T Nation

Bench Press Elbow Position


Yes i know this is a little redundant of a subject.

   ok here goes, i switched from elbows flared position and worked on getting more of a power lifters tucked position and i have to say that it definitely helps with my shoulder pains.

but from what ive read they say that it doesn't really hit the chest. i have a hard time reading this because it seems to work my chest to a great extent , maybe in a different way though.
and everyone says PL dont have good chests but im like wtf their chest are gigantic.
and ive even seen branch warren somewhere doing them with his elbows tucked.
is there anyone else on here who tucks there elbows while Benching who still gets good results with the chest? i also seem to get a good chest pump from neutral grip dumbbell presses as well.
just wanted to start a discussion and maybe get some feedback from others who've used both styles.


My chest still get DOMS from tucked elbows.

Probably would be less if I followed the PL advice to pull the bar apart (with triceps) rather than squeezing inwards...


I tuck my elbows (along with other PL cues) purely for safety while I try to progress to 3pps. when strength in the bench press becomes less of a focus and size more so, I imagine I'll use different positions (elbows flared, wide grip), different ROM (bottom half ROM) or use db's in an effort to stimulate my chest more.


I think volume of bodypart training is more important here (than just exercise technique alone). Bodybuilders tend to do more exercises amongst other things.

Some who're into their 'power-building' do their power moves powerlifting style, then finish off with more bodybuilding style stuff.

Personally, I get better pec stimulation from flared elbows and not going 100% down. My shoulders still hold me back when doing it PL style, so in the end, they hold back (weakest link) my pec development...but that's me.


Edited that for you!


I?ve had shoulder issues for 2 years now, pretty much gave up on being able to flat bench again but with elbows tight i can now bench with no pain. And still feel it in my chest, i then do the same as you db press neutral grip, as i find this more comfortable, moderate weight but more sets/reps no lock out. If you have developed good mind muscle connection I think you can work around it a bit.


I'm elbows tucked.
In my BB routines I consider the bar press like an assistance movement that helps me increase my strength level and put that increase to work on other movements. Any direct development from the bar is 'icing on the cake'.

**IMO.....lifters with shoulder issues should not get the majority of thier volume from bar pressing.


I think people have read too many Dave Tate articles. Raw benching seldom requires a huge elbow-tuck. Even if you're powerlifting, you can get away with just a slight tuck.


you see thats just the thing, Christian Thibadeau has an interesting technique where he talks about shrugging up, and how thats safest for the shoulders, and he claims that the tucked positions is the bad one. ive tried this shrugged position and i had almost no pain with 135, but anything heavier would be painful. but im confused as to CT's application or utilization of that movement , because he mentions athletes so much. i would think someone like a football player would benefit more from a tuck. because i really doubt we were designed to flare our elbows while shoving someone. but all the same it works for him. i came to the conclusion that as long as there is adequate muscular balance in the back and healthy shoulder posture that the technique could be either or. but still the PL style or the elbows tucked style seem the safest when I think about it. and there are many articles on here from different coaches who say the same thing. i tend to trust Dave Tate more than Thib because he has so many years of injuries and experience, not to mention training like an animal with bad shoulders, but that doesn't mean that Thib doesn't have some great insight. hes definatley a smart guy.


Tate is very clear that the degree of tuck is directly related to your individual touch spot.


Haha, I did type that to start with...

Why did I chose that screen-name, why?? lol

Agreed. That's what I was trying to say


I think your genetic structure,attachments etc., dicatate how much or how little an elbows tucked style hits your chest. I was always did an elbows flared style especially on inclines because that's what gave me results, and the stronger I got the more of a dramatic appearance it made on my physique.

doing that style long term though might have wreaked havoc on my shoulders because now due to pain I can only use elbows tucked and I look like s**t. Nor do I feel anything in my upper pecs. I feel it in lower pecs and front delts which have always been proportionately too big on me anyway.
In the end I think it's individual based on your genetic build.


I too am curious about Thib's 'shrugging' method when decline and flat pressing. What's everyone's thoughts on this?


I disagree. I remember reading an article when I was just starting out in which he said to tuck one's elbows and touch one's lower abs, without elaboration. This did not work well for me.

Regardless, I'm a big Tate fan, and that was the least significant part of my previous post.



Here's the vid from CT, I think he mentioned in a spill some time ago that his shrug doesn't apply in incline.

Also, don't max out with flared elbows if you don't want a pec tear. (This goes more for 315+ benchers though.)


from what ive read of the posts it depends on the individual. but still , i feel somewhat disappointed that someone hasn't done more research into this subject. because theyve gotten scientific evidence to support both techniques, but they dont go enough into detail about it.


Tucking the elbows transfers SOME of the weight to the tris. Not all. Too many people extrapolate to extremes. Keep tucking for the simple fact that its more natural. If you wanna hit your chest harder, drop weight and flare at the end of a bench workout.