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Bench Press: Which Technique?

I have been reading about the different styles of bench pressing such as powerlifting style (aka elbows tucked in, etc…) compared to the elbows perpendicular or flared out style. Which is the most effective for strength and building muscle in the chest?

Should I go with the elbows flared out even though it could possibly lead to shoulder injury or does the elbows tucked in still build muscle in the chest?

I’m gonna quote Joe DeFranco on this one. This is taken from his site.

A reader asked him the very same question, elbows flared or tucked?

His answer:
It?s not that one is better than the other; it depends on your training goal. Most bodybuilders advocate the ?flaring elbows? version because benching in this (horizontal) plane does recruit the pectoralis major to a greater extent. (It?s important to know that joint position dictates muscular recruitment patterns.) So, if your sole purpose for bench-pressing is to put some muscle on your chest, this form is probably your best bet. I have found this version to place more stress on connective tissue and the Acromioclavicular joint (AC joint), though.

The ?elbows tucked? version was originally popularized by powerlifters. This is how I teach all my athletes to bench press as well. I coach them to lower the bar to just below the nipple line. The upper arms should be at a 45-degree angle in relation to the upper body in the bottom position. I then coach them to accelerate the weight upward in a straight line. Bench-pressing in this manner is less likely to tear connective tissue surrounding the shoulder joint. Benching in this (sagittal) plane recruits the triceps and latissimus dorsi to a greater extent, while the pectoralis major is less involved. It is also more specific to the pushing movements required in most sports ? offensive lineman pass-blocking, hockey players checking , etc.

The chest will still be involved when the elbows are tucked. However, you need to look at the reason to tuck the elbows: You will lift more weight and it’s safer. By flaring the elbows, you may “feel it” more in your chest, but why would you do this when this leads to shoulder problems, less strength, and other possible injuries?

If you want to develop your chest, do DB presses. I believe that the bench press should not be used as a means to build the chest, but rather as a movement.

v

I started reading your post and I thought ‘oh my gosh, I’m going to agree with you’

I do agree completely with paragraph one. However; being old school I still believe in the bb bench press. And thank goodness for me the new article titled …myths II… has some solid info that may help you here.

Everyone is different though with regard to shoulder rotation and flexibility. Try different ways to see what works for you.

I would definately go slow with the elbows flared though. It does put you in a most vulnerable position. Go check out that article, it has alot of good info for upper body workouts.

I actually incorporate both styles into my training. When I’m doing heavy 10x3s, I use the elbows in technique. When I’m using a lighter load for 5x10s, I have my elbows flared out a little more. This training allows me to protect the shoulders on the heavy days, while still getting the chest stimulation on the lighter days. So far, it has worked well (touch wood).

[quote]Massif wrote:
I actually incorporate both styles into my training. When I’m doing heavy 10x3s, I use the elbows in technique. When I’m using a lighter load for 5x10s, I have my elbows flared out a little more. This training allows me to protect the shoulders on the heavy days, while still getting the chest stimulation on the lighter days. So far, it has worked well (touch wood).[/quote]

Very interesting Massif, makes sense. I’ll have to try that as I’ve recently switched strictly to elbow-in after some shoulder pain. It just doesnt hit the chest the same.