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Please, Help With My Bench!

Alright, I’m 19 and I’ve been lifting since a couple months before I turned 15. I’m 6’3", 275 but I carry the weight decently well and I have a really big barreled chest. I consider myself an all-around strong guy, and when I played football in high school I had good field strength.

The only lift I’ve EVER had a problem with, the only lift I could never excell at no matter how much effort I put in (and it was a whole damned lot) was the flat bench press. Now man I’m big, I’m not saying that to be conceited because believe me I’m far from it, but the reaction I get from people when they first meet me, and a lot of them are weightlifters too, is “Damn, you’re huge.”

Not like bodybuilder but my over all build. People see my chest as big as it is and my decent tris, and seem to never mind my puny shoulders and think immediately I’m a 350 bencher. I look it man, but I’ve never been able to get a double at 225. My biggest single was a pretty easy 230.

It’s the most embarrassing thing in the world to me. I even bought that stupid critcal bench system and I got a hell of a lot stronger in everything, my military press shot up about 10 reps, but my bench started at 225 and ended at a slightly easier 225.

Now my old man was a pretty popular local bodybuilder in Sacramento but the bench was never his thing. 600 on ass to grass squats for reps, 700 deads for reps, 400 barbell rows for reps but never really got past a bench single of a little over 400 (he did get to 500 but his boy Dianabol helped him out).

He told me from the time I was 6 that I wouldn’t be the best bencher in the gym. I understand that but I still want progress you know. My bench ain’t any bigger than it was 2 years ago.

Right now I follow the WS4SB routine an I love it. I fell stronger than I ever have and my 185 bench reps have gone up from somethin’ like 3 to in the double digits. I just maxed out tonight, and couldn’t hit the second rep at 225.

I have weak, small shoulders but when I bench my entire chest feels strong, my tris feel great, my shoulders feel so-so but the biggest weaklink I feel is that spot along the outer edge of your chest right below where the front delt is. That spot right there feels wobbly and weak.

When I bench I don’t do the whole tuck your elbows right next to your lats and bring it to your lower chest thing. I don’t drive with my legs either or lift my butt off the bench. I try to keep the bar right underneath my nipples with my elbows straight up and my pinkies on the rings.

But whenever I try to max out, as soon as I unrack the weight (which I need a lift off on because doin’ it by myself feels very stressful to my shoulders)the first thing my elbows do are fold in and the bar travels down to my upper stomach. That outter pec area just doesn’t seem like it can hold any weight.

Even when I do skull crushers the shit feel wobbly.

I’m sorry this is such a long post and I’m whinin’ like a little ass bitch but I just really want some help and answers man. When I do my reps at 185 I can keep my elbow angle through out, But anything over 200 my elbows shoot right in and the bar takes a completely different plane from what I want.

I started implementing some incline dumbell press, elbows out and I like the feel but I just want some help.

man I feel your pain, I had to fight for each pound on my bench press. I don’t have a huge one 230 at 190lbs I am 6"3. What helped me the most was benching more often. Every “off” day before my interval and srtiking training, I would warm up on the bench and do 3 singles at around 90% of my max.

just make sure you aren’t struggling too much the press should be smooth, once you feel realy comfortable with the weight, then go up in the smallest increment you can. I worked really well for me.

There’s your problem right there. You may look like you can bench a ton, but until you do exactly what you’re NOT doing, you won’t have a whole lot in the way of progress.

If you know to tuck your elbows, use your lats, bring it to your chest and get leg drive, that right there is half the battle. If you know what you have to do to improve, why not do it?

“He told me from the time I was 6 that I wouldn’t be the best bencher in the gym.”

With this little gem running through your head when your back hits the bench, it’s no wonder you’re having issues.

Learn to forget that crap and pick up some of the EliteFTS/Westside vid’s on benching.

Try the blast your bench program it could do wonders.

Last time I used it it didnt do shit, but the time before that it added 40lbs to my bench in 3 weeks

[quote]LUEshi wrote:
When I bench I don’t do the whole tuck your elbows right next to your lats and bring it to your lower chest thing. I don’t drive with my legs either or lift my butt off the bench. I try to keep the bar right underneath my nipples with my elbows straight up and my pinkies on the rings.

