T Nation

Bench Press


Hi All

I have a quick question: Perhaps I should have known this before but I recently read that when bench pressing the shoulder blades should be pulled back so that the muscles of the upper back are contracted, and should remain like this THROUGHOUT THE MOVEMENT. I understand that this may be beneficial from a powerlifting point of view as it potentially shortens the range of motion and therefore may allow more weight to be lifted. However, if hypertrophy is your goal, bearing in mind that one function of the pecs is to internally rotate the shoulders, should I always keep my shoulder blades pulled back when bench pressing? It seems to prevent a more complete contraction of the pecs at the top position...

Any advice appreciated. Thanks.


Yes you should still keep your shoulder blades together.
If you have ever suffered from an impingment like I have then you will always bench press like that. I actually find that this way actually hits my pecs harder especially when I dont lock out my arms at the top too.


Thanks Shorty, I will try it then - of course I definitely want to avoid impingement. Just can't help thinking I'm missing out on a complete contraction at the top...


I can understand your thinking that you will miss the "sqqquuuueeezzzeee" at the top but I concur with shorty that you will actually hit your pecs much harder by keeping your shoulder blades back. This really isnt a new revelation as its been published many times previously.

You can still (and should) contract the pecs at the top...the only difference now is that your shoulders arent doing the bulk of the work for the squeeze. It takes a bit of getting used to, but when you do it right you will feel it right where you are spozedta.


I'm actually just getting started benching this way after years of flaring the elbows out. I've been reading the bench 600 pounds article as well as looking through the forum. I'm actually still stronger with the elbows out...my elbows seem to drift to that position automatically when the weight gets heavier. I realize that this may be because the supporting muscles are not strong enough yet, but I also feel a slight pop in my left elbow doing it this way. I read here recently that you should have your hands 24 inches apart...it almost feels like a close-grip bench press when my hands are this close.

Any thoughts/tips? Should I just completely start over, with the bar, until I feel more comfortable with my hands at this width and elbows in?


Your triceps are weak. Thats why you cant bench with elbows in.


Thanks...I was thinking that my lats would be my biggest hinderance/weakest link for benching this way...I never even thought about the tris being the first hurdle. Looks like I've got some work to do on them.

I remember about a year ago talking to the manager of personal training at Bally's (not even a regular personal trainer, the guy that trains the personal trainers there) and we were talking about benching. It was back when I had a cheap membership to the gym and he was giving me a free preview of what members get if they pay for personal training sessions (which I think averaged about 50 bucks an hour). This was right around the time I first found this site and was talking to him about how I had just read an article that talks about benching like this (elbows in, driving it from the lower chest/upper abs, etc). He scoffed and said "I don't feel that in my chest at all. You need to keep your elbows out." He then proceded to teach me how to do a deadlift, by saying "bend down and pick the weight up." That was it. Nothing about posture, grip, etc. It wasn't even because he was I was just getting a free preview...I knew a couple of the trainers there, and this is how he trained them to train people that paid to get one on one time with a trainer. I'm glad I wasn't paying him for this session he gave me.

I already learned my lesson to trust what I find here in the mag and forum over anything else, and I feel thankful that I found this place after some of the things I've been told/taught at other sources...it's just scary that so many people actually pay to be trained by so many trainers that are misinformed, confused, and sometimes just wrong.