The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness
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The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness

Itís no secret that when people contradict themselves, it has the effect of making the flaws in their actions or statements seem glaringly obvious. But what about when WE ourselves get caught contradicting ourselves by someone else?

By: Nick Tumminello Added: January 6th, 2014
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Thread: Bench Technique

  1. #1
    Wannabebig Member
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    Bench Technique

    I need some advice on benching. I am 38 yrs old, have been training for 3years and have brought up my bench from 135 to 315. I used to get pain in my shoulders from time to time and though that was normal considering everything I read about powerlifting. However, when I was at the gym I was lucky enough to have an experienced powerlifter explain my shoulder pain was caused by my poor technique. I tend to flare out my elbows and the bar goes down at mid chest. He recommended for me to buy a bench pressing DVD's to learn about proper form. He was leaving the gym and couldn't help me anymore.

    I have tried to work on form and have found a comfortable spot to lower the
    bar to that allows me to stay tight and reduce tension on my
    shoulders. This spot happens to be a 1-2 inches below my lower chest,
    basically on my top ab muscle.

    My question is, is there a right place to lower the bar? Or is all
    based on personal preference as long as you are able to keep tight,
    have the bar going in a straight line, and have your arms out no more
    than 45 degrees?. I have not been able to see a video with an over
    head shot to see where others have the bar touch.

    Any help will be greatly appreciated.

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  3. #2
    GFH Lones Green's Avatar
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    you're going to get great response to this thread here!

    ohhhhhh travvviiissss!
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  4. #3
    Westside Bencher Travis Bell's Avatar
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    haha sorry, I've been on the road all day long.

    Phil, sounds like you're already on the right track! The biggest thing is to tuck your elbows as you bring the bar down. You hear this alot when guys are talking about shirted benching, but not as much when guys are going raw, but I feel it is the very reason why my shoulders are pain free 99% of the time

    Pull your shoulder blades together real tight when you lay down on the bench and set yourself up on your upper back. Can you get video of your benching? Its really helpful


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  5. #4
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    Thanks for the response. Unfortunately, I don't have access to a camera to post a vid. I apprecate the advice and will try to always incorporate it every time I press.

    In terms of where the bar touches the chest, does that make a difference if it is a couple of inches below the lower chest? Or am I over thinking that part?

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Bailey View Post
    Thanks for the response. Unfortunately, I don't have access to a camera to post a vid. I apprecate the advice and will try to always incorporate it every time I press.

    In terms of where the bar touches the chest, does that make a difference if it is a couple of inches below the lower chest? Or am I over thinking that part?

    What I learned, and I am by far no expert on anything, is that you want to touch so that your elbows stay in line with the bar. If you touch too high, your elbow will be out in front of the bar and it will be harder to press. I think shirted benchers touch really low, but I could be wrong about this. This rule has worked for me. I try to touch so that my elbows stay in line with the bar. As for how that relates to injuries and shoulder or elbow pain...I have no idea. Again, some of our more knowledgeable members could probably give you a better idea about this. I'm just relaying what I've learned.

  7. #6
    Westside Bencher Travis Bell's Avatar
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    Thats some good advice right there. Touching your lower chest or an inch lower isn't a probelm at all, if thats where you need to touch to keep your triceps under the bar, thats fine. Much lower than that and you might be going a little too far down, but where you are describing is fine


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  8. #7
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    I respect everything Travis says as he is a monster bencher. But, for me, and this may be related to many other things like squats with a regular bar or who knows what, but when I really try to tuck my elbows in hard I personally get tons of bicep pain in the lower and upper biceps. I get immediate pain during the eccentric and when I reverse the direction on the bench in my biceps. I have found for me that just a comfortable in the middle works better, maybe like 45 degrees or close to it. I also found that the tip of keeping your elbows pointed forward through the entire press gives me issues. After I get just above my sticking point I do much better flaring my elbows out to finish the lockout. I know this goes against the grain of everything taught now a day, but sometimes you have to experiment and see what works best for you. Understand though that I am only ~340lbs bencher so take it for what its worth, especially since I am talking from a view point of pain avoidance.

