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Bench Press: Why Do I Fail?

Dear knowledgeable iron pumping fellows,

Can someone help me by diagnosing the weak point in my bench press chain. When I fail a rep at the end of my last serie, it is always because I can’t get past the few inches that follow the “bounce”. I block at approx 4 inches from my chest. If I can get past that point the I’ll be able to press it up to lock position.
Accoding to that, what is failing? My pecs? My tricps, my delts?

Thanks alot!

Don’t get too caught up in the minutia.

It’s too tough to point out such a specific weakness to a beginner. Just keep lifting heavy.

no bouncing

control the bar

What kind of grip are you using? How wide or narrow you grip the bar is going to affect where the emphasis is placed.

[quote]marlboroman wrote:
no bouncing

control the bar[/quote]

x2

thats what Mark Rippitoe says, so thats what I do. I believe he explains why bouncing is bad. Something to do with not developing a certain muscle that starts working for the bottom portion of the bench. If you bounce (I think he said) you neglect that muscle.

I say don’t bounce. You will probably not be able to do as much weight, but it should be better for developing muscles.

I don’t bounce off my chest, I was referring to Rippetoe “The bench press, like the squat, likes a certain amount of rebound out of the bottom”. I don’t think he meant bouncing because later he uses the term “touch and go” as opposed to the “stopped bench press” that is used in powerlifting competitions.

So you guys suggest I do “stopped bench” instead of “touch and go”?

I’ll keep it simple then, no minutia!

Thanks alot

[quote]JSmith23 wrote:
What kind of grip are you using? How wide or narrow you grip the bar is going to affect where the emphasis is placed.[/quote]

I follow Rippetoes recommandation: when the bar touches my chest my forearms are perpendicular with the ground. So I’d say I use a wide grip.

It’s probably right at the point where most of us stall. Try to accelerate past it.

Another thing I’ve tried that seems to help sometimes: In addition to pushing straight up, try to pull your elbows in and push your hands out. Think of it as levering your elbow straight using your pec’s and tri’s. I guess I don’t have it down yet, because it doesn’t work all the time.

As always, when you try something new like this, start light and work up.

I can almost guarantee that you fail right at the transition where your triceps take over. you can do one of two things or both.

  1. Get faster so that you blast through it.
  2. Focus on the area of the triceps that connects to the elbow. strengthen that lower area will do wonders for you bench.

I am having the same problem with my bench. Last night I attempted a max, a max for me that is, of 135 and I failed and I can’t understand why. I can pump out 3 reps at 125 but somehow when I give 135 a go I get it half way up and then I stall. I am so annoyed with myself…

two options:

1.) lower the weight
2.) do some power rack presses and set the bar at JUST below your “failing” point

Thanks alot for the tips guys!

Eat more. That right there does amazing things for you. Also, what kind of reps/set/weights do you use?

Guys, he is failing in the first three inches off of his chest, when most of the force is generated by his pectorals(major). This is far before the transition to the triceps.

Work on firing your pectorals, developing the mind muscle connection.

No bounce, but stopped competition style pressing may help in this scenario by forcing the pectorals to work harder by eliminating the stored energy from the stretch shortening cycle.

Make sure your hands are set on the bar, pull your shoulder blades into position. Pull your toes back, move your feet laterally until your heels are in contact with the floor and a a small arch in your back. Your but should be pressed to the bench. Shift your torso towards your feet slightly. This should make you very stable. Make sure your head is flat on the bench. Instability would also reduce your force generating potential.

Tricep weakness

[quote]Punkned wrote:
Dear knowledgeable iron pumping fellows,

Can someone help me by diagnosing the weak point in my bench press chain. When I fail a rep at the end of my last serie, it is always because I can’t get past the few inches that follow the “bounce”. I block at approx 4 inches from my chest. If I can get past that point the I’ll be able to press it up to lock position.
Accoding to that, what is failing? My pecs? My tricps, my delts?

