T Nation

Help with Bar Placement and Form

I am having trouble with my wrists on bench press. For those of you who are knowledgeable, please read below and help me out.

4 years ago I started lifting over the summer. I was doing the usual arms and bench press routine that most people do. End of the summer, I had developed a cyst in my right wrist. It was operated on and removed. No real reason was given to me for it.

2 years ago, I started training properly. However, I never did barbell bench press because I had broken my right arm a year earlier and only used dumbbells to keep my arms even. My wrists never bothered me. This past summer, I had finally developed equal strength in my right arm as my left, and decided to start bench pressing. I benched for a while, and my wist started hurting a lot. This time it was the left one. The pain was severe and I went to the doctor and it turned out I had developed carpel tunnel syndrome from the nerve getting pinched by the weight. I got a cortisone injection. So I realized it was the bench press that was the problem.

I have been using dumbbells since then, until today, when my workout required me to do close grip bench press. I decided to do it since I have bought triple protection wrist straps from Elite FTS. I did 5 sets of 3 reps with 155 lbs. My right wrist is now hurting again.

It is extremely frustrating. I know that my form is messed up and that is why it happens. I know I place the the bar incorrectly. Initially, I used to completely fold my wrists back and put the weight on that. Now when I think I cringe at how stupid I was. I tried to keep my wrist straight today but I think I completely misplace the bar. I know my wrists are not weak because I do DB press with 100lbs dumbbells, which is significantly more weight than I put on the barbell today, and I never feel any pain in my wrists.

Could someone PLEASE help me and tell me EXACTLY where and how to place the bar. I am extremely frustrated and desperate. I just want to be able to go to the gym and work out and not worry about my wrists.

Thank you

Well you want the bar in line with your forearm so you can maximally transfer force. This means your wrist won’t be bent back. At least in my experience this is perfectly natural with DBs but not so much with the barbell. The wrist wraps should help quite a bit, especially since you’re not going heavy.

Before you put any weight on the bar lie down on the bench unrack the bar and lower it to your chest. At that point where bar meets chest your forearm should be roughly perpendicular to the floor. Your elbow should be pointing directly at the floor. Where-ever your hands are now placed on the bar is now your starting position every time you lie on the bench. This hand-position will vary depending on the length of your limbs.

When you lie on a bench with a pair of DBs you lower the weight your body will automatically put your forearms perp. to the floor. This is because you body realises it’s the most effective way to lower and press that weight back up.
This is is think(I could be wrong) why you feel pain with a BB and not a DB over your face.
Best of luck

How do you get carpal tunnel syndrome from the weight pushing on the wrist? This strikes me as ludicrous, although I might be missing something.

The only thing I can think of is to row and practice the Oly lifts. A while back, I remember reading an article from Pavel Tsatsouline about isometric contraction in the hand easing the repetitive motion strain that causes carpal tunnel syndrome in the first place. I’ve never seen it carried out though, so I have no firsthand knowledge of how well it works. I wish you the best of luck.

[quote]Fluid wrote:
End of the summer, I had developed a cyst in my right wrist. It was operated on and removed. No real reason was given to me for it.
[/quote]

These can develop at any time without a specific cause. Some people are more prone than others. Unfortunate I’m a “cysty” person and get them every couple years. Don’t bother getting them removed. It’s a waste of time and money. I made that mistake. I got my last one drained and it’s been just fine.

Is this really that bad? I ask because I’m pretty sure I do this when I bench too. Maybe not folded all the way back, but I don’t believe they’re straight.

[quote]sam_sneed wrote:

Is this really that bad? I ask because I’m pretty sure I do this when I bench too. Maybe not folded all the way back, but I don’t believe they’re straight.[/quote]

that does not sound right at all

This may be of some use