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How close should the elbows be tucked in?

I was on the dolfzine website where Coach Davis publish an article and he stated:

"From a technical standpoint we must insure that the the Bench Press be performed with the elbows tucked in as opposed to what is often done in Bodybuilding circles, with elbows flared wide. By performing the lift in this manner we activate the lats and triceps more with significantly greater stability and safety in the overall shoulder capsule and increased numbers in the lift. "

My question is how tucked in should the elbows be? When I do close grip bench press I keep my elbows to my side maybe 3 or 4" away from my side. On a normal benching set my elbows are no where near that close (more like 6" or further, my elbows are at like 45 degree or so). I was just wonder what people takes are on it. Im not lifting to compete so I want to do what ever is safest for my shoulders.

Email me and I’ll send you a picture of a correct close-elbows position.

My email is thibaudeau@ironmag.com by the way

For bodybuilding, what is “correct” is a function of your goal. Different elbow positions (and grips) stimulate different regions of the pec. One simply adjusts the weight to compensate for those positions that are less “safe.”

hmm, a direct quote. Okay - this isnt referring to close grip Bench Press but the method of how I prefer to Bench Press. Does that make a little more sense. Feel free to discuss. In faith, Coach Davies

Thank you guys for the input. I didn’t mean anything to copy your qoute directly Coach Davis. Its just I’ve been reading alot of places (westside, etc.) saying to keep your elbows close. The last thing I read which I copied was yours. I just wanted to understand what close eblows was defined as in position of the elbow.

I’m a little confused. When I press, my upper arms are parallel with the bar; from the description, this doesn’t sound like what you are talking about. Could you further explain the method you advocate with respect to elbow angle in relation to the bar (when I press, my elbow is at 0 degrees) and grip width. From what I gather, you are not advocating a close grip.

I'm just confused, sorry.


My form is exactly the same as Joel. It is my understanding by keeping the arms closer to the body weight will first go down then increase due to use of lats and learning movement etc. Does this matter if your primary goal is hypertrophy?

Chris - flattered that you quote me. I think your concern as was Joels, was pointed-out by James perfectly when he noted that positioning of the elbows was a function of the goal. The method that I use that Chris quoted is what I feel will amongst other reasons maintain a significantly more stability in the the shoulder capsule. Does this explain?

In faith, Coach Davies

How close the elbows can be tucked is a function of grip width. Your grip width will be a function of your goals.
Tucking the elbows will increase tricep involvement. If this is what you want then the best tip to acheive the desired elbow angle is to “pull” the bar apart. When you do this you will notice that your elbow come in noticeably.