T Nation

Bench Press, How to REALLY Feel it on the Chest Muscles

For some odd reason, when I always did sets of chest exercises, I never really had any DOMS the way I do with my leg muscles or other parts of my body. I do however normally feel some changes to my shoulders and definitely my triceps.

I talked to a friend of mine and he suggested to use a wide grip on bench. I tried this on a decline bench press and this time for alot of sets and alot of reps and I could definitely feel an actual stretch in my chest muscles, this is something I hadn’t felt in a long time. I’ve heard that decline though is basically useless though since the range of motion is low. On a regular flat bench press, I tried the approximate the same grip, but for some reason didn’t feel that same stretch on my chest.

Does anyone who has had issues actually getting the chest really activated have any advice on what to do to really activate it? I was thinking of trying dumbbell presses on a flat bench with sort of partial reps at the bottom (not extending at the top). Is the feeling basically just a stretch when the chest is activated or is it something else?

Thanks in advance

2 things help me “feel” it better in my chest

  1. Go slower on the eccentric phase (4-6 seconds)
  2. While gripping the bar and lifting the weight, push(squeeze) your hands inwards

When I get a good arch, and only do the chest portion of the press, stopping when it changes over to primarily tris, my chest gets slaughtered. Arch hard, stroke from touching chest to about 3/4 0f full ROM. You’ll find something. Squeezing hard and trying to compress the bar like an accordion has been mentioned. Are you tall? Long armed (relatively)?

[quote]jp_dubya wrote:
When I get a good arch, and only do the chest portion of the press, stopping when it changes over to primarily tris, my chest gets slaughtered. Arch hard, stroke from touching chest to about 3/4 0f full ROM. You’ll find something. Squeezing hard and trying to compress the bar like an accordion has been mentioned. Are you tall? Long armed (relatively)? [/quote]

My arms are medium sized to long. I do currently arch, so I think my form is correct in that regard. I think it has something to do with my grip. I know that when I use a closer grip, like shoulder width or half an inch wider than that I basically feel my triceps are doing all the work. Your recommendation of trying these partial reps is what I think I’m going to try next… that’s great advice, I’ll like doing it without extending fully… thanks for the reply dude

[quote]jp_dubya wrote:
When I get a good arch, and only do the chest portion of the press, stopping when it changes over to primarily tris, my chest gets slaughtered. Arch hard, stroke from touching chest to about 3/4 0f full ROM. You’ll find something. Squeezing hard and trying to compress the bar like an accordion has been mentioned. Are you tall? Long armed (relatively)? [/quote]

Ahh one more thing, I am not tall, I’m only 5’8", 181 lbs.

[quote]akkxn wrote:
2 things help me “feel” it better in my chest

  1. Go slower on the eccentric phase (4-6 seconds)
  2. While gripping the bar and lifting the weight, push(squeeze) your hands inwards[/quote]

Thanks, I’ll try that too, I guess I normally try to do it at a medium speed (not too explosive, not too slow), but slow is definitely worth a try…

You need to set up so by pinching your shoulder blades together. This is the key to getting the chest activated.

Dumbbells are probably the best way to get the pecs activated. Just go really wide and low on each rep to get a good stretch on the pecs at the bottom.

[quote]Der Candy wrote:
You need to set up so by pinching your shoulder blades together. This is the key to getting the chest activated.[/quote]

Thanks man, when you feel your chest activated, is it just a stretch or something more?

When I flex other muscles, like my biceps, it feels like a contraction, I suppose the chest is more like a stretch feeling when activated?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hsr1-xcXFL8

OP watch this vid.

Don’t know if y’all read this article:

Sqquueeezzzzeeee fly.

Now, I know this is not a bench press, but it addresses the focus of this topic.

To really feel it, you have to strictly do what CT says, just as if he were there coaching you: Squeeze as hard as you can (hint: if you honestly think you’re squeezing as hard as you can, then still try and squeeze harder) and make that press movement with the squeeze last for AT LEAST five seconds.

These are brutal, better than pec decks so far as I’m concerned. Start with a small weight, maybe half or less of what you use for flat dumbell press.

I especially like supersetting them with barbell pullovers, will be experimenting supersetting them with other movements. Thanks, CT !!!

Try a “suicide grip”. Instead of wrapping your thumb round the bar place it near your index finger and cradle the bar in your palm. Only way to press.

[quote]BeetleJuiced wrote:
Don’t know if y’all read this article:

Sqquueeezzzzeeee fly.

Now, I know this is not a bench press, but it addresses the focus of this topic.

To really feel it, you have to strictly do what CT says, just as if he were there coaching you: Squeeze as hard as you can (hint: if you honestly think you’re squeezing as hard as you can, then still try and squeeze harder) and make that press movement with the squeeze last for AT LEAST five seconds.

