T Nation

Beginner Looking to Build Chest


#1

Hey, I've been lifting for about a year and a half now, and all of my lifts are looking pretty good. Plus the muscle I've built has been pretty on par as far as I know. But, I can't bench for anything because of shoulder and elbow issues. I've heard alot mixed reviews about benching and other free weight exercises that target chest.

Can I get some opinions on it? I want to get a fuller and stronger chest, but don't want to injury myself any further. Thanks


#2

Dumbbells.


#3

And cables or rings.


#4

[quote]jonnysimons18 wrote:
I’ve heard alot mixed reviews about benching and other free weight exercises that target chest.

I want to get a fuller and stronger chest, but don’t want to injury myself any further.[/quote]
It physically hurt to read ^this^

Maybe try distance running.


#5

At forty Im one big injury, left shoulders been seperated, and rebuilt twice, my right hand was literaly crushed flat, than rebuilt with pins, and a cable that runs down from my elbow, and I still bench. None of my injuries are training related, I`ve just learned to work around them.

Now you have no excuses OK. Its been said here lots, so Ill repeat it, for healthy shoulders press like a PLer, and train you back like a BBer. Find Dave Tates series So you think you can bench, learn to stay tight, narrow grip, bring the bar low on your chest, or upper abs. The reasons bench is known for injury, is because the BBing style of wide grip benching high on the chest, or throat. You can get hit by a car crossing the street, but you still do it, just carefully. Same with benching, don`t let fear hold back your progress. Learn proper form, and be carefull. 2cents


#6

1 more vote for Dumbbells, cables, and Rings. All of those resistance tools allow your wrists, elbows, and shoulders to move in a more “natural” (in this case that means hopefully pain free) path of motion. They will all also strengthen up your stabilizing muscles more effectively than Barbell benching (which may be a reason why your shoulders are hurting/have been injured in the past).

If heavy weights bother you or you have a hard time recruiting your chest while pressing, then I’d suggest doing some pre-exhaustion prior to working your chest so you don’t have to use as heavy of a weight to get a good training effect.

John Meadows has some great articles right here on T-Nation which address working around injuries/staying healthy while still being able to really hammer the desired muscles. I’d go read those if I were you.

Good luck.


#7

I agree with Sentoguy. Personally my favorite per-exhaustion exercise are dumbbell flies.


#8

Thank you for the advice guys. I’ve just been weary about the bench since my friends told me to stay away from it. It’s good to have sound advice considering my friends don’t do any strength training just strict BB routines. I’ll work on it seriously now so I can get on par with my other major lifts.


#9

Thanks guys. Yeah I’ve just been weary about it, because of some bad advice from BB friends. I haven’t let fear keep me away from heavy DL or squats so I should be able to get my bench up. Thanks for all the resources. Knowledge is power.


#10

Well, to be perfectly honest, if you do have legitimate shoulder injuries and don’t plan to Power Lift, then there really is no reason why you need to perform barbell bench presses. In fact, many people find that Dumbbells provide better chest development, far less pain, a better range of motion, and due to the more “natural”/ergonomic path of motion and greater stabilizer strength built with them there tends to be a lower risk/propensity for injury.


#11

Yeah, I’m going to try to get perfect form down on the bench to see if doing it right puts my shoulders at ease. I don’t want to compete in power lifting but I would like to put big numbers on my major lifts, y’know?


#12

[quote]JLone wrote:

[quote]jonnysimons18 wrote:
I’ve heard alot mixed reviews about benching and other free weight exercises that target chest.

I want to get a fuller and stronger chest, but don’t want to injury myself any further.[/quote]
It physically hurt to read ^this^

Maybe try distance running. [/quote]

Why? The OP posted his question in the Beginners forum, prefaced his question with “beginner looking for…” He’ looking for help from experienced folks, and he gets this…

Seems like a dick response to me.


#13

[quote]AliveAgain36 wrote:

[quote]JLone wrote:

[quote]jonnysimons18 wrote:
I’ve heard alot mixed reviews about benching and other free weight exercises that target chest.
I want to get a fuller and stronger chest, but don’t want to injury myself any further.[/quote]
It physically hurt to read ^this^
Maybe try distance running. [/quote]
Why? The OP posted his question in the Beginners forum, prefaced his question with “beginner looking for…” He’ looking for help from experienced folks, and he gets this…

Seems like a dick response to me.[/quote]
I guess I expect people to show some semblance of research before posting questions. If the OP would have said he read a couple articles on shoulder pain (this site has many) and has already tried dumbbell and cable work but the pain persists I would have tried to help even looked at a video and analysed his form.

If you want to help the OP then help, if you want to go around critiquing other people posts… good luck.