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Roark View Post
    I respect everything Travis says as he is a monster bencher. But, for me, and this may be related to many other things like squats with a regular bar or who knows what, but when I really try to tuck my elbows in hard I personally get tons of bicep pain in the lower and upper biceps. I get immediate pain during the eccentric and when I reverse the direction on the bench in my biceps. I have found for me that just a comfortable in the middle works better, maybe like 45 degrees or close to it. I also found that the tip of keeping your elbows pointed forward through the entire press gives me issues. After I get just above my sticking point I do much better flaring my elbows out to finish the lockout. I know this goes against the grain of everything taught now a day, but sometimes you have to experiment and see what works best for you. Understand though that I am only ~340lbs bencher so take it for what its worth, especially since I am talking from a view point of pain avoidance.

    I think that when people say to tuck the elbows hard, they aren't talking about tucking them all the way to your sides, which sounds like what you may be talking about. They are talking about a nice, natural tuck. Again, some of the monsters on here such as Travis, etc., would have more/better advice than me, but that is my understanding of the concept.

  10. #9
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    jbrin0tk - thanks for the advice. You may not be at Travis' level, but your advice about the elbow in line with the bar is top notch. It makes alot of sense and when I look at my form in the mirror I notice that when that happens my elbow is at a good 45 degree tuck and my shoulders are pulled back. Thanks

    Travis - thanks for the expert advice. This really helped alot. I really appreciate the advice you have given. If I get a hold of a camera I'll try to post a vid. I would really like someone with your experience to critique my technique.

    If there are any other tidbits of information out there, I'm more than willing to try it out. Thanks everyone.

  11. #10
    Westside Bencher Travis Bell's Avatar
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    Yeah Jesse has it spot on, you don't have to plant your elbows on your sides. Watch my benching videos (raw ones) and you'll see that I tuck but I don't pull them in to my sides.

    anything but sticking your elbows way out parallel to your shoulders


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  12. #11
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    Travis do you have links to your bench press vids? I would like to look at them to take a look at your benching technique.

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Bailey View Post
    jbrin0tk - thanks for the advice. You may not be at Travis' level, but your advice about the elbow in line with the bar is top notch. It makes alot of sense and when I look at my form in the mirror I notice that when that happens my elbow is at a good 45 degree tuck and my shoulders are pulled back. Thanks

    Travis - thanks for the expert advice. This really helped alot. I really appreciate the advice you have given. If I get a hold of a camera I'll try to post a vid. I would really like someone with your experience to critique my technique.

    If there are any other tidbits of information out there, I'm more than willing to try it out. Thanks everyone.

    Yes, sir, you are welcome! I'm nowhere near Travis' level...yet..., haha! Seriously, though, I've got a ways to go but I do my homework and do my best to read, study, and watch anything that has to do with technique for bench and squats as far as powerlifting goes, etc. Also, Travis has really helped me out a lot and I have to give him props for his top notch advice and willingness to help! I hope, in turn, that I have helped you, Phil!

  14. #13
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    jbrin0tk - you have helped, thanks

  15. #14
    Westside Bencher Travis Bell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Bailey View Post
    Travis do you have links to your bench press vids? I would like to look at them to take a look at your benching technique.
    Sure thing!

    A reverse band workout from our university gym

    Video


    Straight Weight bench

    Video


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  16. #15
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    Travis, thanks for posting those. You are one strong dude. I think they'll help alot. One thing noticed which may be just personal preference, is that you take your grip before you set your body. Do you find this helps you get into postion better while staying tight. I was tought to set your body then take a grip, but when I do it that way I find I have to constantly re-adjust myself to pull my shoulders back.

  17. #16
    Westside Bencher Travis Bell's Avatar
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    you're right, I do take my grip first. I get all set, and then as I'm taking the weight out, I re-adjust my arch and shoulder set up one last time so I'm completly tight. I pull my shoulders in so tight I have knots in my upper back for a couple days afterwards haha

    If I try and get my grip after setting up two things happen. The first is like you said, I mess up my set up while getting my hands right, the other is that I can't really get set up on my upper back and pull my shoulders in right without having something to hold on to.


