T Nation

Bench Press Elbow Tuck Question


As it should be, i pull the bar down and tuck my elbows. I press out of the hole with my elbows tucked as well. Upon watching some competition videos, after the lifter got out of the hole with tucked elbows, coaches would yell for them to flare. Once i get out of the hole with the elbows tucked do i flare (90 degree angle?) from the midpoint of the press to lockout? thank you.


This is mostly for shirted benchers. I tried this and it gave me nothing but shoulder problems. Somebody else who is more experienced might be able to chime in if I'm incorrect about anything, but that's just my experience with it.



Yes, you should flare out (and also internally rotate) when you press, although you likely don't need to go all the way out to 90 degrees. The elbows should stay under the bar, so they are tucked on the way down and at the very initial part of the push.

As the bar moves up (meaning toward the ceiling away from your chest) the bar should also curve back toward your head, exactly how far depends on your build but it will likely finish over your clavicle/upper sternum on heavy singles. The elbows will have to flare out in order to stay under the bar with that bar path. This is all assuming you are benching raw.


Can i ask where youve read this? Just that what im reading tells me completely different. In Louie simmons book, Westside barbell : book of methods he states " Press the bar straight up and slightly toward the feet. This is the shortest distance to press
and eliminates shoulder rotation. Rotating the bar back over the face can cause rotator and pec
injuries. Never intentionally push the bar over the face".


Read it again..he doesn't say to press it over your face. If you tuck and press from low on the pecs, you can't press it toward your feet...you have to stay under the bar.


Lol @ asking Tim Henriques where he read this.


Thanks Tim i will take your advice, and yes i do bench raw.


Louie writes primarily for geared lifters. In a shirt, pushing straight up does make a big difference.


Wendler said to throw it down towards your dick and back up over your face.



I really wish people would recognize this. All you have to do is watch the best raw pressers, and all that I can think of press exactly as Tim described.


it's similiar to one reading up on how to squat and being told to "sit back" into your squat. as a raw squatter what am i supposed to sit back into?

point is... consider the source when taking advice.


ahh yeah i did completely forget about geared and raw. sorry

and i asked tim because i wanted to know the article,website,book etc not because i was questioning his knowledge. Again sorry if it came across in that manner


No worries my friend, you are allowed to question even me :slightly_smiling:

I have come to suggest benching that way because: first and foremost I am stronger that way and it feels much more natural, a very good cue that works for almost all lifters when they get stuck is to say "press it back to me" when you are spotting them and you will be amazed at how they can now finish the lift, and if you watch good benchers there is normally an arc of some sort, generally the longer the arms the more of an arc you will see.

If you want a more detailed article, check this out. I don't agree with necessarily every point made in the article, but what can't be argued is the bar path that the elite level benchers used (graph at bottom of article), it paints a pretty clear picture.



for the raw lifter, my opinion is, go straight down, go straight up. Don't worry about flaring this, tucking that, pressing towards the face, etc. This is exactly how Dave Tate shows it in the 5 (or 6?) part Elitefts bench press series on youtube.

here's an example (I go wider since I have long monkey arms)

for the shirted lifter, it's something I'm completely ignorant on so I can't comment.


Thanks for the article tim.


There are two schools of thought on geared benching. Louie says to push in a straight line, but a lot of guys at westside have switched over to pressing back over the face. A lot of the big benchers advocate pressing back over the face because it gives you somewhere to go if you start to stall.

It's a longer range of motion but for most people it seems they are stronger over their face (everyone I've lifted with). I've stalled out in my shirt off the chest and if I drifted back I could turn the elbows out and flare them as I let the bar drift. Pressing in a straight line is the shortest distance but I think you need more speed (which louie implements as well) b/c you're not as strong at that position, plus if you do slow down, you have nowhere to go.

I think with raw benching, its similar to shirt benching, but with raw you don't go as extreme as you would in a shirt because you don't have the shirt to support the position.

For instance you wouldn't bring the bar as low raw as you would in a shirt, wouldn't tuck as hard as in a shirt b/c you don't have to fight something that's stopping you from touching. And you wouldn't flare back as extreme of an arc b/c you don't have the shirt to provide some resistance.


I am one of those raw benchers who presses in a straight line too. BUT, I have a very high arch, and short arms. So my stroke is short and sweet. My best was 435 raw in the 165's. I am sure though, that some folks could benefit from the arc'd stroke. Also, for my stroke, I do not tuck my elbows nearly as much as some either. But, I will not say my way is the way to go for everyone. But, it has worked for me. That is not to say that this time around (took 6 years off competing- first meet back in February in teh 181's)I may not play with my form a bit and see what happens. I know that if I tuck too much at the bottom, my shoulders complain a bit.