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Old 04-08-2013, 06:37 PM   #1
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Default Weird bench press problem. Any help appreciated.

Lately I've been having a problem with my benching and I'm hoping someone may be able to figure out what my problem is and how to fix it. My bench feels stronger than ever at lower weights, maybe 5 rep max kind of weights but at higher percentages the bar has a habit of rolling toward my head on the way up making it very hard to finish the lift.( essentially turning it into a hybrid tricep extension) The weight feels light and moves very fast off the chest, yet I can fail lifts that should be easy due to this issue. Anyone have a clue what could be causing this? Just in case it helps: I bench with a pause on all sets, a medium width grip ( thumbs length inside the knurling) very small arch and a lot of leg drive out of the bottom
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Old 04-08-2013, 07:18 PM   #2
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From you discription, I'd say you need to widen your grip some and flare you elbows as you press. Don't keep your elbows "in" all the way up.
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Old 04-08-2013, 07:27 PM   #3
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Sounds like your setup is causing the problems, or at least someone with your setup would tend to be weak at the top.

People who use a closer grip and less arch tend to be strong at the bottom because there is more stretch in the chest at the bottom, and a more stretched muscle can often produce more explosive force. But having less arch and a mid grip is going to create a very long stroke. By the time your halfway through your bench stroke I'd be locked out since my bench stroke is essentially only a few inches long.

I'm a big fan of using your setup to get as close as possible to the results you want before you actually start to mess with how you perform the lift. It's easier to change what you do before you start the lift than what you do when the weight is in your hands. I think you should experiment some. Try arching more. What will probably feel like an extreme arch to you is nothing compared to some benchers. Focus on all the standard keys;

1. Shoulder blades tucked back like your trying to squeeze someone's finger touching the middle of your back.

2. Make it so the only parts of your body that touch the bench are your traps and your lower glutes.

3. As you lower the bar, try to shove your heals into the ground hard. Feel like your moving your body TOWARDS the bar instead of allowing the bar to move towards your body. Pushing specifically through your heals tends to keep you from lifting off the bench like most people do when they try to get a lower body push. It also squeezes the glutes which pushes your body up.

4. Keep your armpits tight. I like to think about how it would feel to try to hold a paint can under my arm just by squeezing it between my arm and my side.

I'm a big believer that your bench press setup should be extremely uncomfortable. I get terrible cramps if I don't thoroughly stretch my lower body before doing bench, far more than I do before squatting. I'm so uncomfortable in my bench setup that I can't do more than 3 reps of any weight, but it works extremely well for me. I added 40lb to my paused bench in 1 week by focussing on form alone.
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:25 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryano View Post
From you discription, I'd say you need to widen your grip some and flare you elbows as you press. Don't keep your elbows "in" all the way up.
Thanks very much for the advice see man. I will experiment with this and see if it helps my problem.
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:27 PM   #5
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"I'm a big believer that your bench press setup should be extremely uncomfortable. I get terrible cramps if I don't thoroughly stretch my lower body before doing bench, far more than I do before squatting. I'm so uncomfortable in my bench setup that I can't do more than 3 reps of any weight, but it works extremely well for me. I added 40lb to my paused bench in 1 week by focussing on form alone. "

This is "right on" IMO. If you're comfortable on the bench, it isn't a good setup.
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soldier View Post
Sounds like your setup is causing the problems, or at least someone with your setup would tend to be weak at the top.

People who use a closer grip and less arch tend to be strong at the bottom because there is more stretch in the chest at the bottom, and a more stretched muscle can often produce more explosive force. But having less arch and a mid grip is going to create a very long stroke. By the time your halfway through your bench stroke I'd be locked out since my bench stroke is essentially only a few inches long.

I'm a big fan of using your setup to get as close as possible to the results you want before you actually start to mess with how you perform the lift. It's easier to change what you do before you start the lift than what you do when the weight is in your hands. I think you should experiment some. Try arching more. What will probably feel like an extreme arch to you is nothing compared to some benchers. Focus on all the standard keys;

1. Shoulder blades tucked back like your trying to squeeze someone's finger touching the middle of your back.

2. Make it so the only parts of your body that touch the bench are your traps and your lower glutes.

3. As you lower the bar, try to shove your heals into the ground hard. Feel like your moving your body TOWARDS the bar instead of allowing the bar to move towards your body. Pushing specifically through your heals tends to keep you from lifting off the bench like most people do when they try to get a lower body push. It also squeezes the glutes which pushes your body up.

4. Keep your armpits tight. I like to think about how it would feel to try to hold a paint can under my arm just by squeezing it between my arm and my side.

I'm a big believer that your bench press setup should be extremely uncomfortable. I get terrible cramps if I don't thoroughly stretch my lower body before doing bench, far more than I do before squatting. I'm so uncomfortable in my bench setup that I can't do more than 3 reps of any weight, but it works extremely well for me. I added 40lb to my paused bench in 1 week by focusing on form alone.
Thanks very much for that excellent description man! Greatly appreciate the help. I do set up very similarly to what you outlined apart from the closer grip and the level of arch. Simply because I'm usually triceps dominant ( my close grip bench is only slightly lower than my comp grip) and I've always had issues getting into that position. I will definitely work on my flexibility and give it a shot. I do find that like you said my bench is very fast out of the bottom. The bar comes off my chest like a rocket then I lose it backwards which is annoying as it's not a muscular failure issue and I know my bench should be alot higher than it is.
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:48 PM   #7
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Ryano, another quick question when you have a chance. At what point do you think I should let my elbows flare back out a bit? I do tend to keep them tucked as if bending the bar all the time. I realise this likely depends on where the i'm losing the bar, but I'm curious as to what mental cues you use during the lift.
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:49 PM   #8
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tight back, tight arch, tight glutes, tight legs and feet driving into the floor....

other than that... bend the bar while pressing...that is tight hand grip and try to fold the bar as you press...it will automatically go toward fixing elbows. shoulder blades and focus.
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:56 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by jdmalm123 View Post
tight back, tight arch, tight glutes, tight legs and feet driving into the floor....

other than that... bend the bar while pressing...that is tight hand grip and try to fold the bar as you press...it will automatically go toward fixing elbows. shoulder blades and focus.
Thanks for the input man.
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Old 04-09-2013, 03:44 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by TomGJD View Post
Ryano, another quick question when you have a chance. At what point do you think I should let my elbows flare back out a bit? I do tend to keep them tucked as if bending the bar all the time. I realise this likely depends on where the i'm losing the bar, but I'm curious as to what mental cues you use during the lift.
"Bend the bar on the way down, pull it apart on the way up" could work as cue for your problem.
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