There’s your problem right there. You may look like you can bench a ton, but until you do exactly what you’re NOT doing, you won’t have a whole lot in the way of progress.

If you know to tuck your elbows, use your lats, bring it to your chest and get leg drive, that right there is half the battle. If you know what you have to do to improve, why not do it?[/quote]

Exactly, you’re using a bodybuilding style approach of lifting the weight, focusing on contraction of your chest and the ‘feeling’ of the lift. Rather than just putting up the weight.

Thats probably why you’re chest is big, because your technique for building it is very good. To put up more weight you need to use more muscles.

Try focusing on a powerlifting bench style for a while and see how you do.

Dude I was in a similar postion like 4 months ago. I was just sticking with the same weight repping it too long. Then one day i was like what the hell add put 200lbs on the bar and go for reps. What i found out was all along i could rep that just as many times as i could the 185lbs lol It was all in my head to only do 5 reps with the 185lbs that i never moved foward. But now my bench went from 205lbs to 235lbs.

my bodyweight: 170
12% bf

I feel your pain.

I was stuck at 225 for years, then using Westside style I went up to 275-285 (depending on energy) but have been stuck there for a long time.

I figured that volume was the answer for me - Westside just didn’t give me enough of it. So I started this yesterday:

http://www.T-Nation.com/findArticle.do?article=05-001-training

I’m putting all my other lifts on hold for eight weeks as I push into the 300’s.

But my answer for you is the same as what the others have said. If you are interested in poundage, then ditch the BB-style bench press and learn to tuck your elbows, arch your back, and use leg drive.

Bench press is a full body exercise.

[quote]LUEshi wrote:
When I bench I don’t do the whole tuck your elbows right next to your lats and bring it to your lower chest thing. I don’t drive with my legs either or lift my butt off the bench. I try to keep the bar right underneath my nipples with my elbows straight up and my pinkies on the rings.

There’s your problem right there. You may look like you can bench a ton, but until you do exactly what you’re NOT doing, you won’t have a whole lot in the way of progress.

If you know to tuck your elbows, use your lats, bring it to your chest and get leg drive, that right there is half the battle. If you know what you have to do to improve, why not do it?[/quote]

He is right, no magic “program” is going to help you. Your technique sucks. If you want to bench big you have to bench like the big raw benchers. Do Hornstra and Winters tuck their elbows? Your damn right they do. The program you are on will do more for your bench than any of these other blast your bench or put 40 pds. on your bench in 40 days nonsense.

Just remember, it will only work if you correct technique flaws and do the one thing that must be done in westside training to really make it work, WORK ON THE WEAK SPOT. Nine times out of ten when you hear someone spouting off about how they tried westside and it doesn’t work or you have to juice to do it, they wasted their time playing to their strengths and doing shit they were good at already instead of working on what they suck at.

Are you trying to look good or bench a shitload? There is a difference between working chest and being a big bencher. Also, triceps are the most important part of a big bench, raw or shirted, they should be your number one priority. Make sure you are using boards, chains, and as you progress mini-bands on your ME upper day.

Alternate a partial with a full-range movement every other week. You may lose strength in the beginning by tucking your elbows, but the end result is a MUCH BIGGER BENCH,guaranteed. Trust me, this is a change for the better and is a MUCH SAFER alternative, espescially when you start hitting those big benches. Good Luck!

[quote]E60 wrote:
“He told me from the time I was 6 that I wouldn’t be the best bencher in the gym.”

With this little gem running through your head when your back hits the bench, it’s no wonder you’re having issues.

Learn to forget that crap and pick up some of the EliteFTS/Westside vid’s on benching.[/quote]

That’s not in my head when I lift, if anything I’m thinking the exact opposite because if I think of that I know I ain’t got a chance.

I don’t really care about looking good or nothin’ like that, I just wanna push weight. I’m definitely not saying Westside doesn’t work, it’s worked better than anything, and I used that stupid CB program before I even knew about Westside. The reason I didn’t stick to the whole elbows tucked deal and all that is because I really only believed it applied to shirt benchers, and I have no interest in shirts. And most of the raw benchers I’ve seen shoot their elbows out (like that dude in that thread posted not too long ago), but I guess I wasn’t watching the best ones.

