T Nation

Wide Elbows While Benching

I am and have always been a pec bencher, as opposed to a tricep and shoulder bencher (I have very long arms for my height). I tend to flare my elbows, particularly when I am fatigued. After searching this site and looking at some of Dave Tate’s stuff its seems that you must be a tricep bencher if you want to push the really big weights. I have also heard that benching my way can cause shoulder damage (which seems reasonable because flat bench is quite painful lately, not incline or overhead though strangely). Any tips on keeping elbows tucked in? I try it but I always end up with my forearms at a nonproductive angle, unless I can turn my palms towards each other as with dumbells.

Use less weight.

I bet that was a big help huh?

Your probably going to have ot go back to the drawing board for this one. First place I have seen a lot of benchers make mistakes is lowering the bar to high up on the chest. At the bottom make sure the bar is in line with nipples or perhaps a little lower. You are really going to have to work on tricep strength or whenever the weight go up you will drift back to old form. Add close grip bench and California presses(see latest issue of printed T mag. work on form stay patient. It will take a few weeks for those motor units to learn the new recruitment patterns but once they do you should see some good gains.

Thanks for the input AvoidsRoids, I’m sure that helped him out a lot! SHHAAAADDDUUPP!!!

Anyways NS, if you’re getting shoulder pain when benching, there’s a few things you’ve got to look at:

  1. Do you have an imbalance between the vertical push/pull (chest stronger than back?) which may contribute to shoulder instability?
  2. Are you recovering enough between workouts?
  3. Using too much weight? If your form goes to the shitter towards the end of your set you’re either doing too many reps or too much weight. Look at your goals to adjust proper rep range and then adjust your weight so you can get in your reps with proper form. Not as much weight but you’ll be pushing more in the long run!
  4. Try Dumbbells - I had a similar injury that unfortunately didn’t just come along gradually but rather suddenly was extremely painful. Since starting rehab, I’ve stuck to d-bells for chest exercises. They allow you to acheive a more neutral shoulder angle and will help to even out your chest and reduce the dominance of one side over the other.
  5. Start doing Back the same day but work it before chest. Typically most guys I see in the gym do chest first in the workout and at the first of each week. What happens here is you’re at your strongest when doing chest and then a little weaker for each subsequent part, eventually leading to the afore-mentioned imbalance and potential injury.

Lastly, get checked out by an A.R.T. practitioner. Could be your subscapularis isn’t firing, leading to shoulder instability which will only get worse if it’s not corrected.
Good Luck.

look at ur comment #3 Big Willie. Sound familiar? Ahem.

Do the style you’re doing now (elbows out) if your goal is increased chess mass. Do elbows tucked in if your goal is a big bench (and less chest growth… unless you do both?). You probably only want to do the tri style if you’re a powerlifter or (hopefully not) want bragging rights in the gym.

Tucking your elbows in will come naturally if you lower the bar so that it makes contact with your body lower down (very bottom of chest). Another tip for benching this style is using your back to bring the weight down (resistance of the triceps against the back) to preserve tricep pressing power for the positive.

I used to have a lot of shoulder pain in one of my shoulders. Once I started benching with my shoulders tucked in the pain disappeared. Not to mention my triceps are blowing up and strength has jumped way up.

Dunno exactly what you’re getting at Avoids Roids, perhaps that some of us actually use our brains and try to help people other than use this board for a personal crusade without a cause. Man, get a life

And further more Avoids Roids, it’s pretty easy to tell a guy what the problem is. To help them understand the problem is what will stop it from happeneing again… dumb-ass

My wife has the same problem. She trains with me in the morning and is strong enough to win her class in most powerlifting meets in the bench. Monday she got 6 reps with 115 at the end of the workout. She is much stronger when she uses proper form-elbows tucked in, good arch, touch low on the chest-but she flares her shoulders when tired just as you do. She also has long arms. We are having good luck by doing lots of decline JM presses to train triceps and build in that groove to the nervous system. Remember, “Practce doesn’t make perfect; Practice makes permanent.” If you flare your shoulders at rep 6, stop at 5. Practice doing it right. Contrary to popular belief, failure is not productive, only recovery is productive.

Hey small Willie, what he was saying was to check your third suggestion to the guy. You said the same thing you criticized him for “lighten the weights.” Don’t have such a roid rage.

Thanks for the advice. I can see I’m just going to have to swallow my ego and use less weight for a while, until I get in the habit of doing it right. I am more interested in functional strength than chest development although I’d be lying if I said looking good wasn’t at least a fairly high priority. I have always wanted to bench 405 though. Just to see it go up. I really don’t have a good reason, it won’t make me better at my job. Its just a goal I have had, to see if I could do it.