These are brutal, better than pec decks so far as I’m concerned. Start with a small weight, maybe half or less of what you use for flat dumbell press.

I especially like supersetting them with barbell pullovers, will be experimenting supersetting them with other movements. Thanks, CT !!!

[/quote]

I tried this once, the problem for me is finding weights that are very heavy and hexogonal. At my gym, once you get above 25, all the weights are round. In those pictures, when you see him connecting the weight and squeezing, I think that’s something that perhaps can only be done with a weight of that shape…

Why dont you try to prefatigue the chest by doing supersets: dumbell flyes followed by bench press. It helped me feel my pecs working while pressing.

letshavepaneer, yeah dude, never thought about the round bells, good point, but bad point in your case.

Round dumbells piss me off. Methinks the only advantage over hex is that the round cause less damage to the floors.

I’m so spoiled, I have two different gyms that I work out at, but I also have a set of hex dumbells and an adjustable bench at home, along with a crude (but safe) power rack that I built.

I try to encourage my friends to put the $$ together and to purchase a set of hex dumbells over time. I set a goal to buy a new pair each month and eventually my whole rack was full.

I also try to encourage my friends to gain a variety of places that they can work out and to seek out these places with the same zeal that they might seek out deals on supps.

In my case, there’s a gym at the University where I work that I get a deal at, and there’s a nice gym in the local school district where I get a great annual price (but very limited available hours).

Do you know where I get the most work in? At home, limited stuff, but constant availability. I cruise garage sales and find plates, bars and other things real cheap all the time.

If I took the same available $$ and bought myself a membership at Gold’s or World, I would never get the same overall benefit.

Now I’m way off topic.

Thanks for the thread, though, because some of the other replies provided some excellent info.

[quote]letshavepaneer wrote:
jp_dubya wrote:
When I get a good arch, and only do the chest portion of the press, stopping when it changes over to primarily tris, my chest gets slaughtered. Arch hard, stroke from touching chest to about 3/4 0f full ROM. You’ll find something. Squeezing hard and trying to compress the bar like an accordion has been mentioned. Are you tall? Long armed (relatively)?

My arms are medium sized to long. I do currently arch, so I think my form is correct in that regard. I think it has something to do with my grip. I know that when I use a closer grip, like shoulder width or half an inch wider than that I basically feel my triceps are doing all the work. Your recommendation of trying these partial reps is what I think I’m going to try next… that’s great advice, I’ll like doing it without extending fully… thanks for the reply dude[/quote]

I think your grip is a lot of your problem. That is way too narrow for bodybuilding purposes. Come out like 3 more inches.

[quote]letshavepaneer wrote:
For some odd reason, when I always did sets of chest exercises, I never really had any DOMS the way I do with my leg muscles or other parts of my body. I do however normally feel some changes to my shoulders and definitely my triceps.

I talked to a friend of mine and he suggested to use a wide grip on bench. I tried this on a decline bench press and this time for alot of sets and alot of reps and I could definitely feel an actual stretch in my chest muscles, this is something I hadn’t felt in a long time. I’ve heard that decline though is basically useless though since the range of motion is low. On a regular flat bench press, I tried the approximate the same grip, but for some reason didn’t feel that same stretch on my chest.

Does anyone who has had issues actually getting the chest really activated have any advice on what to do to really activate it? I was thinking of trying dumbbell presses on a flat bench with sort of partial reps at the bottom (not extending at the top). Is the feeling basically just a stretch when the chest is activated or is it something else?

Thanks in advance[/quote]

Not sure if anyone else has mentioned it but I personally do not think that the decline bench press is useless. It takes the shoulders mostly out of the exercise for me and I feel it more in my chest than any other angle. Plus it’s the angle I can go the heaviest on.

[quote]Unaware wrote:
Try a “suicide grip”. Instead of wrapping your thumb round the bar place it near your index finger and cradle the bar in your palm. Only way to press. [/quote]

Am I the only one who noticed this retarded post?

No offence, but have you ever seen someone drop a bar loaded with 225+ on his chest? Not a pretty sight, I’ll tell you that.

Wider grip on bb bench, use dumbbells, floor presses, shorten the ROM by only doing the bottom half of the press, do whatever it takes man.

Also, has your chest progress stalled? If your chest is still growing I wouldn’t worry about DOMS or any of that shit.

[quote]Der Candy wrote:
You need to set up so by pinching your shoulder blades together. This is the key to getting the chest activated.[/quote]

This bit of advice is HUGE! It will prevent your front delts from assisting too much.

S

always put your feet up on the bench…helps with isolation.

can’t believe this hasn’t been mentioned.