Also on Defrancos site you see a lot of elbows out but maybe that’s just the dude lifting’s style. I believe in hard work and all that definitely, but I’m real quick to look for magic answers, and that’s something I’m trying to break myself of but it still happens.
So I’m just gonna stick to my elbows in and more lat control and just stick with it 'til my magic happens. Thanks for everything though

I find that focusing less on elbows and more on a hard arch, plus lowering the bar to the sternum helped me with my elbows more than anything else.

Look for a big bench not only do you need strong pecs but massive lats shoulders and tris. do not neglect any of those muscles or you will find your self at a constant plateuo. Another thing is if you are lifting naturaly be patient, get a strong lifting partner and go heavy try force repping 225 for five reps with a spot as your last set. If your muscles get used to heavy weight then your lifts should sky rocket. Let me know how this goes for you.

[quote]AssClown wrote:
E60 wrote:
“He told me from the time I was 6 that I wouldn’t be the best bencher in the gym.”

With this little gem running through your head when your back hits the bench, it’s no wonder you’re having issues.

Learn to forget that crap and pick up some of the EliteFTS/Westside vid’s on benching.

That’s not in my head when I lift, if anything I’m thinking the exact opposite because if I think of that I know I ain’t got a chance.

I don’t really care about looking good or nothin’ like that, I just wanna push weight. I’m definitely not saying Westside doesn’t work, it’s worked better than anything, and I used that stupid CB program before I even knew about Westside. The reason I didn’t stick to the whole elbows tucked deal and all that is because I really only believed it applied to shirt benchers, and I have no interest in shirts. And most of the raw benchers I’ve seen shoot their elbows out (like that dude in that thread posted not too long ago), but I guess I wasn’t watching the best ones.

Also on Defrancos site you see a lot of elbows out but maybe that’s just the dude lifting’s style. I believe in hard work and all that definitely, but I’m real quick to look for magic answers, and that’s something I’m trying to break myself of but it still happens.
So I’m just gonna stick to my elbows in and more lat control and just stick with it 'til my magic happens. Thanks for everything though

[/quote]

You will see big benches with elbows out, but this is the exception not the norm. Ask Defranco what he teaches, tucked, I guarantee it. Some guys do flare, more power to them, most big raw benchers with knowledge don’t. Who are the two biggest raw benchers now? Hornstra and Winters both bench tucked and for two reasons, the first is it is safer and the second is YOU CAN BENCH MORE. The reason is your triceps have tons of usually unused potential to handle the heavy loads. Tucking elbows has nothing to do with wearing a shirt, I hate it when people say that. What you are doing isn’t working,there is a reason for this. Are you going to keep beating a dead horse looking for the tooth fairy to wave a magic wand and hopefully it will happen or are you going to be the type person who adapts to criticism, makes the necessary changes, STUDIES the game with an open mind and ends up with the big bench. Am I the all knowing authority, NO, but I have a good raw bench, that I have increased significantly through working on my technique and weaknessess! You also are going to have to change your attitude. I almost want to cry after reading some of your posts. You have to build a raw bench from the foundation up and the foundation is attitude, if it is weak so goes the bench. PM me if you need any help. Good luck!

Kudos to your honesty.

Now if your honesty is backed up with a real desire to improve your bench as you say, go back and re-read all the advice you have received to now. All good posts that are basically hitting the same chord. That is, if you want to bench large numbers, you have to train to bench big numbers. Make no mistake, this is different than the way 95% of the gym trains the bench.

If you truely want to take this journey, start by analysis. First- take a look at the equipment that you are benching on. If it is not around 12 inches wide and about 18 from floor to top of pad, find one that is. Also, and more importantly to you, look at the pad itself. Is the pad crowned?

Meaning does it round over on the side edges. This may seem like a whole lot of noise over a silly bench but think about it… you are a big guy trying to fit on something less than a third your size and be rock solid stable on it. If the equipment will not easily allow you to do this the body will have to compensate.

That means that your lower back and torso will be struggling to balance itself by using the only means it has to do so-provide counter-balance with the extended limbs. That means as you have the bar over you, your shoulders/front delts/lats are going to be tweaked in an effort to maintain balance and stability. Sound familiar?

Next question. Ask yourself “What do I know about the bench press?” Write down your response to this on a sheet of paper… no kidding, really do it!!! I’ll wait… Okay, got it?

