T Nation

BB Row & Bench Press Relationship

So, I’ve read many times from people - and probably some articles, too - that your Bench Press should be around the same kind of weight as your BB row for a certain number of reps (for example, BP 5RM should be approximately equal to BB Row 5RM).

This usually comes up when some new guy, looking for help, states his Bench Press, and it turns out to be a lot higher than his BB Row. I have it the other way round.

Today I did 275lbs x 7 for BB Row (actually did about 10 reps but 7 for an actual proper set, I guess). My bench is as low as about 205lbs for 6 reps (I came back the next week and only managed maybe 3 or 4, so I’ve currently swapped BP out).

Anyway, that is what I would consider a fairly big difference. Now, I’m wondering if:

a) I should really worry about this AT ALL. I mean, is the BB Row = Bench Press thing just to stop people becoming bench bitches without putting at least decent time into their back also?

b) My BB Row form isn’t quite strict enough. My Bench Press is too strict. This needs a bit of a story though.

So around a month ago, I was doing very light BB Rows, trying to keep very strict form. Then Mr Popular posted up some “beginner goal weights” thing someone’s thread, and I was like “fuck this, I’m doing 225lbs baby”. My form was pretty awful, and over the next 2 weeks it didn’t really get any better or easier (I increased the weight a little as I thought it might help me find the 225lbs a bit easier - actually, maybe it was longer than 2 weeks, 4 max though).

Last week, I did the same thing again (“fuck this”) and added a half plate on each side. Only did 2 reps. This week I did 7 with better form imo. 225lbs x 10 was actually one of my ramping sets today, and it was easy. Good form and it felt light.

So, I guess I just convinced myself that doing that obviously works.

Now, my Bench Press. I like to think I keep pretty good form here, and I come down to the chest every time - mini question: should my elbows come below the bench? I think I read somewhere that they shouldn’t, so touching the chest shouldn’t necessarily be the indicator of whether or not you went low enough, and I’m also thinking, perhaps this is why powerlifters tuck their elbows (so that they can touch their chest without their elbows getting too low, which would make the lift harder).

Ideally, I’d like to do for Bench what I’ve done for my Rows, but I just don’t know how to cheat here. Should I just not come down as much? I don’t want to turn it into a triceps exercise, and end up making it harder for me to fatigue the chest in future because triceps simply take over the movement. Bouncing? Honestly, I don’t think bouncing makes a huge different at all.

Ideas anyone? What are other peoples experiences?

My row is heavier than my bench, but that’s because of the sports I’m involved in (rock climbing, Parkour, gymnastics) are very pull-heavy.

As far as the bench goes, I’m a powerlift-sort-of-guy, so I tuck my elbows and I don’t consider the bench press to be a chest exercise. If you honestly want to hit the chest well, you’re going to choose a different exercise, anyway. If you care about getting your lift heavier, then yeah, turn it into a triceps-dominant exercise. It’s still chest off the bottom, anyhow.