T Nation

Critique My Form: DL, BP, Face Pulls


I finally did what someone on this site advised beginners to do...

I keep my elbows tucked and use a partial ROM (it's a little more ROM than in a floor-press), because it seems my shoulders are somewhat fragile (after a while of doing BB military presses, it started feeling like my shoulders where about to separate from my body; after doing wide grip BP for a while, my shoulders hurt like hell...etc.)
Now my shoulders feel just fine (I started doing rotator cuff work; my flexibility is fine)

The seated row is badly designed, so I have to use the pull-down station. Do these look like face-pulls (i.e. can I substitute them for face-pulls?)

176 lb DL

215 lb DL

The disks at the gym are 16", and the knurling pattern doesn't allow semi-sumo- the bar has no knurling in the "middle" area (I've pulled semi-sumo for the past year)
At home my disks are 2.4" bigger (18.4"/46 cm total, 1 more cm than regulation size), and that allows me to use 20 pounds more... I'll post a vid of the DLs I do at home sometime later.

Strength to you,

P.S.: Now I see I hyper-extend my neck during DLs.


its hard to tell cuz of angle but aprox. where does the bar hit on your upper body when you bench? you seem to be coming down past your nipple line, which is fine with a bench shirt but raw is a bit different. personally, i like to have my feet under my hips but thats just personal, makes me feel stronger when i use leg drive.


Yes, a little below.


aim for the nipple line.



Well, Dave also seems to take the bar below the nipple line. OTOH, I didn't know I was supposed to flare a little when approaching lock-out. Thanks


yes, maybe he does. but dave tate is a powerlifter and aims to make benching more of a tricep move than a chest move. also, he has torn his pec and tries to remove that muscle from taking a large portion of the load by setting up to make it front delt and tricep dominant.

just because you see ONE video of ONE guy doing it ONE way doesnt mean thats how you should do it. learn to think critically.


Weird set up with the face pull, but I guess it works to an extent.

Make sure you are keeping your elbows higher during the pull. Even bring the rope attachment over to the pulldown machine and do it that way so you can get the right angle.


What is that lumpy thing hanging off the top of your head?

Serious note: be careful with the deads, you get sloppy at the end of the second vid, and let your shoulders roll forward. Now some people can get away with this, but I've also fucked up my trap doing the same shit.

Just some food for thought.

But that weight is very light for you, you are much stronger than the 225 you were pulling, fyi.


@actionboy: thanks, but, as I said, I want to have the most shoulder-friendly possible form when benching. Is it dangerous to bring the bar that low, or does it simply engage the chest less?

@countingbeans: any other hairstyle suggestion until my hair grows long enough for a simple ponytail? :slightly_smiling:
Well, with larger disks I pull 240 for 5...but every time I tried lifting 286...the bar hardly budged. So now I'll do for this what I do for bench and do one rep day and one heavy day...and try adding weight more often.

But with those disks, 235 for 3, the fourth hardly moved.

Another question: during my second set, around the third rep I felt like I couldn't maintain my IAP, despite the fact that my back seems straight.

Many thanks


it engages the chest less.

what are your goals:

1) big bench
2) big chest

if your answer is number 2 and you want to save your shoulders, switch to dumbbell press and drop bench (for the most part, everything has a place).


Big bench, and being able to do it until I'm 70 or so.

And this applies to every exercise and training program I ('ll ever) use: increase strength WITHOUT leading to injury. That's why sometimes I'm a little more conservative in weight progression. A little.

(yes, I know, injuries don't appear because you do an exercise, but because you don't do other required exercises-keep your body balanced, because you don't deload, and maybe take a bigger break once in a while -say 6 continuous weeks each year, like Dan John said etc.)

The more it engages the triceps and shoulders, the better for me (I want to do one arm push-ups with the elbow close to the body).

Strength to you


fair enough. in that case your approach isnt that off. obviously there is some stuff you can improve on. stay tight, get your feet under you a bit more, and stop pushing the bar back towards the rack. the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. i think in tates 6 week cure, he recommends pushing it backwards toward the rack but i think his more recent stuff advocates the opposite. i really liked his "so you think you can bench" series.


