About where to lower the bar on benchpress

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idunno11
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About where to lower the bar on benchpress

Post by idunno11 » Thu Apr 02, 2009 1:27 pm

While doing benchpress and incline benchpress the coaches in the gym told me not to lower the bar all the way to the chest, but stop lowering a few inches from the chest so there would be less chance of injury in the shoulder, (meaning shoulder infection).
What do you say?


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Stephen Johnson
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Re: About where to lower the bar on benchpress

Post by Stephen Johnson » Thu Apr 02, 2009 1:44 pm

idunno11 wrote:While doing benchpress and incline benchpress the coaches in the gym told me not to lower the bar all the way to the chest, but stop lowering a few inches from the chest so there would be less chance of injury in the shoulder, (meaning shoulder infection*).
What do you say?
*You don't have to worry about getting a shoulder infection from benching. Rotator cuff tearing is another matter.

The wider the grip you use for benching, the more stress you place on your shoulders as you lower the weight. This is paricularly true for people with longer arms - most of the top bench pressers have short arms and thick trunks. The bottom of the bench press is primarily lifted by the anterior deltoid, the middle portion is done by the pecs, and the top portion (lockout) is done by the triceps. If your goal is to train your chest, there is no need to go all the way down when benching with a wide grip. A close grip bench press puts the shoulders in a better position to lower the weight all the way down, but close grip benching is more of an anterior deltoid and triceps exercise than a chest exercise.
Last edited by Stephen Johnson on Thu Apr 02, 2009 2:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: About where to lower the bar on benchpress

Post by Kenny Croxdale » Thu Apr 02, 2009 2:03 pm

idunno11 wrote:While doing benchpress and incline benchpress the coaches in the gym told me not to lower the bar all the way to the chest, but stop lowering a few inches from the chest so there would be less chance of injury in the shoulder, (meaning shoulder infection).
What do you say?
idunno,

I can understand your not knowing. Thus, you concerns.

However, this "coach" is an idiot. With any luck, this "coach" will educate himself enough so that he can move up to the status of moron.

A moron being smarter than an idiot. However, it make take this "coach" some time to move up to moron.

How would anyone get an infection from a bench press????

Kenny Croxdale

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Post by Matt Z » Thu Apr 02, 2009 9:49 pm

If you can use a full range-of-motion comfortably, then do so. Only avoid touching your chest if it causes you pain or discomfort.

More important than how deep you go is where on your chest you lower the bar to. For flat-bench and decline bench presses I'd recomend lowering the barbell to you lower chest (the point where your pectorals and abs meet). Not only is this generally the most comfortable and natural way to bench, it also places you in the strongest possible position.

Also, arch your back slightly and shrug your shoulders back, pulling your shoulder blades together throughout, and keep your feet flat on the floor for stability. Finally, don't bounce the bar off your chest.

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Post by Matt Z » Thu Apr 02, 2009 9:52 pm

For incline bench presses I'd recomend touching somewhat higher on your chest. Exactly how high, will depend on the angle of incline.


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Post by Kram2 » Fri Apr 03, 2009 6:16 am

Matt Z,

First off thanks for helping with the positions, that is one thing I've been struggling with for a while on the bench press.

Typically on a flat bench press I try to keep the bar at the nipple line. For incline presses I tend to bring the bar just below the clavicle. Any pros or cons to those positions? Just as you suggesed for decline I lowered to the lower portion of the chest.

Another question. You said to not bounce the bar off your chest, I've heard of some using a little bounce as a way to increase power producion. Maybe if I can find the article I'll post it. Fact or ficion regardless?

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Post by idunno11 » Fri Apr 03, 2009 11:10 am

Well I do got long arms, (since im tall), and I use a pretty wide grip, and since I want to primarily train my pecs, I should lower it a few inches before touching my pecs right? (well I did so and I feel my pecs working hard, and thats good since some people dont even feel their pecs benching, so if I do feel my pecs in this range of motion I guess its alright right?

Furthermore, I should lower the bar to the lower chest where the ab's and chest meets right?

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Post by Matt Z » Fri Apr 03, 2009 11:22 am

Slight bouncing is acceptable*. The problem is it's easy for slight bouncing to turn into bad form.

* In powerlifting competition you must lower the bar to your chest and pause before pressing it back up.

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Post by Matt Z » Fri Apr 03, 2009 11:31 am

Touching the barbell at nipple level or higher on a flat-bench keeps the elbows flared out to the sides. This places the body in a mechanically weaker position and increases stress on the shoulder joint.

Some bodybuilders claim that keeping this is better for adding muscle mass to the pectorals. Curiously, the same bodybuilders often claim that barbell bench presses aren't a very good chest exercise. Meanwhile, powerlifters who bench raw almost always lower the barbell to their lower chest, and I've never seen a powerlifter with small pecs.

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Post by Matt Z » Fri Apr 03, 2009 11:39 am

For inclines, where you touch will depend on the angle of the bench. The higher the angle, the higher on your chest you'll want to touch. For example, at a 60-degree incline I would lower the bar to my collarbones, much like a military press. Meanwhile, for a 30-degree incline I would lower the barbell to a point just above my nipples.

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Post by idunno11 » Fri Apr 03, 2009 11:50 am

err, so to make my grip abit less wider? or to keep the same grip and lower the bar like half an inch from my chest?

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Post by Stephen Johnson » Fri Apr 03, 2009 12:22 pm

idunno11 wrote:Well I do got long arms, (since im tall), and I use a pretty wide grip, and since I want to primarily train my pecs, I should lower it a few inches before touching my pecs right? (well I did so and I feel my pecs working hard, and thats good since some people dont even feel their pecs benching, so if I do feel my pecs in this range of motion I guess its alright right?

Furthermore, I should lower the bar to the lower chest where the ab's and chest meets right?
You should try benching with the arms at about a 45-degree angle from the body - halfway between a wide grip (90 degrees) and a close grip (0 degrees). That angle will keep the anterior deltoids and triceps from taking over completely from the pecs while sparing the shoulder excessive stress if you lower the bar all the way down. With that grip, the bar is over the sternum rather than the nipples.

MattZ is right about wide grip barbell benching being overrated as a chest developer. The only wide grip benching that I do is with dumbbells. Dumbbell bench presses are a much better implementation of the transverse flexion articulation than are barbell bench presses.

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Post by idunno11 » Fri Apr 03, 2009 1:48 pm

Well, so should I bench with dumbbles to make my pecs bigger?, or should I keep using barbell benchpressing, and making the grip abit less wider, tell me the cons and pros of those methods.

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Post by Stephen Johnson » Fri Apr 03, 2009 2:28 pm

idunno11 wrote:Well, so should I bench with dumbbles to make my pecs bigger?, or should I keep using barbell benchpressing, and making the grip abit less wider, tell me the cons and pros of those methods.
Why not try both, then select the exercise that feels the best to you? If there is no difference, why not vary your workout by using both barbells and dumbbells?

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Post by idunno11 » Fri Apr 03, 2009 3:07 pm

I tryed benching with dumbbles, but I prefer barbell.
I might change some exercise into dumbbel benchpress sometime.
You said to bench with about 45 degree grip (meaning not too wide, not to narrow, do you have a photo or an example to that sort of grip?


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