T Nation

Bench Press Problem

hey guys, no matter what i try when benching i always feel it in my shoulders and hardly in my chest. my shoulders give out and my chest hardly feels worked. i have tried all kind of grips, different grip widths, using dumbells. etc…
anyone have any tips or suggestions?
thanks in advance.

Buster: Are you doing mostly flat or incline work? This is a question that I’ve posed to the Forum in my thread “To Flat or Not To Flat…”. Could this be where the big problem is? I hope we get some good replys…

the bench IS a delt exercise and not a pec exercise

Hey there. A few old techniques to try are ; Reduce the weight,increase the time-under-tension (in other words, slow down on the eccentric and concentric), and concentrate on pushing and squeezing with your pecs alone, not just ‘getting the weight up there’. The second thing you can try is good-old pre-exhaust on a cable flye or similar. Good luck.

Hey, good choice on your handle. When you bench do you keep your shoulder blades pinched together and pressed firmly into the bench? If not, give it a try - its safer for your shoulders too.

hetyey; Is that true, irregarless as to angle? Interesting…

Hey bro, I would suggest you drop down in weight and change your form. Make sure when you grip the bar that the back of your hands are parallel with the wall. Most people bend there wrist back and it throws your alignment off. When you keep wrist straight your arms are inlign with your chest. When you grip the bar it will seem like its about to fall out of your hands. That is the correct way. Arch your back , dig feet in , keep stomach tight, breath through chest,(not your stomache). When you push the weight up, push toward your spotter. Focus on your chest and stay tight . later bro

no, decline benches do a good job of takeing the delts out of the exercise. remember the streched position is w/your elbows up and behind the body and the fully contracted position is w/the elbows down just in front of the body, try for yourself, try all the contracted positions of pec exercises, you will feel the pecs contract the most w/hands right in front of your groin. peace

Dorian Yates found that decline worked his chest better than flat bench.

hey guys, thanks for all the replies… MUFASA-i do half flat and half incline and in both positions i feel it in the shoulders more.
RADAR, BUSTER and HUNTER,- thanks for taking the time to reply and for the tips, I will give them all a try. Oh and BUSTER- my handle is named after my dog Buster… which in turn is named after Buster Keaton, one of my idols.
Ok, what do you guys think of dumbell pullovers? Is this an effective exercise for building mass in the chest or is it more a back exercise? thanks again for all the replies buddies.

Hey Buster
Like the bench press, you could consider the pullover a bit of a compound exercise I guess. It works the Lats (similar to a stiff-arm pulldown) and there’s also a school of thought (old school to be precise) that says it “spreads your rib cage”, There is also a bit of Pectoral activity, which can be enhanced by working on the “Mind-muscle connection” - in other words, concentrate on feeling the movement through the muscle you’re trying to work, and try and lift ONLY with that muscle. Another GREAT exercise I have found is a weighted dip. All I use is my old weight belt with a metre of small-link chain hanging from the buckle, and a carabina (sp.?) at the end. Thread that through a plate, hook the chain back on to the belt, and GET DIPPING! Sore and sorry the next day.

BusterK9,
Personally, I never flat bench. I decline, and incline, but rarely flat bench. (usually only to shake things up a bit). I also swear by dumbells as opposed to bar on all bench work. I find that the additional squeeze I get with dumbells pay dividends. I also agree with the time under tension comment above, as well as trying some pre-exhaustion. Also, If your only feeling it in your delts, could be that your delts are under-developed in relation to your chest development. Hope that helps

If you really want to blast your chest then use an ultra-wide grip, pause on the chest for a 2 count, and do 1 and one-half reps.

Try dumbbells or a cambered bar. This will increase ROM and give you a better “stretch” at the bottom. Just be sure not to go too far or it can be tough on your shoulders. Decline benches as hetyey suggested are good. Dumbbell decline benches are even better.

Where do you lower the bar to when you are doing flat bench? If you lower it to your upper chest and neck area on flat bench it is going to put more pressure on your shoulders than chest. Make sure that you are lowering the bar to nipple level or even a little lower and that should also take a little of the strain off your shoulders.

The bench press is a compound movement that involves the pecs, tris and delts. If the tris or delts are becoming exhausted before your pecs do, you may want to try pre-exhausting the pecs by using a pec-deck machine or some dumbell fly, then go immediately to the bench. This will hopefully tire the pecs out enough so they exhaust with or before the delts and tris. The University of Michigan Football team approaches the problem in this manner. Good Luck!

pullovers have been very good to me. i was stalled for months in my chest growth until i put the pullovers in. i have thickened up quite a bit in the last 2 months. i can actually see it and feel the difference in my shirts. not only that, but my incline numbers have gone up by 15lbs each dumbell (30lbs total!) and mu upper pecs are starting to stick out and have a more round appearance. everything else in both my diet and training has remained the same the only difference are pullovers. i never do any flat work just inclines, declines and inclined flyes. i am going to give the dips a shot seeing how they are really very similar to the decline press just not inverted. my tris usually get worked after my chest, but every once in a while i have to work them first to keep them growing and so they don’t crap out during my chest exercises. if your front delts can’t handle the load and are lagging then maybe you should rotate in some front delt work before your chest for a couple workouts to get them up to speed. kevo

Hetyey225,
I think we’re bound to Knock heads on this on whenever it comes up. Your belief that bench is a delt exercise is perhaps routed in your personal experiences. Bottom line is that it’s a chest builder and if you feel it in your delts you either have a biomechanical predisposition to it or your anterior delt is the weak link in that anterior chain.
I still don’t understand how you don’t feel Dips hit your delts. Try and explain your reasoning so I can better understand the logic.

hey guys, just a quick thanks to everyone taking the time to reply. i will try all these different tips and ideas and see what happens on my next chest day.

BigRob, I guess we probably will but I responded to another post about benches and I don’t want to take up to much of this thread so if ya’ check one of the other bench/dip threads I think it may explain what I think. and I must say I did not mean to say the bench is NOT a pec exercise I just think it uses too much delts and dips are better. peace