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View Full Version : Technical Q for LAM, BenchMonster and/or other "Big Benchers".



WestyHeadbanger
08-25-2003, 03:16 AM
Hi benchamatics. Could someone tell me which muscles are involved at which parts of the bench ROM.

I have a standard grip, elbows not completely in but definitely not flared out.

My main weak spot is about 3 inches after the bar has left my chest.

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

:help:

jugheadkills
08-25-2003, 07:38 AM
http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/PectoralSternal/DBBenchPress.html

hemants
08-25-2003, 07:45 AM
Just a thought but you could try starting with the bar lower on your chest at the bottom and then push it on a slight angle so that the bar is above your shoulders at the top. I find this helps with the sticky point you mentioned.

BigCorey75
08-25-2003, 12:01 PM
try speed work and some triceps work, usuall when you get stuck off of the chest that means your not exploding enough off of your chest, try some dynamic work to help increase bar speed off of the chest, also work the shoulders alot, they help in the lifting right off of the chest, also finally the triceps to help with the lock out.

noraa
08-25-2003, 05:12 PM
chest/shoulders

speed work will help, as will plyometrics

Delphi
08-25-2003, 07:53 PM
Tate is pretty adamant that lats are heavily involved in bench pressing. More so than pecs. Your shoulder blades need to be squeezed together to get maximum advantage from your lats. And of course triceps are important at lockout.

Edit: meant triceps, not pecs in the last sentence.

Meat_Head
08-25-2003, 08:42 PM
Originally posted by Delphi
Tate is pretty adamant that lats are heavily involved in bench pressing. More so than pecs. Your shoulder blades need to be squeezed together to get maximum advantage from your lats. And of course pecs are important at lockout.

Lats don't move the bar, but if you've reached a high level of development they can certainly aid the lift.

I'd say work your pecs and triceps, but most importantly your front delts. They are used in ALL presses, and are the most heavily used in bench pressing(slightly depending on your build and form).

chris mason
08-26-2003, 07:30 AM
Here is an excerpt from the Fred Hatfield book The Complete Guide to Powerlifting :




A few other points. If a lifter assumes a radical arch, as he should, during a maximal bench press attempt, and he compresses his shoulder blades as previously mentioned, the lats will move the bar. One of the functions of the lats is to lower the shoulders (depress the scapula). When a bencher achieves a radical arch, depressing the scapula occurs at the beginning of the press. An extreme arch starts essentially mimics a decline press. When the body is in this position the lats can be used to help initiate the press off of the chest.

It also sounds to me like your sticking point is where deltoid involvement becomes reduced relative to pectoral and tricep involvement. Dr. Hatfield recommends that a lifter who uses a narrow to moderate width grip try the following technique. As the sticking point is reached sharpy flare the elbows out (perpindicular to the body) in order to maximize pectoral involvement. If you bench with a wider grip the problem, according to Dr. Hatfield, is probably due to pectoral and/or tricep relative weakness.

Try using the table referenced to help determine your best technique. Keep in mind that this table does not take into account leverage factors due to muscle insertions and that some experimentation is always best.

Relentless
08-26-2003, 07:34 AM
some advice from the powerlifting coach i recently trained with:

- split the diff. with your elbows -- shoot for a 45 degree angle to your body or so.
- don't push down along your body, push up... if you're stalling in midlift, try bringing the bar a little closer to the top of your body

benchmonster
08-26-2003, 07:44 AM
OK, here's the deal. Coming off the chest, it is pecs and lats that are moving the bar. Tate says lats more than pecs and I don't disagree, but both play a role.

Triceps, if used correctly are working the entire length of the press but are most important at the top part of the lift.

The midsection of the lift is dominated by front delts.

So basically the bar is launched with pecs/lats, then the front delts take over to get through the middle 3rd of the lift.

Then the triceps finish off the lift.

Now, this is a bit oversimplified, as all muscles are flexed and working the entire length of the press.

