Proper form for Bench Press

  • ajlclimber

    Posts: 337

    Feb 24, 2012 7:02 PM GMT
    My roommates and I are having a dissagreement about bench press form.

    I am under the impression that you should only go down to a 90 degree angle with your elbows.

    They are saying that you want the bar needs to touch the chest..

    Who is right?
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    Feb 24, 2012 9:16 PM GMT
    Doubtful you'll get the right answer here...however, in my opinion, it depends on what constraints you're working under.
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    Feb 24, 2012 9:22 PM GMT
    Bar to chest for full range of motion.

  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Feb 24, 2012 9:26 PM GMT
    there isn't one type of bench press... so it depends on what type you're doing.
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    Feb 24, 2012 9:27 PM GMT
    Bodybuilding.com

    Would be a more appropriate site for this question.
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    Feb 24, 2012 10:04 PM GMT
    Yes, you should ALWAYS exercise good control over the stroke. Applies to exercise and everything else, hehehe icon_twisted.gif

    But seriously, yes, control over your range of motion is important. Don't overoad to the point where you can't.
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    Feb 24, 2012 10:10 PM GMT
    yourname2000 saidI'm not a pro, but I thought it was down to the chest --without touching! The idea being that you want to be in control of the stroke both up and down. If you touch your chest, you're inserting a little break in the motion, possibly screwing up your breathing, and more likely to cheat by bouncing the weight up again with your chest rather than using your arms.

    With all of the trainers on RJ though, I hope someone speaks up with a definitive. icon_smile.gif


    ^I agree. However it depends on how you want to do bench. I know some guys that bring the grip in closer together and only go down halfway to work a different part of the chest and more of triceps.
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    Feb 24, 2012 10:12 PM GMT
    Most people will say to the chest and back up for full range of motion. But, if you have shoulder problems then 90 degrees is safer for your shoulder.

    I've tried both and I like to the chest better, I feel like I'm getting a lot more activation of my chest there.

    I think the only "bad" way to do it is to lift and only go down a few inches. Most commonly seen on youtube videos with teenagers doing 3x their body weight icon_razz.gif

    Also arching your back = bad.
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    Feb 24, 2012 10:55 PM GMT
    It should touch (not bounce off of) your chest. As other's said, if you have shoulder issues, then 90-deree is best. If you don't have shoulder issues, and you cannot touch your chest, then you're probably using too much weight.
  • nomadfornow

    Posts: 1069

    Feb 24, 2012 11:09 PM GMT
    I can vouch for the bad shoulder alternative. If I try to take the weight past 90 degrees, I get a sharp, icepick-in-the-shoulder sensation, so I don't even try anymore. Not worth the risk of injury.
  • UFJocknerd

    Posts: 392

    Feb 25, 2012 2:43 AM GMT
    ajlclimber saidMy roommates and I are having a dissagreement about bench press form.

    I am under the impression that you should only go down to a 90 degree angle with your elbows.

    They are saying that you want the bar needs to touch the chest..

    Who is right?


    Down to chest.

    Also, when you say 90' at the elbow, I bet he's flaring his arms out (i.e., arms perpendicular to body). That's incorrect--arms should tuck in a little so your elbow comes in near your side. Done right it feels like you're shoving your body away from the bar.
  • UFJocknerd

    Posts: 392

    Feb 25, 2012 2:48 AM GMT
    adam228 said

    Also arching your back = bad.


    You should arch your lower back a bit (normal lordosis) to facilitate retracting your scaps and engaging your chest more, but your ass shouldn't be leaving the bench.
  • metta

    Posts: 39133

    Feb 25, 2012 2:54 AM GMT
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    Feb 25, 2012 3:01 AM GMT
    UFJocknerd said
    adam228 said

    Also arching your back = bad.


    You should arch your lower back a bit (normal lordosis) to facilitate retracting your scaps and engaging your chest more, but your ass shouldn't be leaving the bench.


    Yah, I meant more like this:

    badbench.jpg
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    Feb 25, 2012 3:14 AM GMT
    Some good comments on here. Lift slow, don't go too heavy. Keep your shoulders and butt on the bench and your feet on the ground.

    When you lift the bar off the rack, you should pull your shoulders down and back, as if trying to flex your scapulae. That will put the emphasis on your chest and lessen shoulder involvement.
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    Feb 25, 2012 4:33 AM GMT
    Too much emphasis on arm placement. Unless you're doing some kind of strength training/powerlifting or Olympic style weightlifting where you have to rely largely on momentum and cheat/swing the weights to enable you to lift maximum poundages, only minimally engage the extremities (arms/forearms/hands; legs/calves/feet) if you're not directly training them, even if it means having to use lighter weight. When training for aesthetics/bodybuilding you need to focus on and isolate the target muscle, which greatly helps avoid swinging/cheating. For most upper body exercises this firstly means not gripping tightly if a tight grip isn't necessary for safety. When benching push primarily from the pecs instead of the arms, squeezing the pecs together when pressing up. The same thinking applies to other bodyparts. When curling let the biceps do most of the work, not the forearms. Same idea with tricep work. When doing leg curls, leg extensions or the abductor/adductor machines don't push with the feet, keep the feet and calves relaxed so they're not taking work away from the muscle the exercise is intended for. With pullups and pulldowns try to engage the lats more than the arms - picture, perhaps, pulling with your elbows instead of your hands/forearms. When rowing try to pull with (while squeezing together) your shoulder blades instead of your arms. This type of proper form might take a bit of muscle control and practice but it helps curb wasted effort and the results are well worth it.
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    Feb 25, 2012 4:53 AM GMT
    Arm placement and how low to go is debatable, and I think it largely depends on how you're built. But these things are always true...

    - Natural arch in your back. Imagine that there's an egg between your lower back and the bench. Don't crush the "egg" during the bench press movement. And keep your ass planted on the bench.

    - Pinch your shoulders back. Avoid slouching/rounding your shoulders forward.

    - Keep both feet planted on the floor. It helps keep your balance, and you can use it as leverage if you get stuck along the way.

    - Don't slam the bar to your chest and bounce it up. I see way too much of that at the gym.
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    Feb 25, 2012 5:04 AM GMT
    When I bench I bring the bar all the way down to my chest. However I took the AFAA certified personal trainer workshop a couple weeks ago and in there they tell you not to let your elbows dip beneath your shoulders because it places excessive strain on your shoulders. But how many guys do you actually see doing that?
  • Hunkymonkey

    Posts: 215

    Feb 26, 2012 11:04 AM GMT
    I am not a bench press fan. I think it's an awkward movement, not particularly good for the joints, and that there are better chest exercises to achieve results. Dumbbell presses, however, are quite good, as is hammer strength. I use very low angle incline presses and heavily weighted dips or decline presses.
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    Feb 26, 2012 11:21 AM GMT
    I'm with HunkyMonkey -- better to ditch the bar and use dumbbells instead. Better movement, shapes the muscles better.

    However, that said. Your forearms should be perpendicular to the bar -- otherwise, there's leverage issues that could cause an injury.
  • abramroyy

    Posts: 1

    Apr 18, 2012 5:18 AM GMT

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