#14

[quote]JLone wrote:

[quote]AliveAgain36 wrote:

[quote]JLone wrote:

[quote]jonnysimons18 wrote:
I’ve heard alot mixed reviews about benching and other free weight exercises that target chest.
I want to get a fuller and stronger chest, but don’t want to injury myself any further.[/quote]
It physically hurt to read ^this^
Maybe try distance running. [/quote]
Why? The OP posted his question in the Beginners forum, prefaced his question with “beginner looking for…” He’ looking for help from experienced folks, and he gets this…

Seems like a dick response to me.[/quote]
I guess I expect people to show some semblance of research before posting questions. If the OP would have said he read a couple articles on shoulder pain (this site has many) and has already tried dumbbell and cable work but the pain persists I would have tried to help even looked at a video and analysed his form.

If you want to help the OP then help, if you want to go around critiquing other people posts… good luck.
[/quote]

Fair enough. Not really critiquing your post, just wanted to understand your perspective as it seemed kinda dick to me, but I am new this site myself so trying to learn the best way to ask for help.

I was somewhat interested in the sorts of responses he would get as I want to prevent shoulder problems as well. There is just so much shit out there such as how the guillotine press is ‘one of the best’ chest builders there is, but you have to really flare your elbows to be effective - which goes against everything you hear about preserving your shoulders. It’s hard to sift through it all…

This site seems like one of the better places to come for help - all I guess I was trying to say, but the dude got flamed. Just trying to learn I guess…


#15

[quote]AliveAgain36 wrote:
I was somewhat interested in the sorts of responses he would get as I want to prevent shoulder problems as well. There is just so much shit out there such as how the guillotine press is ‘one of the best’ chest builders there is, but you have to really flare your elbows to be effective - which goes against everything you hear about preserving your shoulders. It’s hard to sift through it all…
[/quote]
I have never heard of the Guillotine Press but I googled it.

After watching the video I won’t be doing it, looks like an accident waiting to happen.

If you are dead set on trying it I would go super lightweight.


#16

[quote]JLone wrote:
I have never heard of the Guillotine Press but I googled it.

After watching the video I won’t be doing it, looks like an accident waiting to happen.

If you are dead set on trying it I would go super lightweight.

[/quote]

People don’t understand that Vince Gironda used the guillotine press in supersets with dips, all of it done with short rest and perfect form. If you’ve pre-exhausted your pecs and use, say, 90 pounds on the GP with perfect form - then it will be effective and safe for many people. However, since these parameters are rarely met… Better safe than sorry.

People forget that achieving a muscular body isn’t worth destroying your frame in the process - much less is it necessary.


#17

WOW, Arnold, Haney, Ronnie, they’re all body builder’s not power lifter’s, wonder what they were all doing spending years getting really strong at the bench, Oh Ya, it builds huge pecs, three of the biggest chests the sport has ever seen. I guess they didn’t read Tnation, or they would have realized they didn’t have to bench. They could just pre exhaust with some cable cross overs, and then some dumb bell bench, (being carefull not to strain, stretch, or hurt they’re fragile little bodies) for real huge chests.

  The OP didn't say he had an injury, he just heard the bench was dangerous, and he was scared he might hurt himself. I'm with Jlone, except I think the OP might be a little fragile to take up running.

    Lee Haney's chest routine; Bench press 4x10, incline press4x10, dips-supersetted with-flyes3x10-15 (alternate first two moves everyother week) Oh by the way he got this routine from Arnold, the same routine a million BBer's have used over the last 30 years, I guess I missed the part where all they're arms fell off. Sounds like were talking about BBing for metrosexuals, guys that wax they're eyebrows before they go to the gym.

    If you have a pre exsisting condition like torn rotator, than you might not want to bench, but I've been a trainer for 20yrs, and when taught  "proper form" very few in 20yrs it turned out couldn't bench. I have a 72yr lady who's worked up to 65lbs on the real free weight bench, but she's not trying to look like Justin Bieber, I heard he built his huge pecs without benching, so I guess there's hope.