And if you are stalling 3 inches above your chest, work on upper back development, get a better arch, and work on upping your bar speed. You also might consider benching in a shirt more. The shirt acts like extra pec and front delt muscles, which helps you through this difficult and dangerous lower end of the press.

B.

Meat_Head
08-26-2003, 07:23 PM
Sorry, I know the lats are used in the bench press, but I don't understand how they could move the bar at all, seeing as how they are responsible for pulling your arms in the opposite direction the bar is moving in the bench press. If you were upside down decline press, which no one does, your lats would be moving the bar with your chest, but on a flat bench, I don't see how lats would make a significant difference in your bench press.

PowerManDL
08-26-2003, 08:10 PM
The arch.

noraa
08-27-2003, 01:46 AM
When the bar is on your chest, your arm is below your back somewhat. For the short range of motion off your chest until the arms are even with the body, the lats will be used.

benchmonster
08-27-2003, 07:33 AM
Well meathead, find me a 600+ bencher with small lats, then I will admit that lats don't have anything to do with bench pressing. Best upper backs outside of the bodybuilding world are attached to big bench pressers.

B.

chris mason
08-27-2003, 10:40 AM
Possibly true, but that response doesn't really prove your point. Those big guys obviously have good genetics for size and strength and equally obviously they train their backs directly for assistance work.

MeatHead, as I said in the above post it has to do with the severe arch of the back and other factors. A severe enough arch almost makes the movement like a decline press. This places the muscles of the upper back in a position to provide both assistance and stabilization (depending on the muscles used). In addition, you can do a little self experimentation. Get into the bench press position (bottom of the movement). Once you are set, consciously spread your lats and see what happens. This is yet another way they help to move the bar.

Delphi
08-27-2003, 03:47 PM
If you look at all the articles written by Simmons and Tate over at Deepsquatter.com you won't find any recommendations to work the pecs at all. No flyes, no cable crossovers, no pec deck work. They do recommend in some of the articles that you do some lat work, though.

Meat_Head
08-27-2003, 08:07 PM
Originally posted by Delphi
If you look at all the articles written by Simmons and Tate over at Deepsquatter.com you won't find any recommendations to work the pecs at all. No flyes, no cable crossovers, no pec deck work. They do recommend in some of the articles that you do some lat work, though.


So you need strong lats and triceps to have a good bench, not strong pecs.... I don't buy, and I don't dig.

Flies, cable crossovers, and pec deck work are for size mainly. Flies have some possible benefit to your bench, but mostly only when you get into heavier DB's. Regardless, strong pecs are essential to any big bencher, no matter what proportions they have and what form they use.

Just because Simmons and Tate recommended it doesn't mean its the only possible or best way. Individuals are too different to say that if everyone bumped their tricep and lat training up their bench would skyrocket. Not everyone needs that.

I say train all the muscles you use in the bench if you want a big bench. You'll find your weak points, and when you do, work on them. Your weak points may not be your triceps, for example. It may be your delts, or pecs, or simply form. It could be a section of the lift that is mostly stressing pecs. It could be a number of things that aren't necissarily lats and triceps.

Now that I've had a chance to rant... I'm gonna go lift...

Meat_Head
08-27-2003, 08:10 PM
Originally posted by benchmonster
Well meathead, find me a 600+ bencher with small lats, then I will admit that lats don't have anything to do with bench pressing. Best upper backs outside of the bodybuilding world are attached to big bench pressers.

B.

No offense, but thats a moot point.

Show me a man who can bench 600+ who doesn't have big calves, or hamstrings, or erectors, or biceps, or abs.

A man who can do that will be big and strong everywhere, not just because he trains the lift, but because he's genetically gifted, and likely has a pretty large anabolic bill to.

Delphi
08-27-2003, 08:12 PM
Originally posted by xMeat_Headx

Just because Simmons and Tate recommended it doesn't mean its the only possible or best way.