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  18. #17
    Always listening & learnin lil' power's Avatar
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    Don't mean to hijack your thread, but I have 2 questions for Travis after watching the videos...

    1) 1st video you put on your belt after the 1st missed rep, how does that help you?

    2) How does bringing your head up on the downward motion help?

    thanks for the insight on bringing the elbows inline with the bar (anything to help my pathetic bench)

  19. #18
    THE FRIDGE! thewicked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Bell View Post
    haha sorry, I've been on the road all day long.

    Phil, sounds like you're already on the right track! The biggest thing is to tuck your elbows as you bring the bar down. You hear this alot when guys are talking about shirted benching, but not as much when guys are going raw, but I feel it is the very reason why my shoulders are pain free 99% of the time

    Pull your shoulder blades together real tight when you lay down on the bench and set yourself up on your upper back. Can you get video of your benching? Its really helpful
    travis is right on... tuck those shoulder blades together like you're trying to touch them behind you and push your upper back into the bench hard...

    the best advice I could give about keeping your elbows tight and tucked is to imagine your elbows staying pointed and moving towards your toes during the bench and you'll stay tight! it's ALWAYS worked for me..even though they won't REALLY do that.. that thought in my head tends to keep me REALLY tight..and the tighter you keep them the less chance you have for shoulder rotation and soft tissue injuries..

    hell i think even louie said that once or twelve times HAHA
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  20. #19
    Westside Bencher Travis Bell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lil' power View Post
    Don't mean to hijack your thread, but I have 2 questions for Travis after watching the videos...

    1) 1st video you put on your belt after the 1st missed rep, how does that help you?

    2) How does bringing your head up on the downward motion help?

    thanks for the insight on bringing the elbows inline with the bar (anything to help my pathetic bench)
    Good questions! The reason I put the belt on is it really helps me tighten my core by giving me something to push my abdomen against. The tighter my core is I find my leg drive is more productive as well as the speed off my chest.

    Bringing my head up is a little bit of a habit, but it also actually shortens the range of motion that my arms have to go. By rolling my shoulders forward a little bit, they dip the weight, not my arms. Not everyone I've worked with though has done well with that movement so don't take it as something you must do haha.


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  21. #20
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    Just want to thank everyone for for their help. I tried to incorporate every tip i got and it is definitely helping. I had to reduce the weight a bit to get use to the new technique. It's OK though cause I think with the changes that I'm making, the weight will go back up and then some.

  22. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Bailey View Post
    I need some advice on benching. I am 38 yrs old, have been training for 3years and have brought up my bench from 135 to 315. I used to get pain in my shoulders from time to time and though that was normal considering everything I read about powerlifting. However, when I was at the gym I was lucky enough to have an experienced powerlifter explain my shoulder pain was caused by my poor technique. I tend to flare out my elbows and the bar goes down at mid chest. He recommended for me to buy a bench pressing DVD's to learn about proper form. He was leaving the gym and couldn't help me anymore.

    I have tried to work on form and have found a comfortable spot to lower the
    bar to that allows me to stay tight and reduce tension on my
    shoulders. This spot happens to be a 1-2 inches below my lower chest,
    basically on my top ab muscle.

    My question is, is there a right place to lower the bar? Or is all
    based on personal preference as long as you are able to keep tight,
    have the bar going in a straight line, and have your arms out no more
    than 45 degrees?. I have not been able to see a video with an over
    head shot to see where others have the bar touch.

    Any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Try moving your grip in just a hair, i also had shoulder issues till i did this. Now i can bench pain free and lower the bar to a more comfortable position, as well as increasing my bench by a decient amount

  23. #22
    Iron4Life
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    Maybe not obvious... but as a 43 yr old who only started powerlifting about 2 yrs ago... I've found that besides technique, rehab & balance are equally important to staying as pain-free as possible...

    For Shoulder rehab, take a look on the WBB side for an article by Sensei.. http://www.wannabebig.com/article.php?articleid=265

    And for balance.. well, I was doing back work, but not to the intensity & heaviness that I was doing bench work... heavy rows for low reps have helped to balance out my shoulders...

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