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Benching With Elbows Tucked

I’ve just read Dave Tate’s benching article and I’ve found it to be quite helpful except for the ‘elbows tucked in’ part.

My current style is elbows flared but I find when I tuck my shoulders in, I feel ‘weaker’ and I’m able to bench less. Is this natural as my body is just getting used to benching this way and will I be able to get my normal numbers back if I persist?

it will be more difficult to bench press with your elbows tucked in initially, as you still need to coordinate yourself with the new technique.

also, when you tuck your elbows in and keep your elbows directly under the bar, you’ll notice that your triceps get much more work that the more commonly seem elbows flared out style of benching. you will also get much more lat involvement in you can keep your eblows directly under the bar throughout the lift.

over time, i find this to me the most powerful and effective way to bench. but again, initially, there will be a decrease in performance as there will be a ‘catch-up’ period in which your triceps and lats build up the strength and coordination for this new style of benching.

personally, if you’ve just started tucking in your elbows, driving through your heels, arching your back while keeping your back and butt in the bench at all time, driving through your heels, keeping the bar under your elbows, etc… you’ve made a good decision and this new technique will allow you to make strength gains much quicker.

also, when you bench this way, you make the lift much more compound, and walk away from every bench workout with more muscles being activated than the more commonly seen flat back elbows flared out approach <which i’m assuming is the technique you were using before>… these lifters tend to view bench press as an exercise for their ‘chest days’, etc… now, you’ll away from bench days feeling more of your muscles being worked, and a better sense of how to coordinate many muscles during ONE exercise.

IMO, this is one of the best techniques for big bench pressing. you’ll also build some great tris.

hope that all makes sense.

good luck.

You’ll eventually surpass your PR benching with elbows in, so don’t worry. What should concern you is the shoulder problems you’re going to have if you keep benching with elbows flared. I learned the hard way.

[quote]TornadoTommy wrote:
You’ll eventually surpass your PR benching with elbows in, so don’t worry. What should concern you is the shoulder problems you’re going to have if you keep benching with elbows flared. I learned the hard way.[/quote]

I’ve definitely found out the hard way as well. If you’re worried about chest hypertrophy, just add in some flies and incline work.

Cheers guys thanks for the advice. I guess I’ll just swallow my pride for now in the hope that I’ll stay injury free and put up some even better numbers in the future!

[quote]Reef wrote:
TornadoTommy wrote:
You’ll eventually surpass your PR benching with elbows in, so don’t worry. What should concern you is the shoulder problems you’re going to have if you keep benching with elbows flared. I learned the hard way.

I’ve definitely found out the hard way as well. If you’re worried about chest hypertrophy, just add in some flies and incline work. [/quote]

that might not even be necessary, at least as far a smy experience. i had much better development in my pectorals from benching heavy weight for heavy volume with high frequency with the eblows tucked in method.

your chest still gets a lot of work, and the key is progression. if the weights are getting heavier over time your muscles have no choice but to get bigger, as well.

that’s not to say doing some exxtra semi-isolation work for the pectorals won’t be beneficial, but i doubt it’ll be necessary for quite awhile.

I have to chime in with learning about shoulder troubles the hard way. I suffered a shoulder injury due to improper benching about six months ago, and I’m still not completely over it. I could bench a whole lot more weight that way, but I’m paying the price for it now with the weakling dumbell presses I’m rehabilitating with now.

i think the shoulder injuries are more common with the traditional flat back/elbows flared out style of bench pressing than with the powerlifting arched-back/elbows tucked in/driving through your heels technique of bench pressing.

i think it’s because when you are flat backed with your elbows flared out, you’re reducing the amount of work performed by the pecs and tris. just to use some simple proof, EMG testing reveals that decline presses create the highest amount of tension in the pecs than when compared to all other sorts of pec-dominant movements.

when arching your back in a powerlifting style bench press technique, you maximize chest activation since you pretty much decline the press due to the arch. this reduces the amount of work done by the delts than when compared the traditional flat-back elbows flared out style of bench pressing.

having the elbows flared out also increases the stretch on the delts at the bottom of the movement, possibly adding more strain than most people want.

also, when arching in the powerlifting style of bench pressing, you reduce the range of motion by flaring the back and pushing your chest out, further reducing the stretch on the delts at the bottom of the movement.

also, when you drive through your heels you helps stabilize the body, reducing the likelihood of internal shakiness when lifting. you know, the type of shakiness that maybe only the lifter can feel himself/herself. that kinda internal shakiness can lead to injuries and imbalances over time. staying rigid throughout the lift by driving through the heels reduces that internal shakiness.

so although it’s more mentally demanding to concentrate on all the factors involved in powerlifting style bench pressing, it’s worth it IMO for better results and safer lifting.

I’ve been wondering about this for quite a while. I lift without a shirt. Is elbow-tucked benching still advisable?