Agreed.

unshift
08-27-2003, 08:14 PM
funny, last i recally these people are benching a hell of a lot more than you are.

i've stopped doing direct pec work (no flyes, etc) and my bench has went up a bit. granted, it's still weak as hell, but it's certainly gone up about 50lbs over the summer.

training all the muscles is fine, but guess what, when you're benching in the gym you ARE training all the muscles. it's just that they're saying that theres no need to _emphasize_ working the pecs, cause in the majority of cases they probably won't be the sticking point. if you're benching properly, they'll get worked and accustomed to the lift, but doing pec work like flyes and whatnot probably won't be very beneficial

Meat_Head
08-27-2003, 08:37 PM
Originally posted by unshift
funny, last i recally these people are benching a hell of a lot more than you are.

If you mean the people on WBB, yes there are some impressive lifts here. But mostly those are performed by veteran lifters, who are many years my senior.

For a 186lb 17 year old guy, I don't think 200+ is so bad either, especially considering that my bench was over 50lbs less a year ago, and I haven't been training for it directly.



i've stopped doing direct pec work (no flyes, etc) and my bench has went up a bit. granted, it's still weak as hell, but it's certainly gone up about 50lbs over the summer.

What's to say it wouldn't have gone up more if you had done pec work? Nothing.

What's to say it would? Nothing.

That's another moot point.



training all the muscles is fine, but guess what, when you're benching in the gym you ARE training all the muscles. it's just that they're saying that theres no need to _emphasize_ working the pecs, cause in the majority of cases they probably won't be the sticking point. if you're benching properly, they'll get worked and accustomed to the lift, but doing pec work like flyes and whatnot probably won't be very beneficial

Right... and there's no need to do lat work or tricep work or delt work either, because they get worked by the lift right?

And NO one has a sticking point that is because of their weak pecs, regardless of the fact that in many cases the pecs are what moves almost all of the weight, right?

This is just an observation, but if I'm correct, about 80% of sticking points for people are about 2-4 inches off the chest. That is going to be mainly pecs and shoulders moving the bar.

But that doesn't matter. All of the muscles used in the lift should be worked and strengthened. None should be given extreme special treatment(i.e. 10 sets for triceps or lats or delts during westside like programs) and none should be neglected.

Just my take on things...

GonePostal
08-27-2003, 08:51 PM
For someone so young and inexperienced you seem to be very sure that you are more knowledgable then the rest.

unshift
08-27-2003, 08:52 PM
i agree everything should be worked, but benching is probably enough pec work. or at least different forms of benching -- inclines, floor press, board press, etc.

basically i think the point here is that strengthening your "inner" and "upper" chest is useless -- instead you need to work on things which drive the lift, especially for an elite bencher. most people you see in the gym will do flyes (cable flyes especially -- most worthless exercise ever) hoping to increase their bench, when in reality, the pecs are getting plenty of work with thorough benching but it is other factors holding back the lift.

PowerManDL
08-27-2003, 09:22 PM
Two things:

1) No matter what you might think, Westside produces the best benchers (well, Metal Militia...but I'm talking on the whole) in the world. Not only that, but they do it consistently. That should say something about their methods.

2) Westside is designed for competitive powerlifters. Competitive is the key word, as it means they will be using equipment. "Weak" pectorals would only be apparent right off the chest in a PL bench style. If you're using a shirt, you won't even notice. Strong lats, however, will make quite a difference.

Meat_Head
08-27-2003, 10:53 PM
Originally posted by PowerManDL
Two things:

1) No matter what you might think, Westside produces the best benchers (well, Metal Militia...but I'm talking on the whole) in the world. Not only that, but they do it consistently. That should say something about their methods.

2) Westside is designed for competitive powerlifters. Competitive is the key word, as it means they will be using equipment. "Weak" pectorals would only be apparent right off the chest in a PL bench style. If you're using a shirt, you won't even notice. Strong lats, however, will make quite a difference.

So weaker pecs would be a very big problem in westside if one wasn't using a bench shirt....

Most people in the gym don't use a bench shirt. Most don't compete. Most shouldn't neglect pectoral training.

Also, when I'm talking about developing pectoral strength, I'm not really talking about crossovers or flies or any other pumping exercises. I'm talking about incline, flat, and decline bench pressing with barbells or dumbells, and dips. Those seem to be the most result producing exercises.

