T Nation

Bench issues


Okay, I was maxing today, and discovered that my weakness was coming off my chest. No suprise there, that was the same weakness last time. However, this time it is the first inch or two off my chest that is the problem, as opposed to 4 or 5 inches, so I'm making some progress there. My main issue is my speed off the chest. I just don't think I'm fast enough, and my main problem is that I'm decelerating on my descent to avoid bouncing the bar off off my body. Should I go ahead and bounce it? My current form has me touching the bar down, lightly, and then raising it. And I'm pretty sure that trying to control the descent is what is hurting me here. Any suggestions?


No, you don't "bounce" the bar off your chest. Let's say you begin to increase the load and you're still doing the bounce thing - what do you think may happen to your sternum. Not good. And not good to begin poor form just because you have a weak spot.

What you need to do is read. Read Dave Tate's brilliant "Eight Keys". As well as any of his benching articles.


Here's something that has helped me. My weak spot is at the chest.

I bring the bar down, hold it at the chest, my training partner counts to 3 and at "3", I explode it up.

I may have misinterpreted your post: you really don't mean to "bounce" the bar from your chest, do you? You mean to bring the bar down, have it touch your chest, pause and then you push it back up. Please, tell me this is what you meant.


patricia i think he is talking about a raw "touch and go bench press"- instead of a powerlifting pause press, if he is bouncing the bar he knows it and is disgusted with hims self...he doesnt have to ask lol... the touch and go is the best way to bench if you plan to bench press completely raw, if you plan to bench press in a shirt then the shirt will do its work and will help you pause by stabilizing you and forcing the bar to slow on the down path, but i have a feeling you are going to be benching raw..if this is the case your sticking point is caused by speed and it seems you are having trouble transfering the bar weight to your triceps, these are both fixed very easy -do a shit load of foam presses, 1 board presses, 2 board presses,rev band presses, on max effort days and if you dont have mini bands for speed bench GET SOME and use them in a week wave on speed bench day... i like to use 2 weeks on 1 week off, also something that has helped me with by speed is lowering the bar weight into the 20-40% range and using lots of band tension, some people dont like this idea but it has really worked for me..you must train for speed if you plan to bench raw i feel it is even more important for a raw bench press....speed and triceps are a benchers best freind, shirted or raw it just dont matter.......big martin


if you are having problems off your chest, then you are too slow or you arent staying tight in the bottom or both.


Patricia-Martin was right, I didn't express myself very well. Goldberg- I suspect that it's both which is my problem, so I'll be working on that. Martin- Thanks for the tips, I will be ordering some mini-bands tomorrow. Yes, I am benching raw, you were right. I take it that foam presses are exactly what they sound like? A piece of foam on the chest to slow/absorb the bar speed?


Yea for foam presses get yourself one of those huge swiming pool noodles at walamart. thats what i use...big martin


Big Martin
thanks you've answered one of the questions that has bugged me for so long. I always felt intuitively that touch and go was the way to train bench raw.

Also does the shirts' tension at the bottom help off the chest?

And also only just started doing boards for my ME and my max is 10% higher for 2 boards than my flat bench. If there anything to be learnt from this?


yes the bench shirt tension does help off the chest but this is very dependent on how the shirt fits and how damn good you are at using it,

your 2 board is perfect at 10% this means that you are good at transfering the weigth into your triceps, now as you as you get faster off the chest at transfering the weight into the triceps youll 2 board max will become your raw max..see how it works,... i would say you need to start hitting up 1 board presses also.. as they helped me learn to transfer the weight into my triceps early on in my denim shirt and it will help a raw bencher learn to transfer the weight early into his triceps also,...now the low board presses 1&2 go in correlation with your building up of overloading tricep strength and that isnt built with extensions and push downs..you have to bang the hell out of 3-4-5 board presses and high pin lock outs as asseccory work this will over load the triceps and make any weight transfer whether you bench raw or in a shirt it dosent matter and dont let anyone say it does- speed and triceps are a benchers best freind raw or shirted...big martin


The only other thing I will add...btw, I am roached tonight and didn't have the patience to thoroughly read all responses, so if I'm being redundant forgive me. I notice people with the problem you describe are not "setting" their shoulders before they initiate the decent and are not in a habit of pushing their chest up to the bar. When you scoop the bar out of the rack (never press it out) you should lock your elbows and then squeeze your shoulder blades together roll them down towards your pelvis before you start the decent. This will prime you to drive your chest up as the bar comes down. Also, are you thinking about leg drive? Everything has to be tight to transfer speed off the chest. Good Luck.


I am trying to keep everything tight and initiate leg drive. The real problem is that I work out at school, with no real training partners of experience, so I don't have a coach who can spot those problems. Trying to troubleshoot on my own is tough, especially as I myself am still learning the proper method.


big martin,

OK....now I'm confused....I bench raw...

I pause on my chest, and then try to explode (depending on wight) the concentric.

Why is "touch and go" best for raw benchers?? Isn't this shitty form?


when i mean touch and go i mean not bouncing and not takeing a long pause and ruining your tightness and haveing the weight being absorbed and loosing the stretch reflex, benching raw the best thing to do is lower the bar as fast as you can under control touch the chest and go...a bench shirt helps you pause and as louie simmons says the pause and press comand is only a stupid powerlifting rule...most raw bench federations and raw bench meets are touch n go any ways...the pause you see in a bench shirt can not be duplicated raw...for a raw bencher looking to bench the most weight touch n go is the way to go, just duplicate your dyanmic bench form when benching raw....big martin


I hear ya, Paul. Honestly, the injuries I deal with now on a recurring basis (primarily shoulders) I incurred in the first 2 years of training by being stupid. Overtraining, bad form, too much concern with impressing other people, etc. I got started with Muscle and Fiction. From my perspective, it's great to see you on the forum asking questions. The main thing I will remind you is that you do not learn good form under heavy weight. Speed work is great, but only if you have learned to do the movement the same way every time. (This is a relative term because if you have a good training partner they will always smack up on you for something.) Before even focusing on speed, get tight and consistent in form. I know this seems simplistic, but try to figure out where people with serious goals are training in your area. Get a punch card, pay the initial single visit fees, whatever, and check it out. Even better, go to a PL meet. Even if you don't have aspirations of powerlifting, at least you will encounter some folks that don't need a map to find their ass. I guarantee you will find somebody willing to help. You have to seek out strong people doing things right. They don't always find you. Best of luck.