[quote]BSchroeder wrote:
I’ve been wondering about this for quite a while. I lift without a shirt. Is elbow-tucked benching still advisable?[/quote]

of course. i also never use powerlifting equipment. benching with the elbows tucked is my preferred style of benching.

How wide is your grip? It feels more ‘comfortable’ with my pinkies on the power ring, or slightly narrower. Flared-style, I have my index fingers on the ring.

i put my pinkies on the widest ring.

I tuck my elbow as well, after several sports related shoulder issues. It took a while to get my weights back up to where they once were, and now they are even higher.

I put my ring finger on the widest ring and it feels fine. I also do close grip benching with a much narrower grip. Funny thing is my close grip weights aren’t that far off from my regular grip.

Raw most people are more comfortable with pinkies on the rings versus pointer fingers. If you’ve ever donned a bench shirt though you’ll instantly see why they all use the widest allowable grip.

Using boards can be an effective way to practice elbows tucked.

Bear in mind the elbows will naturally flare a bit towards the end of the press to help with lockout. The idea of tucking is really moreso for the bottom half of the movement.

I changed to this technique after I read the article, and I also had at trainer at my local gym teach tell me that he preferred this method for saving the shoulders. I have been using it for a few months, and my bench PR has gone up to 335.

That being said, I also had a bad experience this weekend, while using this method. I was attempting to bench 340 after warming up with 315. I raised the bar to about 18 inches off my chest, when suddenly the weight shifted forward on my palms and my left wrist snapped out of position. I dropped 340 on my chest and broke my thumb in the process. Not good.

I analyzed my movements in a mirror this morning, and I can see that I was attempting to keep the bar moving straight up, I actually moved slightly towards my toes, just enough to unbalance the weight.

I am debating going back to the elbows flared method, but maybe I just need to relearn the elbows tucked technique.

I started benching with “elbows in” a while back based on what I’d been reading here and other places and I can say that your poundages will go back up quickly and pass what you were doing before. I’m not a big bencher, but I’m doing fifty pounds more than I was able to before and it didn’t take a year to there either. Stick with it and good luck!

[quote]timsutton60 wrote:
I changed to this technique after I read the article, and I also had at trainer at my local gym teach tell me that he preferred this method for saving the shoulders. I have been using it for a few months, and my bench PR has gone up to 335.

That being said, I also had a bad experience this weekend, while using this method. I was attempting to bench 340 after warming up with 315. I raised the bar to about 18 inches off my chest, when suddenly the weight shifted forward on my palms and my left wrist snapped out of position. I dropped 340 on my chest and broke my thumb in the process. Not good.

I analyzed my movements in a mirror this morning, and I can see that I was attempting to keep the bar moving straight up, I actually moved slightly towards my toes, just enough to unbalance the weight.

I am debating going back to the elbows flared method, but maybe I just need to relearn the elbows tucked technique.[/quote]

i can guarantee you that that would never happen to an experienced and disciplined trainee. sorry for your accident, but if that happened to you it is YOUR OWN FAULT, and not the fault of the technique.

either your technique was shit during that lift, or you had a poor spotter , or you were being too ambitious with the weight, whatever the case, those accidents are entirely avoidable and solely caused by NEGLIGENCE.

[quote]hueyOT wrote:
Reef wrote:
TornadoTommy wrote:
You’ll eventually surpass your PR benching with elbows in, so don’t worry. What should concern you is the shoulder problems you’re going to have if you keep benching with elbows flared. I learned the hard way.

I’ve definitely found out the hard way as well. If you’re worried about chest hypertrophy, just add in some flies and incline work.

that might not even be necessary, at least as far a smy experience. i had much better development in my pectorals from benching heavy weight for heavy volume with high frequency with the eblows tucked in method.

your chest still gets a lot of work, and the key is progression. if the weights are getting heavier over time your muscles have no choice but to get bigger, as well.

that’s not to say doing some exxtra semi-isolation work for the pectorals won’t be beneficial, but i doubt it’ll be necessary for quite awhile.
[/quote]

I absolutely agree.

Try this test…

Stand up straight and lift your arms up like you were benching with them flared, your upper arms are roughly parrallel to the floor now pull them back like you’re loweringthe bar, notice where the major stretch occurs.

Now repeat the proces while slightly tuckgin your elbows. Do oyu notice an extra strecth in the chest…??

I know I do.

Well thanks for your comments, it was my own fault of course, but I wouldn’t call it NEGLIGENCE. I just made a mistake in my form, thats all. And I am working to correct it.

When I can lift again, I will experiment with both methods of benching, and I will have someone watch my angle of ascent to make sure that I don’t move in the wrong direction.

The men spotting me were my brothers, but we had not lifted together for a long time. It was a Thanksgiving workout. I certainly did not blame them.

And I will say that although that 340 was the most I had ever benched, I have made 335 a couple of times in the past. It was a PR that I was going for.

I will probably stick with the elbows tucked method. I am 46 years old, and my shoulders can’t take to much abuse.