T Nation

Confused On Bench Press Form

I’m a little confused about bench press form. My reading and talking to bodybuilders has turned up two opinions on form:

  1. Lower the bar all the way to the chest, working the chest hard and hitting the anterior deltoid and clavicular head of the pectoralis major.

  2. Lower the bar just enough that the arms form a 90 degree angle, mostly hitting the pectoralis major’s sternal head. This one prevents shoulder injuries, and allows one to lift more weight.

Do I understand these two views correctly, and is there really much danger of damaging the shoulder by bringing the bar down low? And which method is more likely to make my chest get bigger?

Flaring elbows will make your chest bigger, but I don’t like it cause it also hurts my chest. I use the tuck method. For my chest I use dumbbells. Not near as hard on you.

[quote]supabeast wrote:
I’m a little confused about bench press form. My reading and talking to bodybuilders has turned up two opinions on form:

  1. Lower the bar all the way to the chest, working the chest hard and hitting the anterior deltoid and clavicular head of the pectoralis major.

  2. Lower the bar just enough that the arms form a 90 degree angle, mostly hitting the pectoralis major’s sternal head. This one prevents shoulder injuries, and allows one to lift more weight.

Do I understand these two views correctly, and is there really much danger of damaging the shoulder by bringing the bar down low? And which method is more likely to make my chest get bigger?[/quote]

Where did you read #2? Tuck your elbows and go all the way down. Lifting more weight instantly isn’t the point. You shouldn’t go to the gym to demonstrate strength, but to build it.

There is also the method powerlifters use, which will add a lot to your bench when you learn to do it correctly.

That’s all I could find on my quick little search for a good site online to explain it, but maybe check out www.elitefts.com

Finding a low groove and staying in it is pretty essential, too.

But as to your original question, there are several types of benches, including using bands for resistance, and board presses, with boards placed on your chest, making it only possible to lower the bar a certain distance, and then requiring an explosive push upwards. Standard and competition form requires that the bar touch the chest (not bounce), before beginning ascent.

[quote]tveddy wrote:
Flaring elbows will make your chest bigger, but I don’t like it cause it also hurts my chest. I use the tuck method. For my chest I use dumbbells. Not near as hard on you.[/quote]

i use dumbells as well. for years i never got good pec development even though i had perfect form and decently heavy weight. i switched to dumbells, and all of a sudden i had huge friggin pecs. IMO, dumbells provide better isolation, and don’t use as much shoulders and triceps. also, and maybe most important, when you use dumbells you can “squeeze” the pec and really focus on the muscle contraction. Unlike barbells, you can really squeeze your pec to make the weight move.

[quote]youngguns516 wrote:
tveddy wrote:
Flaring elbows will make your chest bigger, but I don’t like it cause it also hurts my chest. I use the tuck method. For my chest I use dumbbells. Not near as hard on you.

i use dumbells as well. for years i never got good pec development even though i had perfect form and decently heavy weight. i switched to dumbells, and all of a sudden i had huge friggin pecs. IMO, dumbells provide better isolation, and don’t use as much shoulders and triceps. also, and maybe most important, when you use dumbells you can “squeeze” the pec and really focus on the muscle contraction. Unlike barbells, you can really squeeze your pec to make the weight move.[/quote]

I like them because I can get deeper than with a bar. Cause I don’t have a cambered bar.

I like the dumbbells, and use them for inclines, but for flat presses using dumbbells hurts my rotator cuff.

supabeast, try using a neutral grip on flat db bench to avoid pain. In all likelihood though if it was the actual rotator cuff causing pain then BB bench would be worse than DBs.

Also use push-ups (progress from pushups to pushups plus to explosive pushups to open-chain, IE bench, work) to rehab.

Anyway I am a fan of all types of benching…close-grip tucked elbows, wide flared-grip to neck, one-arm DB, flat db, incline db, etc, etc.