T Nation

Bench Depth

Right now I do not bench all the way so that the bar bounces off my chest. After I warm up I can get close to my chest, probably about 5" away.

I’ve been trying to push heavier weights which for me is bodyweight + 10-30%,I’m 150.

Should I refocus on depth and are there any suggestion to getting there.

BTW-I am much more an endurance guy who can rip off sets of pushups between rounds of jumprope.

5" away? Jesus! That’s not ‘close’ by anyone’s definition.

Working in that upper range, you’re really doing almost no work for your chest at all. All tris.

So, yes, work on depth. Chances are you’re just using too much weight, like the ubiquitous idiot who can “squat 500”, and has never done anything more than an 1/8th squat in his life.

i always bench till the bar “touches” my chest. I don’t think you should ever be bouncing it off your chest unless you want to break your sternum. What kind of grip are you using? If it is too close or too wide that might be stopping you from going all the way down. I’m sure some stretching wouldn’t hurt either. As far as what you should do, i don’t really know. I personally like to go all the way down but I won’t tell you its the wrong thing not to. But 5 inches might be a little much though, cut that down to at least 2-3 if you are not going to touch.

Do you stay 5" away from the ground when you do pushups?

Unless there’s a particular reason why you don’t come close to your chest, ie training purposes, having trouble with lock outs, or pain… you should probably low the weight and get the form right.

What is it that you hope to accomplish?

Do you want to get stronger? Bigger?

Once you figure this out, then you can determine what you need to do next.

I can tell you already that you’re gonna need to learn to get that bar all the way down to your chest.

For sure, touch your chest. In fact, when I was younger, I used a cambered bar allowing me to go much deeper. That was stupid, I’m sure, and the only caveat I can think of is, be sure to warm up due to the full range of motion. I see ‘partials’ all the time; from 1/2 curls to squats to 1/2 pull-ups. Aggravating.

How can anybody be this inflexible.

Goldberg, alot of people “train” themselves into this inflexible hole. It’s due to the ego: gotta lift heavy; at any cost.

Dude, lighten the load; bring the bar down; DO NOT bounce it off your sternum; hold for a count of 1 (or 3), and press it up.

In the meantime, read any articles on the bench in T-Mag by Dave Tate (Westside).

How’s your assistant mover strengths? Triceps? Delts? Lats?

I’d even go fairly wide and let the bar rest on your chest for a deep stretch. You should be within an inch of your chest. You should be below the height of your shoulders on an incline press, unless you have shoulder problems. Use CT’s shoulder box or a cuban rotation before lifting, for a warmup. I’d start off with around 70% of what you are lifting now and go for the full range of motion. You should be able to do this, if not lower it even more. You might want to do some flys to supplement your bench as well seeing as how your triceps are probably doing all the work. Low cable pully press will also help isolate your pecs.

It may be a flexability issue, I don’t stretch and haven’t for 20+ years. Yes, i can do sets of 15 pull-ups.

I’ll lower the weights and post a progress report.

FitNForty - Patricia and RS said it best… I used to fall into the same ole habits until I started to lighten the load and started taking stretching seriously, so I speak from experience and I would definitely give these a try.

Don’t listen to Goldberg and his snide, know it all remarks about how he can’t believe someone is that inflexible. I think as of late, based on several of his other responses he’s a little too high on his horse. Goldie, why don’t you share with us some of your stretching techniques before you rip phone books in half and post them on t-mag, you dink!

Wow, got you there, Goldberg.

Don’t you feel bad now?

Goldie-I ran 7 miles this morning in 52 minutes and do this 3x week. You?

No squats or deads…either

Oh boy, here we go…


Wow, Goldie, he ripped on your ass like you ripped on that phone book.

There is no simple answer to this complex question. Also, since I am not a lifetime bench presser I will probably get cussed out for this response. So, here goes:
Bench depth is dependant upon several things; performance goal, aestethic goal, past or present shoulder injuries, current shoulder girdle strength, and the passive elasticity of the joint capsule surrounding the glenohumeral joints. If your goal is to improve maximal strength for performance purposes (bench pressing competition), then you must train in the manner that mimics the sport or movement. For hypertrophy of the pectoralis musculature, granted you haven’t had any shoulder injuries, the bar is lowered to a point where there is a slight stretch in the in the insertion point of the pectoralis. If you lie back on a bench and hold a dowel or a stick with no weight, lower your arms as in a bench press motion, you’ll notice the bar will only travel as far as the joint capsule (ligament-tendon construction with several nerve innervations) will allow it to go passively (without additional external resistance forcing a highr joint angle). If you do this, the bar should be around 2-4 inches from the chest. With additional weight the bar may need to be slightly above these measurements to further protect the joint capsules. As far as muscle recruitment, any lower than the passive limit of the the shoulder, the emphasis is placed on the anterior-medial deltoids and the triceps because the pectorals, at their point of insertion along the humerus, will be stretched to the point where they will not have “eccentric control” of resistance. Again, if your goal is to increase bench pressing strength, going beyond that passive point is key. For everything else it doesn’t appear to to require going beyond that limit set by the joint capsule. I hope this helps.

The fact of the matter is, the best way to work a muscle (or group of muscles) is with a full ROM. In the case of the bench press, a full ROM would mean bringing the bar to the farthest point it can go down (your chest).

fitnforty, when was the last time you had a Max Effort Squat day? A Dynamic Effort Bench day?

Don’t go walking around like you’re hot shit just because you’re more “fitness minded” then some of us are.

Goldberg’s goals are to be able to lift heavy weights. Running 5 miles a day in short shorts with $200 Reeboks isn’t going to help improve his bench press.

"Goldie-I ran 7 miles this morning in 52 minutes and do this 3x week. You?

No squats or deads…either "

Watch out Goldberg, this guys got your number… I know he has permanently scarred your Phsyche.

Will you ever recover?

I’m with Goldberg. Not being flexible enough to touch your chest with the bar is friggin’ weird.

I say UP the load so much that you don’t have a choice. I.E. 200% of your 1RM. That’ll teach those stiff muscles.