Good, now take that piece of paper and crumble it up into a ball. Dont throw it away but put it somewhere where you can go back to it in a year or so. Look, benching for large numbers is its own animal. If this is what you want to go after, you must acknowlege this and realize that you need to learn a different event with its own form and function. When it comes to technique and small details and fine tuning, the bench is an onion of many, many layers. The deeper you get into it, the more you will find.

Not to worry though. This is an evolving, learning experience and the only thing you need at the start is what you have right now, desire.

To get going down this road, I think you first need to get past this perceived plateau of 225. I wont write this all out but I can help you on this if you want to PM me.

I will, howerver, give you the closest thing there is to a real-world magic cure though… I will give you four little gems from the Gods of Powerlifting. They are not a “cure” but when used right, they can make your numbers go up like magic.

  1. When you set up to bench, always use a full grip with your thumb wrapping the bar(as opposed to the false grip with the thumb tucked behind the bar). Now the secret is to position the bar LOW in your palm and not high-closer toward your knuckles. By doing this you are trying to stimulate the “ulnar response”.

See there is a nerve bundle that runs through the low, meaty part of your palm that when stimulated, fires the extenders in an effort to straighten your arm. Aint science nifty?

  1. Squeeze the bar!!! Descend with the weight using as little muscular effort and tension as is SAFE and possible-then when you are ready to press, squeese the bar as hard as you can with both hands on the way up.

  2. Pin your traps down on the bench. Without getting into set-up and posture on the bench, in these early stages concentrate on keeping your traps pinned to the bench, your shoulder blades pulled back like you are trying to touch them together(this expands your chest and makes the distance the bar has to travel shorter among other things), butt up under you as much as you can to give yourself some arch, and plant your feet FIRMLY under you to provide rock solid support and allow you to drive.

  3. Learn to power breathe! On lifts that are near or at personal best, power breathing can mean the difference between success and failure.

These little tips will help you shatter 225. Where you do you go from there? My best advice is to hook up with some powerlifters locally. There is no substitute for personal attention when it comes to re-working your bench. I also know what it is like to be in an area where you have no one that fits this bill.

If you find yourself in this situation, keep studying-there is an encylopedia of knowledge available on line and this will help get you started. Then take this knowledge and go recruit/transition some of the locals into the fold. It is not as hard as you think. One or two trips into the gym with a three-board and gaurantee you will have people coming up to you asking what it is for and what it does. Take it from there…

Keep us posted…

YIELD NOT!

Read this:

http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=459808

Then read it again.

Know it.

Do it. (All of it.)

Following the advice in this article has helped my bench immensely. After 5 or 6 weeks, my max went up about 20%.

Doing all the technical stuff: pinching the lats, tucking the elbows planting feet in proper place, etc., felt awkward at first; I even felt weaker. But once you get it down, I guarantee it will help you.

Thanks for all this help fellas. Yeah man I have to be honest with everybody because I want a real diagnosis you know what I’m sayin’. I was really stuck on the more body-building style of bench because that’s what a lot of people consider a “real” raw bench.

I need to stop listenin’ to that shit though man ‘cause I really need to get some real weight goin’. I’m gonna just go with what you’re all sayin’ and fuck them dudes that always say shit like “that’s not a real bench.”

And about my whole mental outlook, I always kept it positive before a lift because I didn’t wanna just intentionally lead to failure. I always come in with that “big weight, big weight” mentality but the deal with that was that there wasn’t any real weight. But thanks for all this help, everybody gets a dollar :slight_smile:
Peace

Overhead press. Shoulder isolation work. [as well as the other suggestions]. Work on your weakness. Shoulders play a big role in benching.

Not to keep beating a dead horse but… just out of curiosity, where do you lose the lift when you are at sinlgle rep max?

It’s anywhere between bottom and 4 inches off. I understand where each muscle plays it’s biggest role in the bodybuilding style bench and that’s why I was bitching about that space on the outside of my pecs earlier. It never feels tight or springy. I like springy :slight_smile:

Nothing else helpful to add. I just realized that I could call you Ass Clown and you can’t get offended. Ha ha. Bye Ass Clown.

By the way just what is an ass clown? Is it literally the ass of a clown? Or perhaps an ass made to look like a clown? Anyone? Any ass clown enthusiasts out there that can shed some light on this mystery?