T Nation

Dave Tate Bench Press for Bodybuilding?


After reading some of the Dave Tate articles and watching his videos, I plan to adopt his method of benching to avoid any potential chest or shoulder injury caused by incorrect form.

On the other hand, I don't plan to get into powerlifting. Since this type of benching places less emphasis on the pecs, will I sacrifice gains in this area?

For those of you who bodybuild, what do you advise?


My 2 cents ?

When you bench, bench.

You want to build up your chest ? Do something else.

So I'd say listen to Dave Tate. That is THE way to bench. Then do something else for your pecs; DB presses, Squeeze presses, Incline BB, standing cable presses...These work your chest more directly.


I like abels bodybuilding style bench press. Its on youtube. Id post it but not sure how from my phone.

Just search abel body bodybuilding bench press.


CT also explains the bench press in video data base on this site. Good explantion good on the shoulders and activates the chest win win


The question is this

Does barbell bench press effectively hit YOUR pecs?

If yes, do it in such a way that prevents you from getting injured.

If no, dont do it.


I always like doing some overhead pressing before benching. Fatigues the shoulders a bit and afterwards I can always feel my chest pretty good on the bench (even when doing it in a very powerlifter-esque style). Make sure you go wide enough to get a little stretch at the bottom, but not so wide that it strains your shoulders.


you could try this...

do the setup exactly as tate instructs in the video, then when you go to lower the weight flare your elbows (rather than tucking them)for more pec recruitment. getting the setup how he explains should help save your rotater cuffs but keep in mind flat BB can be dangerous for pec tears.


I bench like tate mostly, my grip is a bit wider recently but i used that way for a while.

For me however no matter what form i have ill feel it in my chest no matter what. I usually do low reps on bench like 1-3 and even on the sets of 1 rep i get a chest pump.

If you dont feel it in your chest and you dont want a big bench/are not a powerlifter then drop it there are better things.

Im someone who wants a big bench so if i did not feel it at all in my chest then i would probably do bench first in the muscle i feel it in the most and do it heavy, then move onto my other exercises for that muscle


This, and if so, then this:


Thanks all. I've never felt any shoulder or chest pain on bench despite using bodybuilder form and lower reps (4-6 with many singles and doubles).

I'm really cautious and back off immediately when I feel any pain on exercises, but based on what I've read about pec tears, there are often no warning signs.

If I do keep my elbows tucked on BB bench, can I safely use a more conventional form for dumbbells with elbows flared out? What about incline BB? Are these less susceptible to pec tears?

Should I ditch the pec deck and dumbbell flies?


I agree, maybe think of the bench as a power move (+dead and squat), practice it like a powerlifter would, go heavy, and then move on to 2-3 more exercises to build up your chest (incline DB press + cable flyes etc..). this is the essence of power bodybuilding and for guys who like to lift heavy i believe is a perfect mix of strength and size..

IMO Tate's "so you think you can bench" video demonstrates the best bench form to keep you going pain free.


I tried the Dave Tate method today for the first time and my 1RM bench went up 10 lbs immediately from a wobbly 295 to a smooth 305. I didn't expect to see results immediately.

The position is a bit awkward, but the tightness and solid foundation feel great and add confidence. I now realize how bad my form was previously.

I didn't keep my elbows as tucked as he does, but my triceps were still exhausted after 6-8 sets.


if you are activating the lats on the decent and press, you shouldn't have to actively think about tucking the elbows. the tuck will happen naturally. the mistake many make on benching correctly is to worry about tucking when they should be thinking about activating the lats.


Good post, I had a shoulder injury and it prevented me from benching for a long time then when I learned how to recruit the lats the pain was gone - you dont want your elbows out wide when benching if youre worried about your shoulders, thats for sure.


After I bench I do accessory movements. 4x a month I do wide grip guillotine bench. I drop my weight down to 225 for it, but I still feel it in my chest.


Thanks...I will keep this in mind the next time I bench.


Personally, I think bench pressing in such a way that you're using your entire body to maximize the amount of weight lifted (a weight your chest couldn't otherwise handle) is going to cause far more injuries than the alternative of just benching with a controlled strict bodybuilding style where your chest muscles are doing most of the work.

Dave Tate is a great powerlifter, but he isn't a bodybuilder, and furthermore his chest development is awful compared to the rest of him. If you want to build up your chest, why don't you take the advice of guys that have really big chests? (hint: they don't bench with super arching elbow tucked powerlifting style).


To be fair to Dave, he has torn his pecs a number of times.

Also without wanting to get into semantics why isn't he a BB? He hasn't done PL for a while and has been training exclusively Mountain Dog style for ages. He competed in BB when he was younger too.


Dave tore his pecs a billion times benching... Standard BB style.

Same goes for almost every other pec tear I know of.

If you try to bench with powerlifting technique and end up having the pecs do MORE work, then something ain't right.


Also... Just don't pull the bar apart when you bench, problem solved. Okay, maybe don't arch more than you naturally would for stability/shoulder blade tuck (guys with long arms might find a bigger arch nicer on the shoulders). Don't tuck the elbows in all the way at the bottom.

Or just make the flat bench a strength exercise and hit your chest with HammerStrength stuff, DB's, flyes (if that's your cup of tea) and so on... Then you can use whatever benching technique feels safest and strongest and not worry about this sort of thing...