Just a thought on the bench position and shoulder pain... Since I have experienced this too. Watch Dave Tate's so you think you can bench series and pay special attention to getting a good arch (you aren't) and retracting your shoulder blades/squeezing your shoulder blades together and down. Doing this really changes the angles that your shoulder will have to move through and relieved a lot of discomfort for me. Once you do these things I bet you'll discover what leg drive is and how it works to improve your bench: either by pressing your heels down (if you tuck your feet up under your hips) or driving your toes into the ends of your shoes (if you find it is more comfortable to have your legs out in front of you). This should allow you to do full ROM.

On the Deadlift... You seem to have a long torso as do I. Does it feel kind of weird going past your knees on the way up? If so, I'd stick with the semi/modified sumo and forget about where the knurling is for now and just do what is right for your body/leverages (for what it's worth I have two fingers inside the knurling when I pull sumo). How tall are you?

Those face-pull variants you're doing make my shoulders hurt just watching them, and actually sitting at my desk and putting my shoulders in that position I can tell it would hurt me a bit. That said it may not bother you, but the point of face-pulls is to get some external rotation in the shoulder and you really aren't getting it when you do that. Is there not a tricep rope in your gym. If there is then ditch this movement and use the rope and do actual face-pulls. If there isn't a tricep rope then still DITCH this movement and do YTWLs with some DBs or plates in your hands.

Good luck

My 2 cents...


Could do dumbells, but....

I attribute all of my chest size to flat barbell. Never felt an exercise hit my pec better. Flaring the elbows is potentially more dangerous than performing the bench like Tate. You can get away with sloppier form when you don't have a lot of weight on the bar, but keep it up and when you get stronger you will have a greater risk of injury. My chest is destroyed today after yesterdays benching and I bench like a "powerlifter." Actually, besides a few sets of dips, all I do for chest is a few variations of barbell bench.

Chest is probably my best bodypart.


Your bench press grip is too wide if you are going to tuck your elbows in that much. There are shades of gray when tucking your elbows in. Your elbows can be flared (tough on shoulder usually), tucked by sides (CG Bench form) or anywhere in between. However, when your elbows are tucked in CG bench position or even in between flared and CG, your grip should be around shoulder width. Since your not doing a CG bench I would go a bit wider than shoulder width. Since your grip is too wide to tuck your elbows the way you are you are getting a bit of a moment arm at the forearm. Your humerus is externally rotating as you try to tuck with too wide a grip, causing the moment arm. I know those dont feel right for you. Forearm should be vertical.


@countingbeans: now did I see it actually looks like a lump. On a higher resolution it would look like a little tail. :slightly_smiling:

@jakerz96: it doesn't feel weird coming past the knees. It feels a little weird bending so much in order to grab the bar. And having a wider than shoulder width grip.
I'm 5'10" (178 cm). I can't forget about the knurling because I use a pronated grip, not an over-under (it feels weird, and I don't want to risk any torsion during the lift. BTW, the right side of the bar tends to touch the ground before the left, when I descend.)
And even to have only two fingers on the knurled area, I need too wide a stance. I might try this some more to see how it feels after a while.



Well first of all, you look emaciated. I would attribute that more than anything else to problems you may be having in the gym.

Secondly, if your shoulder joints hurt at the bottom of a bench press or after doing military presses, that indicates either a problem with your form or a dangerous muscle weakness, and the way you make that weakness even worse is by shortening the range of motion to avoid it (in other words strengthening everything OTHER than your weak point is a terrible idea).


ya totally, it was a general statement. when i bench im pretty chest dominant even with a powerlifting setup. the op wants a big bench and to save his shoulders so the DB work is a moot point in this case.


So, you say you want to be able to do all this stuff when you are 70, but then you don't want to disregard the knurling for now, while you don't have the right bar because you use a pronated grip etc... These two statements contradict each other. Either you want good form or not. I understand that it sucks when your equipment isn't good, but you should not let this make you suck. Grip strength will improve rapidly (trust me on this). Drop some weight for a while and get in the right position biomechanically to deadlift. You are leaned way forward and if you go back to a semi sumo stance and move your hands in so your arms are perpendicular to the floor it will accomplish this.