T Nation

Bench Form Feels Off

For the last few months my form has felt a little off, and I had no idea why. So tonight I went into the gym and something clicked, I found that when I started my decent, I would squeeze my shoulder blades together, but, at the same time I would almost shrug my shoulders up, rather than down. I feel I taught myself to do this because I was trying to keep my upper back as tight as possible.

So I was just wondering if anyone else has experienced this problem, or maybe had some thoughts/ideas on how to correct this. Ive been doing it for a long time, and it has almost totally changed the way I bench (in a bad way).

My plan is to to just practice this every time I get under the bar, and re-teach myself.

I try to have the pressure from my leg drive dictate where my scaps should go, so as i press my legs i let my shoulders sink closer to my legs, by default.

Give this a try before benching… i did it the other day and getting my torso position for bench was WAY easier. got some nice bruises on my traps but it helped. The first mob w the weight, that it, try both if you want tho.

Also, i cant imagine you have any tightness in your lats w your scaps shifted up like that? Practice using those lats like you should be, they will help the scaps stay down too

[quote]VTTrainer wrote:
I try to have the pressure from my leg drive dictate where my scaps should go, so as i press my legs i let my shoulders sink closer to my legs, by default.

Give this a try before benching… i did it the other day and getting my torso position for bench was WAY easier. got some nice bruises on my traps but it helped. The first mob w the weight, that it, try both if you want tho.

Also, i cant imagine you have any tightness in your lats w your scaps shifted up like that? Practice using those lats like you should be, they will help the scaps stay down too[/quote]
So, do you use leg drive during the concentric phase of the lift? I generally just drive with my feet during the eccentric phase.

http://www.T-Nation.com/strength-training-topics/bottom-up-bench-press-from-pins

At about the 23 second mark, Thibs makes the point of ‘shrugging’ your traps up. So some people actually teach this point.

From a personal perspective: Benching is my weakest move and my most technically poor exercise. But over the past couple of months i have really been focusing on how to create consistency within the movement. Here are a couple notes from that:

As i set up, i start at my feet placement. I have narrowed my stance and started the movement from my heels, as opposed to pulling my feet under me and arching from my toes. By starting from my heels with a narrower stance, i am able to solidify my base and generate more drive into my upper back. This helps me because i am a not short, and do not have great hip flexor and groin mobility, so i had no power from a wider base.

When i grip the bar, i start with my initial hand position at a close grip bench, index finger on the smooth part. At this grip position, i get my upper back tight, and can begin forcing my traps into the bench for proper position (contrary to the Thibs video above, i do not shrug. I try to get my scaps and pelvis as close together as possible, back and down). I then work my hand position to my bench grip from the inside out. This was the critical change, as i can maintain an ultra tight upper back without losing tension. When i tried to get tight by just gripping the bar regular from the onset, i could never get tight enough, and got splattered at the bottom. Working from inside out helped me maintain greater tightness as a unracked the bar, Inside out gripping immediatley led to better lifts and a greater consistency.

I don’t lift with a spot. So I have a hard time keeping tight on lift off. Recently after lift off I have made more of an effort to squeeze my traps together. Almost immediately my lifts felt lighter. The only problem I have as the weight increases I have a harder time squeezing my traps together with the bar over my head. But I have felt the tighter my traps the lower my shoulders were and the stronger I was. Just my observation.

[quote]dwfox wrote:
http://www.T-Nation.com/strength-training-topics/bottom-up-bench-press-from-pins

At about the 23 second mark, Thibs makes the point of ‘shrugging’ your traps up. So some people actually teach this point.[/quote]

Thib also makes no explanation of why he wants you to shrug during a bench press, and given that I have little respect for him, I wouldn’t listen to his advice on benching big weights.

[quote]dwfox wrote:
http://www.T-Nation.com/strength-training-topics/bottom-up-bench-press-from-pins

At about the 23 second mark, Thibs makes the point of ‘shrugging’ your traps up. So some people actually teach this point.
[/quote]
This is fucking retarded. If he knew anything about anatomy he would NEVER say that… I lost all respect for this ‘guru’ when he said that. If you want to ruin your shoulders, have at it.

[quote]Loftearmen wrote:

[quote]VTTrainer wrote:
I try to have the pressure from my leg drive dictate where my scaps should go, so as i press my legs i let my shoulders sink closer to my legs, by default.

Give this a try before benching… i did it the other day and getting my torso position for bench was WAY easier. got some nice bruises on my traps but it helped. The first mob w the weight, that it, try both if you want tho.

Also, i cant imagine you have any tightness in your lats w your scaps shifted up like that? Practice using those lats like you should be, they will help the scaps stay down too[/quote]
So, do you use leg drive during the concentric phase of the lift? I generally just drive with my feet during the eccentric phase.[/quote]

I drive the entire time, but a little less during the descent, id say like 80% then 100%. leg drive has been a big part of my pressing power so i dont wanna go from 0-100%, you know? It also lets me know how my hips are going to move if i drive with everything i have, meaning if im tight or my foot position is a little off then i know i cant drive much more without my ass rising up off the bench

Thanks for the responses.

I am not sure why Thib suggests shrugging the shoulders, It does infact make your back “tighter” but he fails to mention that this puts your body in a position to touch the bar higher on the chest, which is exactly what I have been doing, and I believe this has led to a few shoulder/elbow problems.

The last few bench workouts have been dedicated to form and form alone, and im noticing some serious flaws within my technique. I found that when I squeeze my shoulder blades together and down, rather than up, the weights fly up. But this seems to be a hit and miss thing… my body almost instinctively wants to shrug my shoulder blades up, which is something ive been fighting and very hard to do.

This is some pretty basic shit that I seem to have totally ignored. Why? I have no idea, but im ready to get my form as near perfect as possible and start moving some more weight…

Get stronger. That way, even if you get out of position, you can still get the lift through sheer muscle and force of will. You don’t get style points for “perfect” form on the platform.

The shrugged shoulder lets your rotators and some other things spring load (read grind as well) the weight, and the body always wants the mechanical advantage.

mwod the hell out of those rotators, check for capsular issues (distractions) and in general make sure that you work anything else for this specific problem w the scaps back and down. If you cant keep everything in place, grab some bands (stormthebeach did a neat little article on scapular stuff on elitefts.com a while back, check that out, he’s a big strong mofo)