T Nation

My Turn for Bench Feedback

Working on my poverty bench like that other guy. Ha.

Hit a strong new PR. 280 x 2.

Other than butt lifting (can’t quite tell if I left the bench), and a bit of flare near lockout not the second rep, what else do you see here.

The most concerning thing is your spotter holding the bar. You can’t really count a lift if someone was touching the bar, even if they say it was all you.

Other than that, the elbow flare doesn’t really look concerning. It looks like you struggled a bit and let the bar drift bar towards your face, which is normal. As long as you don’t lose the bar backwards or hurt your shoulders then it’s fine.

Try moving your feet out wider if you have a tendency to lift your ass off the bench.

Your technique mostly looks fine to me, there are no glaring errors. The main thing that will get your bench up is adding upper body mass, particularly to the pecs and triceps. Some shoulder work won’t hurt either. What does your bench training look like at the moment?

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Yeah I didn’t know he had his hands on the bar, which is weird cause he’s an experienced powerlifter and coach. I’ll talk to him about it.

Training bench 2x week, conjugate method. Heavy days on Wednesdays with rotating accessory work, and Sundays speed day.

My bench stagnated for months and I got it going again with a steady diet of heavy dips and heavy tricep work. My weak point is around a 3 board height. I’m told this is the ‘handoff’ zone, where chest and shoulders handoff the weight to the triceps. So with that in mind I scaled back on accessory work and concentrated on going heavy as possible to really work my triceps and it seems to be paying off.

Even though I’m pushing now for a 500 lb squat and a 600 lb deadlift, I was stuck thinking that a 300 lb bench was a pipe dream. But I think it’s right around the corner. So I’m happy about that.

I’ll try widening my stance.

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What other assistance exercises have you been using? There seems to be a trend amongst people who use the conjugate method to focus on triceps and neglect the pecs and bottom end strength, this makes sense for equipped lifting but not really for raw. And if you have been working your triceps hard with mediocre results then the logical solution is too work on what you have been neglecting. The more speed you can generate at the bottom, the faster the bar will be moving when you reach the sticking point and less chance you will get stuck. Louie has written articles talking about how he used wide grip bench for high reps to build his bench, him and Josh Bryant have both said not to go lower than 6 reps because there is a higher risk of injury. Also, you could pause each rep to really focus on driving off the chest.

Louie and Dave Tate have mentioned how they used to do high rep dumbbell presses after their ME lift, this would also be a good way to build up your chest. Dead bench is another good exercise for bottom end strength, more for the neural aspects than for hypertrophy. Do multiple singles with moderate weight and short rest periods, and don’t use this as a ME exercise.

Some shoulder work might pay off too, Josh Bryant is currently coaching several of the top benchers in the world and he has all of them doing overhead pressing. One idea that would kill two birds with one stone, from Louie again, is seated OHP off pins. He says that this exercise will force you to use the lateral head of the triceps, which is “dormant” in most people. Plus it’s shoulder work at the same time.


My strength off the chest is pretty good. We do a lot of pause benching and my favorite, paused Spoto.

I used to fail just of the chest. Now I feel like I generate the power off the chest but my triceps are lacking. This is why I think my bench started moving again with heavy tri work and dips

Illegal wide grip benching is regular in my program too . I enjoy wide grip as I feel like I can handle the same weight as I can in my regular bench.

I don’t do a lot of direct shoulder work. So perhaps I can incorporate those movements back into accessories. The overhead press off pins sounds like an interesting accessory to bring in

Your chest could still be the weakest link though. A lot of people think that their chest is only weak if they’re slow off the chest, but you need a strong chest as the top as well. Triceps are extremely important for sure, but the chest work is equally important. Like Chris said, the triceps idea was mostly built off geared lifting. You need them strong, but the westside obsession started from shirts.

And yeah, shoulder work is a good idea as well. Look into Burley Hawk’s articles about westside for raw lifters. He spits out a lot of good knowledge for it.

It still sounds like you’re not doing much chest-specific work, other than wide grip bench. If you are able to generate more force off the chest then the bar will slow down higher where the triceps are able to contribute more, so there is less chance of failing the lift an you should be able to lift more. I would do both bottom end-specific exercises like dead bench or long pauses plus plenty of volume for the pecs with stuff like dumbbell bench and flys.