#18

[quote]AnytimeJake wrote:
WOW, Arnold, Haney, Ronnie, they’re all body builder’s not power lifter’s, wonder what they were all doing spending years getting really strong at the bench, Oh Ya, it builds huge pecs, three of the biggest chests the sport has ever seen. I guess they didn’t read Tnation, or they would have realized they didn’t have to bench. They could just pre exhaust with some cable cross overs, and then some dumb bell bench, (being carefull not to strain, stretch, or hurt they’re fragile little bodies) for real huge chests.
The OP didn’t say he had an injury, he just heard the bench was dangerous, and he was scared he might hurt himself. I’m with Jlone, except I think the OP might be a little fragile to take up running.
Lee Haney’s chest routine; Bench press 4x10, incline press4x10, dips-supersetted with-flyes3x10-15 (alternate first two moves everyother week) Oh by the way he got this routine from Arnold, the same routine a million BBer’s have used over the last 30 years, I guess I missed the part where all they’re arms fell off. Sounds like were talking about BBing for metrosexuals, guys that wax they’re eyebrows before they go to the gym.
If you have a pre exsisting condition like torn rotator, than you might not want to bench, but I’ve been a trainer for 20yrs, and when taught “proper form” very few in 20yrs it turned out couldn’t bench. I have a 72yr lady who’s worked up to 65lbs on the real free weight bench, but she’s not trying to look like Justin Bieber, I heard he built his huge pecs without benching, so I guess there’s hope.[/quote]

Feel better now that you got that off your chest (pun intended)?

Good. Now hopefully you can step down off your soap box and engage in an actual discussion about the OP’s original post instead of just talking at everyone.

Go back and re-read the original post in the thread. In it the OP wrote, “But, I can’t bench for anything due to shoulder and elbow issues.” He then ends the post with, “I want to get a fuller and stronger chest, but don’t want to injure myself any FURTHER (capitalized for emphasis).”

Tell me how you would interpret that post other than that the OP has shoulder issues and was looking for a way to work around them while still building his chest? Could it be a form/technical issue that could be remedied by simply adjusting his benching mechanics? Absolutely could be. But since he wasn’t specific and none of us are actually with him at the gym to watch him bench to know that, we have him methods which erred on the side of caution/his saftey and are still effective for his goals.

Now, later he stated that his buddies had scared him off from flat benching (which again, may or may not be the right course of action in his individual case), so in retrospect it’s possible that giving him form advice may have also been appropriate, but that wasn’t in his original question/post.

Now, in regards to benching in general for building the pecs… Being a trainer for 20 years has likely taught you that not all people are put together exactly the same way. So, while heavy flat benching may have worked well for Arnold, Haney, and Ronnie, but there are plenty of others who’s chests do not respond well to barbell benching, or who run into issues down the road performing them. Following your line of thought, barbell back squats are the best quad builders as Platz and Ronnie both did them hard and heavy and had some of the biggest legs in the history of Bodybuilding. Yet, Arnie squatted just the same and his legs weren’t even close. Yates on the other hand decided to listen to his body and find what worked for him (which consequently turned out to be leg presses) instead of being a slave to BB’ing Dogma and wound up blowing Arnie out of the water.

Could Armie have matched the likes of Platz or Coleman in terms of leg development had he experimented with different leg training protocols? No, probably not as everyone has body parts which are naturally “strong” and others that are naturally “weaker” (from a development standpoint). But then that also makes using guys who naturally have great MMC in a given muscle and can get away with simply hammering the basic compound movements and develop optimally from it as a reason why others “must/should” follow suit not the best idea.

I could see if people were actually telling the OP to use cross overs exclusively, but that’s not even close to the case here.


#19

Get a coach, learn proper form on the 5-8 big compound lifts (including bench) and I’ll bet you go through a life time with no problems. I see guys butcher the big lifts every day in the gym, in fact I see more wrong lifting than right. In my first post I gave some good advice, that was ignored."" If your car was stuck in the snow, and you had to push it out, would you put your hands 4ft apart, and push from your throat “” NO you wouldn’t. ““You would put your hands about 12-16inches apart, and push from your sternum”” so why don’t people bench like this, it’s so simple.

Forget idiot BBing writer’s or genetic freaks, take an empty bar, and close your eyes, do what feels natural. Thats all I’m trying to say, so maney people I’ve trained over the years have excuses why they can’t do one big exercise or another, and once I show them “proper form” the’re like wow that feels right, I can’t believe I’ve been avoiding this.

So for a kid that wants to becomne a BBer, leaving out or avoiding certain big exercises out of fear, is leaving alot of gains on the table. OP certain exercises like , Dips(with your hands on a bench behind you)upright rows, presses, and pulls behind your neck are alot more dangerous to your shoulders. I truely believe this could be fixed by a good trainer(hard to find) teaching you, but I’ve already said that. goodluck, I’m done


#20

Well thanks everybody. Wasn’t expecting so much responses. I’ve learned alot from Dave Tates series “So you think I can bench”. I just need to incorporate my whole body, and stay tight all over. I plan to incorporate dumbbells as well as perfecting my form with the bench press. Not feeling the shoulder flare up when when I change my center of gravity, and keep my back, torso, and legs tight.
Thanks again guys. Hopefully I will get that big bench, and chest, soon.