T Nation

Bench Pressing with Lats


#1

Not sure how to start with this so i'll just get to it,

When i keep my grip narrow let my elbows come in, if i flex my lats (as in a bodybuilding front lat spread) and push my shoulders ever so slightly up i'm very strong off my chest and can lift more weight in general

I only really do this with heavy presses cause i kinda feel i use alot less pecs and rely moreso on my lats/shoulders to get a weight off my chest

I accidently learned that technique when pushing for a PR double, tought i was gonna miss the second rep and it sort of was a natural reaction

Anybody else do this?


#2

That’s a good way to injure your shoulders. You are supposed to keep you shoulder blades pulled together, you are pushing them out. That puts a lot of pressure on the shoulder joint, and in a position that it can’t handle it very well. For lat activation on bench, try to bend the bar and squeeze your lats as you lower the bar, it will give you more power off your chest. Chris Duffin has a video that explains it well.

Don’t practice bodybuilding poses with a bar in your hands.


#3

The narrower your grip, the more the lats can come into play in the bottom portion of the lift, but that position puts many other major muscles in a mechanical disadvantageous position, such as the pecs and triceps.


#4

When you say move you shoulders up, do you mean in the horizontal way like towards your head or like vertically up? Both is not a good thing, if you are subconsciously doing it you probably have some tight traps and a tight subscap


#5

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:
The narrower your grip, the more the lats can come into play in the bottom portion of the lift, but that position puts many other major muscles in a mechanical disadvantageous position, such as the pecs and triceps. [/quote]

Yeah like i said i feel way less activation in my chest and lockout is also harder

[quote]chris_ottawa wrote:
That’s a good way to injure your shoulders. You are supposed to keep you shoulder blades pulled together, you are pushing them out. That puts a lot of pressure on the shoulder joint, and in a position that it can’t handle it very well. For lat activation on bench, try to bend the bar and squeeze your lats as you lower the bar, it will give you more power off your chest. Chris Duffin has a video that explains it well.

Don’t practice bodybuilding poses with a bar in your hands.[/quote]

I generally stay very tight while pressing, guess on monday i’ll film myself and see if it just feels that way or my shoulders are actually coming up. If they are i’ll switch back to pressing with a regular style

Nah it was just an example, i’m not into bodybuilding and certainly not while under a bar

Edit: bending the bar never really did anything for me, it kinda led me to unwanted tricep activation since i ussually press very narrow compared to others and i keep my elbows tucked (I press with the end of my thumbs at the start of the knurling)


#6

[quote]cparker wrote:
When you say move you shoulders up, do you mean in the horizontal way like towards your head or like vertically up? Both is not a good thing, if you are subconsciously doing it you probably have some tight traps and a tight subscap[/quote]

I don’t know its subconscious, it feels like i’m pushing them up vertically 5mm but not to an extent that i let them get off the bench. Perhaps to the side because my lats sort off push my triceps away


#7

The idea is to tighten your shoulder blades DOWN, but not to pinch them TOGETHER. If you pinch them, you won’t be able to use your lats very well, so this could be why moving your shoulders up helps. Try to find a point at which the shoulder blades are pushed slightly down and the lats are engaged (and spread slightly), and remain in that position throughout (i.e. don’t adjust and lift your shoulders under load / during a set).


#8

Also, why is your grip so narrow? I’d widen it quite a bit for most purposes.


#9

Shoulder blades in your back pocket. Unless you are benching in a shirt and need to touch that last inch or so, keep your elbows at around a 45 degree angle to your body. Arch your chest up to meet the bar, then lock it out while keeping the shoulders in your back pocket. You simply have to extend the arms. You do not have to push the weight as far as possible from your body. The bech press is a whole body movement. Do it in such a fashion that as many muscles are engaged as possible.


#10

[quote]StrengthDawg wrote:
Shoulder blades in your back pocket. Unless you are benching in a shirt and need to touch that last inch or so, keep your elbows at around a 45 degree angle to your body. Arch your chest up to meet the bar, then lock it out while keeping the shoulders in your back pocket. You simply have to extend the arms. You do not have to push the weight as far as possible from your body. The bech press is a whole body movement. Do it in such a fashion that as many muscles are engaged as possible. [/quote]
Listen to this guy.