The thing that annoys me is that people trying to improve their bench non-competitively start with westside and hardly to any full ROM bench work. There's routine after routine with the closest thing to actual benching being 2 board presses.

I agree that with a bench shirt there isn't really much a need for bottom position pectoral strength because the shirt and lats help take care of it. But if you aren't going to be using a shirt, why not do some kind of full ROM barbell or dumbell touching the chest bench press. Seems more beneficial to me, since that is the movement you're training for.

Meat_Head
08-27-2003, 10:59 PM
Originally posted by GonePostal
For someone so young and inexperienced you seem to be very sure that you are more knowledgable then the rest.

I may come off that way, but I don't in any way think I'm more knowledgable than the rest. I'm opinionated, I'm not saying you should take what I say as law. I'm also trying to learn more and more every day, so forgive me if I state something that may be completely false.

As for experience, I'm not a veteran, but I've been lifting for over 3 years, and have made quite some progress in those 3 years. I've put 80lbs on my squat in half a year when I wanted to, I put 50lbs on my deadlift, 50 on my bench, went from curling 60 for 5 reps to 100x4, gone from doing 3 dips to 8 dips with 45lbs on my waist, and various other stuff... blah you get the idea. I've also gone from being 5'9 132lbs to being 5'11 186lbs.

I have a pretty good idea of how to gain muscular size and strength. That doesn't mean I'll stop seeking better routines and more knowledge.

WestyHeadbanger
08-28-2003, 03:16 AM
Thanks BenchMonster. That's what I wanted to know.

chris mason
08-28-2003, 07:14 AM
Ok, here is a key a lot of you guys seem to miss, regardless of what anyone says, strong pectorals are very important to a big bench (as strong as you are capable of having). Now, I think people misunderstand when training systems don't advocate isolation work for the pecs. I think they take it to mean that it is less important, that the pecs are not prime movers in the bench. Before I had an injury bug that messed up my benching, I always found that performing isolation work actually hindered my bench press progress. Why, I always assumed it resulted in overtraining of the pectoralis. Now, on the flip side, on the rare occassions I did isolation work (when I had a good bench), I could handle some very impressive weight. This obviously indicates my pecs were being worked rather heartily with the pressing I was doing. So, DON'T MAKE THE MISTAKE IN ASSUMING THE PECS ARE NOT IMPORTANT.

As for meathead, he has a lot of good points and is usually pretty accurate from what I have seen.

Paul Stagg
08-28-2003, 07:28 AM
Originally posted by Delphi
If you look at all the articles written by Simmons and Tate over at Deepsquatter.com you won't find any recommendations to work the pecs at all. No flyes, no cable crossovers, no pec deck work. They do recommend in some of the articles that you do some lat work, though.

There are reasons for this:

The pecs get plenty of work benching

Most PLers use equipment that helps at the bottom of the lift

In most cases, the pecs are not the limiting factor in the lift.

If you read into what they are saying, there are two messages - one is to train what is weak, and make it strong. The other is that until you know your weak points, assume everything is.

In the second case, or for those who lift without a bench shirt, a bit more direct pec work (via dumbell presses, illegal wide presses, and cambered bar presses) is called for.

There isn't a westisde rule that says you can't do crossovers or flyes... if that makes your bench better, you absolutely SHOULD do them.

PowerManDL
08-28-2003, 12:55 PM
Originally posted by xMeat_Headx
Most people in the gym don't use a bench shirt. Most don't compete. Most shouldn't neglect pectoral training.

Most shouldn't be training Westside, either.


The thing that annoys me is that people trying to improve their bench non-competitively start with westside and hardly to any full ROM bench work. There's routine after routine with the closest thing to actual benching being 2 board presses.

I agree totally. Someone not seeking a competitive bench really shouldn't be doing the Westside routine.