Thanks alot![/quote]

think of ytour chick with another guy.

works for me fighting past that point

Your problem is a case of weak lats and tri’s. The prime movers of a bench press is first the tri’s followed by the lats. Powerlifters have known this for years and you’ve probably never heard this from a body builder. Don’t believe me? Stand up and hold your arms out like you were holding a barbell, now flex your lats. What happened? Your arms went foreward didn’t they??

You should grab the bar and squeeze it as if your life depended on it and try to pull the bar apart. This will activate your rear delts and tension your forearms. Squeeze your shoulders together and plant your traps into the bench, then take a huge breath. This will help keep you tight. Tight = stable, stable = a good bench.

Imagine if I wer there and was going to kick you in the balls and the weight would fall right onto your chest. That’s how tight you should be!! Practice lowering the bar with your lats, this will help save your tri strength for the push. Control the bar down to your chest- touch slightly below your nipples. You should have your elbows in tight around the 8 and 4 o clock position- your not doing flies here so get your arms in!!

When the bar touches your chest, drive your heels into the ground. Flex your lats hard, think of pushing away from the bar, not pushing the bar away from you. If your doing a heavy single,you must hold your air till you lock it out.If your doing triples TRY to hold your air or you could get loose.
Have you tried Board presses or benching with chains??

[quote]StrengthDawg wrote:
Your problem is a case of weak lats and tri’s. The prime movers of a bench press is first the tri’s followed by the lats.
[/quote]

Absolutely not! The lats are involved in benching, because they are internal rotators. They come in very early in the lift. But yes, weak lats might be part of the OP’s problem. Pec weakness is probably the bigger issue, though.

Regardless, I’d be willing to bet that the OP needs to do more work on his upper back.

[quote]
Powerlifters have known this for years and you’ve probably never heard this from a body builder.[/quote]

You do know powerlifting bench presses and bodybuilding bench presses are different exercises, right?

[quote]
Don’t believe me? Stand up and hold your arms out like you were holding a barbell, now flex your lats. What happened? Your arms went foreward didn’t they?? [/quote]

No, they move back a bit. Unless I also flex my anterior deltoid, of course.

[quote]You should grab the bar and squeeze it as if your life depended on it and try to pull the bar apart. This will activate your rear delts and tension your forearms. Squeeze your shoulders together and plant your traps into the bench, then take a huge breath. This will help keep you tight. Tight = stable, stable = a good bench.

Imagine if I wer there and was going to kick you in the balls and the weight would fall right onto your chest. That’s how tight you should be!! Practice lowering the bar with your lats, this will help save your tri strength for the push. Control the bar down to your chest- touch slightly below your nipples. You should have your elbows in tight around the 8 and 4 o clock position- your not doing flies here so get your arms in!!

When the bar touches your chest, drive your heels into the ground. Flex your lats hard, think of pushing away from the bar, not pushing the bar away from you. If your doing a heavy single,you must hold your air till you lock it out.If your doing triples TRY to hold your air or you could get loose.
Have you tried Board presses or benching with chains?? [/quote]

I would strongly advise against trying to hold your breath for a set of 3.

[quote]rondastarr wrote:
I am having the same problem with my bench. Last night I attempted a max, a max for me that is, of 135 and I failed and I can’t understand why. I can pump out 3 reps at 125 but somehow when I give 135 a go I get it half way up and then I stall. I am so annoyed with myself…[/quote]

tip for your profile pic: don’t pinch your shoulder blades together in the rear double biceps pose. Instead, imagine you are pulling your elbows apart.

/hijack

[quote]rondastarr wrote:
I am having the same problem with my bench. Last night I attempted a max, a max for me that is, of 135 and I failed and I can’t understand why. I can pump out 3 reps at 125 but somehow when I give 135 a go I get it half way up and then I stall. I am so annoyed with myself…[/quote]

And on-topic, your problem, unlike the OP’s is pretty clearly triceps weakness.