#11

Filmed myself today while pressing, my shoulders don’t come off the bench. Did a few singles to find out why it feels that way and i guess it just feels that way when i flex my rear delts

[quote]halcj wrote:
The idea is to tighten your shoulder blades DOWN, but not to pinch them TOGETHER. If you pinch them, you won’t be able to use your lats very well, so this could be why moving your shoulders up helps. Try to find a point at which the shoulder blades are pushed slightly down and the lats are engaged (and spread slightly), and remain in that position throughout (i.e. don’t adjust and lift your shoulders under load / during a set).[/quote]

One problem i had when i started training a few years back was keeping my shoulder blades too tight, i think me adjusting my shoulder blades slightly while pressing developed as a result

[quote]halcj wrote:
Also, why is your grip so narrow? I’d widen it quite a bit for most purposes.[/quote]

I don’t really know, one day i was doing heavy singles and for some weird reason i tried doing the last set with a narrower grip and it felt alot stronger/faster. I’ve been pressing pretty narrow ever since. It also feels alot safer on my shoulders, sometimes for fun i try to use a wider grip and it always feels very unsafe and its slow & weak! Weak as in weights i can do 20 reps with with my narrow grip for 5 with wide

[quote]StrengthDawg wrote:
Shoulder blades in your back pocket. Unless you are benching in a shirt and need to touch that last inch or so, keep your elbows at around a 45 degree angle to your body. Arch your chest up to meet the bar, then lock it out while keeping the shoulders in your back pocket. You simply have to extend the arms. You do not have to push the weight as far as possible from your body. The bech press is a whole body movement. Do it in such a fashion that as many muscles are engaged as possible. [/quote]

I’d say my elbows are a bit more tucked than 45 degress, i have no problem hitting my chest and i do arch quite a bit (only times i don’t is when i start getting cramps).

I use alot of leg drive when maxing out so no problem with using my entire body


#12

The way you bench NOW is obviously not working for you or you wouldn’t be here asking for advice. Go to youtube and watch the “so you think you can bench” series from Dave Tate at Elite FTS. Assuming you are a ‘powerlifter’, as you’ve posted this question in THIS sub sction it will line you out. Keep in mind that this will be a new motor pattern and will fel uncomfortable but if you keep at it that will change and your bench will start improving.

Do you train at a gym with older Powerlifters? They will most likely love to teach you how to bench better. You may have to prove to them that you are serious about becomming better and not just some gym douche that’s going to waste their time.

Good luck and God bless.


#13

You just learned to use your lats, which is a good thing, but keep in mind that this is only a small piece to the puzzle. It’s okay to focus on that now as you’re developing the motor pattern to engage them. As I learned how to improve technique in all the lifts I felt the same way and began overemphasizing areas of technique that I neglected before. Later on you’ll have to step back and look at the big picture of how to get as many muscles involved as possible to move the most weight like StrengthDawg said.

Once it becomes automatic to get the lats involved, put more effort into getting your chest into the lift by pushing it up to reach the bar to stretch the muscles at the bottom of the lift.

Also, you should have consistent technique and use the same muscles regardless of whether it is a max or submaximal weight. If you aren’t fully utilizing stabilizer muscles during submaximal weights, they will start lagging behind dynamic muscles which will always do work every rep.


#14

[quote]halcj wrote:
The idea is to tighten your shoulder blades DOWN, but not to pinch them TOGETHER. If you pinch them, you won’t be able to use your lats very well, so this could be why moving your shoulders up helps. Try to find a point at which the shoulder blades are pushed slightly down and the lats are engaged (and spread slightly), and remain in that position throughout (i.e. don’t adjust and lift your shoulders under load / during a set).[/quote]

Really? I think a lot of people would disagree with not pulling the shoulder blades together. Is this how you bench?


#15

[quote]Awes wrote:
Really? I think a lot of people would disagree with not pulling the shoulder blades together. Is this how you bench?[/quote]

It depends to what degree the shoulder blades are pulled together. If you mean to pinch the shoulder blades completely together and basically touch then I found that hasn’t worked as well because that position forces me to shrug my shoulders up and have no lat engagement. I found this to be true when squatting too. Having the lats contribute to stabilize for a paused bench feels a lot better. For me, pinching the shoulders together was one of the first cues I learned and probably the worst. I have to prioritize getting my lats involved by pulling it down before slightly pulling my shoulder blades together. I know that it works for some people though. It seems like pinching the blades together could reduce the ROM a bit but it isn’t a good tradeoff for me personally.


