T Nation

Is This Right? Thoughts on Technique

I got a new job at a gym recently, and have some questions about what they are instructing me to do.

1.) I told them I do my pressing movements with my elbows sem-tucked (45% or so), but they said this is not correct. They said most clients are focusing on body composition, and by tucking the elbows, your switching the emphasis to the shoulders and triceps.

2.) They are telling me that a chinup or pulldown with a supinated grip is just a row with extended ROM.

3.) They tell me that the line of pull is very important. What I mean is that when your benching or rowing, or doing pullups, there is really only one grip width that you should be using. The width that puts your forearms parallel to the movement.

Other than that, I tend to agree with everything they are teaching. These aren’t major things to me, and they’ll let me somewhat create programs for my clients, but I wanted to see what you guys thought about these issues.

I always focus on movements and not muscles, like horizontal press, horizontal pull, vertical press, vertical pull, leg exercises, full body explosive exercises, etc… (I dont tend to see much need to complicate things by saying, “well i need to have my client do shoulder abduction in the horizontal plane” or something like that)

As far as targeting body parts, like keeping the elbows out during a press to target the chest, I feel that almost all beginners shouldn’t be targeting chest, and would benefit far more from targeting the pressing musculature. Later on down the line, they can target the chest with their elbows out or flys.

What do you guys think?

[quote]dankid wrote:
I got a new job at a gym recently, and have some questions about what they are instructing me to do.

1.) I told them I do my pressing movements with my elbows sem-tucked (45% or so), but they said this is not correct. They said most clients are focusing on body composition, and by tucking the elbows, your switching the emphasis to the shoulders and triceps.

2.) They are telling me that a chinup or pulldown with a supinated grip is just a row with extended ROM.

3.) They tell me that the line of pull is very important. What I mean is that when your benching or rowing, or doing pullups, there is really only one grip width that you should be using. The width that puts your forearms parallel to the movement.
[/quote]

1.) Tucking the elbows reduces the rotation of the humerus, thereby easing stress on the shoulders. Whether this’ll mean anything to non-powerlifters or recreational lifters over the long haul (or short-term), I can’t say.

I’d prefer to use the least stressful method when it comes to lifting (especially heavy benching) but maybe I’m crazy!

2.) Huh? So a row and a chinup/pullup are the same thing with only the ROM being different? That makes #3 incorrect.

3.) 99% Bullshit (1% being the line-of-pull part).

If #3 is true, how can #2 also be true? Either the line of pull (row vs. chin) is very important or it isn’t. They seem to contradict each other but I’m not surprised.

I love reading about all these absolutes with respect to the human body and it’s wonderous ways. Makes me laugh.

1 and 2 are correct for the most part. 2 is debatable.

I am from the school of thought that in the context of bodybuilding/physique building the focus should be on the muscles you are targeting and not the movement itself.

Ya i dont know what to make of this stuff. If the whole line of pull thing was important, then that would mean you could never closed grip bench, because theres only one grip width in which your forearms would be paralell to the line of action, and it isn’t close grip.

Im thinking they took this idea from olympic lifting and assumed it would be appplicable to everyone.

Asside from that issue, are you guys saying that elbows tucked is more stressful for the shoulders? Because EVERYWHERE i have read has said that elbows tucked is SAFER.

I was trying to say it was safer- less stressful with elbows tucked.

But like I said, the only place I saw that fact was in powerlifting circles.

But I’ll also add that many great theories and revelations have come to us from those very same powerlifting circles.

I’m not about to argue!

Elbow tucked is less stressful on the shoulder. Elbows out is harder.

As far as the line of pull thing it doesn’t mean there is only one grip width it basically means the forearms should be perpendicular to the ground. With close grip bench the grip is narrower but the elbows are tucked in. It just puts alot of stress on the joints if your hands are wider than your elbows. at least that is the way I read it.

[quote]dankid wrote:
I got a new job at a gym recently, and have some questions about what they are instructing me to do.

1.) I told them I do my pressing movements with my elbows sem-tucked (45% or so), but they said this is not correct. They said most clients are focusing on body composition, and by tucking the elbows, your switching the emphasis to the shoulders and triceps. [/quote]

I always hear this, but have not found it to be true for me at all. I like your 45 degree method better and find that if I get my elbows out much further than that that’s when my delts start to take over.

[quote]
2.) They are telling me that a chinup or pulldown with a supinated grip is just a row with extended ROM.[/quote]

There is some truth to this in my opinion, but is independent of what grip you use. If anything this would apply more to a neutral grip. However rowing will involve more lower back by far and it is entirely possible to get damn near the same ROM with rows if you set yourself up for it. The movements can be quite similar though.

[quote]
3.) They tell me that the line of pull is very important. What I mean is that when your benching or rowing, or doing pullups, there is really only one grip width that you should be using. The width that puts your forearms parallel to the movement.[/quote]

I don’t buy this one. I will say that VERTICAL line of pull is very important because you can over recruit the biceps or triceps if you’re pushing up or pulling down. Horizontal line of pull changes the emphasis on secondary groups and the shoulder joints, but that can actually be beneficial, again in my opinion.

Even with the elbows tucked, the line of action wont match up on a close grip bench, unless you bring the bar far below your chest. But I dont see why this is a problem. The torque created by the deviation from the line of action is what stresses the triceps. I guess if you want to stress a muscle less, then you should pay attention to the line of action?

I dont know about you guys, but i want to stress my muscles more.

If this line of pull thing were so important, tricep extensions and bicep curls would be impossible. Or does it not apply to single joint moves.

Lastly, it doesn’t work at all for lower body moves. Because we all know its impossible to squat with your back completely vertical, and with your tibias completely vertical.

I dunno what to make of this stuff. It sounds to me like they are doing what many “fitness experts” do. They take a sound concept, and beat it to death by making it a rule.

Thanks for the input guys, we’ll see how things go when I start working there.

I don’t even uderstand what this means:

The width that puts your forearms parallel to the movement.

[quote]dankid wrote:
Even with the elbows tucked, the line of action wont match up on a close grip bench, unless you bring the bar far below your chest. But I dont see why this is a problem. The torque created by the deviation from the line of action is what stresses the triceps. I guess if you want to stress a muscle less, then you should pay attention to the line of action? [/quote]

I see what you are saying, but I don’t think it applies to both plains. Meaning when I am doing close grip bench press, if you were looking at me perpendicular to the bar, then my elbows would be under my wrist through the entire movement. If you were standing to the side looking parallel to the bar then my wrist would not stay over my elbows. Probably not exactly, but close. If I bring my hands really close together where the they are not lined up on either plain, then this is extremely hard on my wrist and elbow joints. I really think this is only important on the heavier lifts.