I agree that with a bench shirt there isn't really much a need for bottom position pectoral strength because the shirt and lats help take care of it. But if you aren't going to be using a shirt, why not do some kind of full ROM barbell or dumbell touching the chest bench press. Seems more beneficial to me, since that is the movement you're training for.

Again, I agree entirely.

LAM
08-28-2003, 01:06 PM
Originally posted by benchmonster
OK, here's the deal. Coming off the chest, it is pecs and lats that are moving the bar. Tate says lats more than pecs and I don't disagree, but both play a role.

Triceps, if used correctly are working the entire length of the press but are most important at the top part of the lift.

The midsection of the lift is dominated by front delts.

So basically the bar is launched with pecs/lats, then the front delts take over to get through the middle 3rd of the lift.

Then the triceps finish off the lift.

Now, this is a bit oversimplified, as all muscles are flexed and working the entire length of the press.

And if you are stalling 3 inches above your chest, work on upper back development, get a better arch, and work on upping your bar speed. You also might consider benching in a shirt more. The shirt acts like extra pec and front delt muscles, which helps you through this difficult and dangerous lower end of the press.

B.

I agree with everything except the use of a bench shirt.

benchmonster
08-28-2003, 05:16 PM
Whew, nice healthy debate going on here. I like seeing that. Once again Chris Mason goes out of his way to take a shot at me, which lets me know that all is normal. :D

Now on to some points made in the thread. Chris says that pecs are important in the bench press. He could not be more right. Pecs are most definately important in the bench press. They should not be the PRIME mover of the weight in a properly performed bench press.

You do have to get strong everywhere in the upper body to lift big bench presss, but for competitive lifters, who wear shirts the lats and triceps are the most important movers.

LAM I don't quite understand what your disagreement is re: my comment about the bench shirts. I guess you disagree with thier use. If so that is a matter of opinion, that we will have to disagree on. But if you are saying my comment re: shirts was incorrect, then I would be interested in why you think my comment was incorrect.

B.

LAM
08-29-2003, 12:35 PM
unless he is going to be competing in PL meets or bench comps, I don't think training with a bench shirt is necessary.

If he is benching to stimulate hypertrophy or just to have a "big bench" in the gym, then benching raw is the only way to go..IMO

fuzz
08-29-2003, 12:45 PM
I'm not sure I understand why someone with a sub 300 lb bench would be using a shirt (assume for this discussion a male, over 150 lbs or whatever, as it would be different for women). If your bench is that low, you should be working on the foundation - getting your form down, building your base strength, learning how to handle max lifts. Why start using equipment so early? So you can add 30 lbs to what will still be an uncompetitive lift?

benchmonster
08-29-2003, 12:52 PM
Well since I began training with a shirt, both my RAW and shirted bench have gone up, so I think training with a shirt is a pretty good idea, but what do I know? I only bench about 600 freaking pounds right now.

Also, I thought that this was a powerlifting board. I give responses with that knowledge in mind. If someone is just interested in being a gym bencher, then they are not a powerlifter. When someone asks a question on this board (powerlifting/olympic lifts) then I assume that they are either a powerlifter or an aspiring powerlifter.

And as for why to start with equipment so early, it is never to early to learn the equipment and it is never too early to stay safe. Sure someone may only have a 300 bench. While 300 lbs is never ever going to tear my pecs, or Chris Mason's pecs or LAM's that same amount of weight may be enough to tear up a pec or shoulder from a beginner.

We only get one set of shoulders and rotator cuffs. I may be more sensitive to this subject than most as I have a torn right rotator. I have trouble with my shoulder any time I go very heavy RAW, but never have a problem with it when I wear a shirt. I am and always will be a big shirt advocate as it allows injured people to lift, and if used properly can help people avoid injuries to thier shoulders and pecs altogether.

And of course if used properly it helps you to put up bigger numbers, which is, I beleive, the name of the game in powerlifting.

B.

unshift
08-29-2003, 12:58 PM
personally i'd say wear a shirt to stay safe. my understanding is that they help put your muscles in optimal benching position, and if i was trying to bench 500 lbs, i wouldn't want to be in anything other than optimal position.