#16

[quote]lift206 wrote:

[quote]Awes wrote:
Really? I think a lot of people would disagree with not pulling the shoulder blades together. Is this how you bench?[/quote]

It depends to what degree the shoulder blades are pulled together. If you mean to pinch the shoulder blades completely together and basically touch then I found that hasn’t worked as well because that position forces me to shrug my shoulders up and have no lat engagement. I found this to be true when squatting too. Having the lats contribute to stabilize for a paused bench feels a lot better. For me, pinching the shoulders together was one of the first cues I learned and probably the worst. I have to prioritize getting my lats involved by pulling it down before slightly pulling my shoulder blades together. I know that it works for some people though. It seems like pinching the blades together could reduce the ROM a bit but it isn’t a good tradeoff for me personally.[/quote]

Exactly, it depends on the degree. It probably comes down to differences in how people respond to cues in practice more so than differences in actual positioning; some might tend to require extra focus on one aspect, others on a different one, but the endpoint should be similar in general.


#17

[quote]Awes wrote:

[quote]halcj wrote:
The idea is to tighten your shoulder blades DOWN, but not to pinch them TOGETHER. If you pinch them, you won’t be able to use your lats very well, so this could be why moving your shoulders up helps. Try to find a point at which the shoulder blades are pushed slightly down and the lats are engaged (and spread slightly), and remain in that position throughout (i.e. don’t adjust and lift your shoulders under load / during a set).[/quote]

Really? I think a lot of people would disagree with not pulling the shoulder blades together. Is this how you bench?[/quote]
It’s how I bench. I pull them down, but don’t squeeze them together. Down and tight, with weight on my traps.


#18

[quote]lift206 wrote:

[quote]Awes wrote:
Really? I think a lot of people would disagree with not pulling the shoulder blades together. Is this how you bench?[/quote]

It depends to what degree the shoulder blades are pulled together. If you mean to pinch the shoulder blades completely together and basically touch then I found that hasn’t worked as well because that position forces me to shrug my shoulders up and have no lat engagement. I found this to be true when squatting too. Having the lats contribute to stabilize for a paused bench feels a lot better. For me, pinching the shoulders together was one of the first cues I learned and probably the worst. I have to prioritize getting my lats involved by pulling it down before slightly pulling my shoulder blades together. I know that it works for some people though. It seems like pinching the blades together could reduce the ROM a bit but it isn’t a good tradeoff for me personally.[/quote]

My apologies. I misunderstood you as saying you don’t pull your shoulders back to any degree.

I too bench with my shoulders back and down, as opposed to pinching the shoulders, which would elevate them. I guess it’s all same same then.


#19

[quote]StrengthDawg wrote:
The way you bench NOW is obviously not working for you or you wouldn’t be here asking for advice. Go to youtube and watch the “so you think you can bench” series from Dave Tate at Elite FTS. Assuming you are a ‘powerlifter’, as you’ve posted this question in THIS sub sction it will line you out. Keep in mind that this will be a new motor pattern and will fel uncomfortable but if you keep at it that will change and your bench will start improving.

Do you train at a gym with older Powerlifters? They will most likely love to teach you how to bench better. You may have to prove to them that you are serious about becomming better and not just some gym douche that’s going to waste their time.

Good luck and God bless. [/quote]

The only thing that wasn’t working so well was my elbows getting mad at me sometimes whenever my frequency/volume/intensity all get too high at the same time, besides that i was genuinly curious if anyone pressed the same way.

You guys here convinced my to change my style back to a regular one which is a good idea since my delts were starting to overpower my chest.

Sadly, no powerlifters in my gym … just people that workout in pairs with their buddies and their magical “can’t tell you how long we still need this bench cuz 30 seconds rest gotta go fieaast and then rant to my buddy about not knowing what weights to change and take like 2 minutes between each set insted of 30 seconds” bullshit and a few dudes that take more than simply gym drugs and aren’t too friendly (exept if your also huge and have a thing for muscle worship fetisch

Lil update if anyone is interested,

I’m pressing with a wider grip now (or regular by everyone’s standard"lol)

and don’t rely on lats to get something off my chest. It does feel very awkward to press this way again, been weak off my chest. I’m doing slightly higher reps now with more volume to teach myself this new pattern, first time i could only get my 8RP for a double, second time trying it i could get it for 5 (could have done 6, decided not to push it since i’m relearning to press this way).

Did some shoulder presses for the first time since forever, noticed everything felt very light and i could easily have hit a huge standing press PR. Probably my delts got alot stronger from pressing the way i did since i havent trained it at all (delts always got sore while pressing, not my chest).

Got an awesome chest pump while bench pressing also for the first time in a while, was pretty sore the next day