T Nation

Question for the big boys...

Not that it means much around here, but, I just recently joined the 400lb./4 plate club, having benched 405 3 times, for 2 sets, with a wide grip, clean( i had at least 1 more in the hole, but, I didn’t have a spotter and didn’t want to kill myself.) It seemed to me, as it does in all my maximal effort lifts, that I had more than enough strngth, but, that my joints were going to fail. I felt the lift more so in my elbows, wrists and shoulders than in my pecs and tris. And when I do start to FEEL it, I get more of a lat burn, then upper pec, tris and front delts. I first thought that I didn’t have enough mass in my upper back, but I T-bar row with 4 plates and a 25 and do wide-grip chins and pullups. I’m 6’4", 290lbs but my chest is only 53 inches. I also have a 78inch reach, could that be the reason why I get so little chest involvement when I bench?

The 400lb. club may not mean much around here, but it is impressive to me. I am still a newbie, so I am pretty weak still. Out of the many, many people I see lift at my college rec everyday, I can definitely say I have never seen anyone put up 4 wheels.

I know when I try to lift heavy (for me) I don’t get good involvement either. I lighten the weight and concentrate on the specific muscle. That helps me, but everyone else here can help a lot more.

Congrats on hitting the 400 club. While I have never done over 300 myself, I have felt some of the same things you mentioned. I’m almost 6’5" and have over a 80" reach myself. It sure seems like the guys that bench really heavy don’t have really long arms, although, you seem to be doing quite well, and I guess “heavy” is a relative word anyway. Maybe it’s just your mechanics. I do have several suggestions. I’ll do my best to explain the first one and maybe another t-mag reader who knows a little more can reiterate on it for clairity. A once read an article where the author suggested we “set up” our chest area before we perform the bench. He said to make sure the shoulders we flat on the bench and down away from the neck. In addition, he said to fully extend the chest out before the weight is lowered. When I bench this way now, I can really feel it in my chest. However, my poundages went down at first. Secondly, you might want to browse on Ian King’s website (www.kingsports.net) and ask him the same question. I’m sure he would give you some GREAT feedback.

Keep in mind I’m not an expert and having someone educated is the best way to correct your form. I would geuss that it is your wide grip. Read up on Westside barbell and their reasons for a closer more tri’s oriented bench. Your form could also be at fault which is why you need some one to observe you in action. I hope this helps.

Welcome to the club. Many brag about four plates but few do it clean.
As to you question, how long are you arms? I am 5’10" yet have a 36" sleeve (too many deadlifts). Also what is you upper arm length compared to your lower arm length? I have read the idea difference is to have the forearm at least three inches long than the upper arm.
My chest muscles do not really pump unless I do staged reps at lower weights. I really saw improvement inmy chest after focusing on the PEC DEC heavily for six months.
Keep On Training.

call me crazy… but i have a little theory… i want to think that the range of motion for a tall person benching is the same as a shorter person. you start at the top and ease the weight down, and press back up… same angles and range of motion at any height… but what i think that “might” hurt a taller person is that the ration of the distance of the shoulder to elbow in comparison to the forearm is longer…well shit… hopefully you get the point, i’m an engineer and i don’t want to get into the angle specifics… i’m 6’2" and can bench pretty heavy and once was in the 400 club

Congrats on joining our little exclusive club! Well, its awefully hard to tell without seeing you perform the lift. Generally, people are divided into two kinds of bench pressers- those whose bar travels in a lazy-s pattern, and those who bench in a plane completely perpendiular to the bench. The folks with the lazy-s rythem do utilize their lats more in the movement, as stabilizers. The shoulder capsule is an incredibly unstable joint, and with 405 in your hands, it is using every muscle attached to it or in its vescinity to keep it stable. Thus you will feel like your other muscles besides your chest are getting worked harder, because they are. They are smaller muscles under a tremendous load vectoring in every direction. So what’s the conclusion? Your totally normal. Don’t sweat it. But please, please be sure and work the external roators and the antagonist muscles in the same plain as the bench, for the same number of sets and with as much intensity as you work your chest. Straight bar cable rows to the sternum are wonderful. Its more than worth the effort to save yourself from 8000 orthoscopic surgery to fix your shoulder caused by an imbalance, trust me from experience!