I have no citations or credentials;

Wide Grip. " Easier" to engage chest at bottom. Chest is loaded on descent. Triceps are Dis Advantaged at the bottom. They don’t kick in until the Handoff Zone, or later!

Narrow Grip. Triceps loaded on descent, tension on Tri’s at bottom. “Easier” to use Tri’s at the bottom. Pecs are “unloaded” or Disadvantaged at bottom, and can’t really kick in until the top.

Simulatanious Close and Wide Grip lets you get tension everywhere are use all muscles.

Triceps were always cool. Way before bench shirts. Excessive elbow tucking came from shirts. You Gotta keep the elbows out to use the Tri’s maximally, raw.


Dumbbell presses for high reps can help you learn to keep tension on chest and Tri’s with the hands inside elbows position.



Josh Bryant, dumbbells, Pecs, Tris, Bands, Tension and Overload!

Makes sense. Wide grip, paused bench, spoto presses, dumbbell (flat incline decline) presses are all staples in my training.

But It sounds like shoulder work and dead presses need to be rotated in.

I’m gonna continue dips and heavy tricep work cause they seem to be working.

any thoughts here?

From today, another PR.

Over all it looks pretty good. Are your shoulder blades retracted? It’s hard to tell without seeing your setup but your GHJ seems a little more anterior than I would expect if they were.

Also, keep your legs tight and flex your butt the whole time not just during your leg drive.

On both reps you start but gliding the bar toward your head rather than pushing up, while it’s okay (Especially raw) to move the bar toward your head a bit you don’t want to waste energy gliding it like that, press it and let the anatomy take it upward as it rises.


Thanks Stu, those were heavy reps for me so of course that’s where form starts to break down.

My setup is purposeful and uncomfortable. I know I start with my shoulders retracted but some have told me that even retracted I have a tendency to let them move toward my ears rather than keeping them ‘tucked in my back pocket’. This may be what you are seeing.

I don’t press to boards very often and it’s harder for me to stay in the groove for some reason.

Was that supposed to be English?


That was 280 x 0. Spotter touching the bar takes weight off.

Sorrystrong text

Wide grip bench is completely specific to the power lift, and is one of the most effective chest builders there is, better than doing pec dec etc.
Why would you do flys etc? The only reason I can see is for a new stimulus, but that new stimulus is going to cause motor units to adapt to a totally irrelevant angle.
The only time it could be “useful” is months before a meet as GPP, in case you’ve adapted to wide grip too much, but it’s not good advice to say wide grip is not optimal since wide grip is the most optimal movement for strengthening pectorals and is completely specific to the sport. .

Yes, I should follow advice from a guy with a 165 bench when I’m on track to bench 400 in April.

After a slump, Bench Progress Continues!

Are you still doing what you were doing a few months ago, or has anything evolved lately?

I remember being surprised to see you were on some board presses.

I’m doing similar stuff but doing the exact same thing will only work for so long. I don’t remember which board presses you are referring to, before my last meet I was doing 2 board presses because I get stuck just past that height but it doesn’t seem to work. I do heavy 2 board close grip bench to build my triceps though, I figured it would help because the elbow angle is about the same as when I have the bar on my chest with my regular grip. It seems like a lot of people get caught up in either focusing only on triceps or thinking that triceps only matter for equipped benching and neglect them completely in favor of pecs and shoulders, in reality you need all those things to work.

Anyway, I have been doing some overhead pressing too, which I neglected for a long time. I pretty much always have either wide grip paused bench or dead bench to work on the bottom end, and I used isometrics to work on my sticking point. My rack isn’t bolted to the floor so I put my safety squat bar or another set of pins at the top of the rack with about 300lbs on it to keep things in place. I benched 375 a couple weeks ago but it was pretty easy, maybe could have got a double and definitely another 15lbs. My best before that was 370 and it was a near miss. I have about 14 weeks until the meet so I can definitely make some progress until then, but I also have to squat first so I don’t want to overestimate what I’m capable of.

Cookie Cutter won’t do, Make the work Chris-specific! I like it. Good luck with the Press and in the meet.

I’ve trying (or trying to try) to make my generic tricep work more like bench specific tricep work lately. The tension Close Grip, a little off the chest felt like it would carry over. I’m Glad to know it can work!

According to Josh Bryant, you want to have a mix of heavy compound lifts for triceps and high rep isolation-type work. Not everything has to be 100% specific, especially if hypertrophy is the objective.