure strength is how much weight you lift given a set of constraints, and by constraints I mean what makes a squat still a squat, or a bench still a bench (touch your chest and back up). Theoretically, the other guy could still be stronger than you. In fact I think it was Dave Tate or Lou or somebody who said that the strongest powerlifter doesn´t always win in a meet. Well, who the hell cares?? There´s no way to measure whatever theoretical "oh i bench without and arch" or "oh i squat high bar and mid stance" sort of strength. All you have is whoever has lifted the most weight within the given constraints, which is pretty damn good for me. Maybe some people will do better or worse than you without those constraints (lifting without a belt, benching with/without an arch), though if you look at the top sports coaches, almost all of them teach at least psuedo powerlifting form (benching with a little bit of an arch, leg drive, shoulders tucked, wide stance squats, etc). Even so, I´d want a football team of 400 lb benchers with leg drive and arch than 225 benchers without.

but bench however you want to bench, at the end of the day i´m sure you´ll be ¨theoretically stronger¨ because you use an increased ROM. But remember that good technique breeds strength-there´s more to an arch than just decreased ROM, its also staying tight, and if you´re not tight, your muscles aren´t working as hard as they would otherwise. Food for thought.

bojackson
09-06-2010, 06:15 PM
geez, i dont know what to tell you then. i guess the only thing to do is enter flat back bench press competitions. and i guess you are right, i dont know diddley. good luck with your training.

dynamo
09-07-2010, 07:27 AM
just to throw in my two cents I don't use a huge arch when I bench. Nothing like Dave Tate but you know the slight arch keeps my body tight and I don't screw up my form. Sometimes if I need some shoulder warm up I'll stay completely flat and do some reps of 135 specifically taking notice of my shoulders. Its not like your grandather didn't have any form when he picked up those wood stoves. If he didn't know what he was doing he wouldve rounded out his lower back and tried to pick up the stoves with his back. If you're looking for brute strength I recommend doing things with proper technique and any deficiencies you think you've developed by having a minor arch to keep your body tight will be made up with your military presses, deadlifts and squats. Because in the end we all know brute strength is a function of the entire body and the bench press is the most useless exercise for this brute strength you're looking for. As a matter of fact, give up benching all together and if you can clean and jerk double your body weight for reps you will no doubt have the strength you desire.

mchicia1
09-07-2010, 07:38 AM
Good luck benching without injury without keeping your shoulders back and tight. Feet wide and flat and a slight arch helped me tremendously. The key to my bench going up was concentrating on keeping constant tension through my legs. However, this does not mean pushing so my ass comes off the bench. If you do the above, as you lower the bar, you will feel all the weight go on your upper back and you will actually feel your legs getting even more natural tension in them. The key on bench is stability in the shoulders. This is the reason you don't see many benchers in commercial gyms above 225 on the bench...because they just sit down and press the weight with no preparation.