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Bench Press: What Am I doing wrong?


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18 replies to this topic

#1 of 19 OFFLINE   Dome Vongvises

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Posted May 06 2003 - 10:21 AM

I've been doing some chest exercises lately, but the one I can't get to work properly is the bench press. It seems like I'm working my shoulders more than anything else. What am I doing wrong?

#2 of 19 OFFLINE   NickSo

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Posted May 06 2003 - 10:34 AM

Yeah, when i do bench presses i find that theres alot of pressure on my shoulders too. (especially my left shoulder is kinda wonky, i feel discomfort after doing some bench presses sometimes)

How far are your hands apart from each other? I try to do it shoulder width. Also i like to put my feet up on the bench this prevents my back from arching when I do the presses, which concentrates it more on the pecs.


#3 of 19 OFFLINE   Matt Stryker

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Posted May 06 2003 - 11:28 AM

this might help, they have little animations of how you are supposed to do the different presses.

http://www.exrx.net/...st/ChestWt.html

are you using a machine, barbell, dumbells?

#4 of 19 OFFLINE   Dome Vongvises

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Posted May 06 2003 - 11:29 AM

Thanks. I noticed my back arches an awful lot when I do bench press. I just used a towel and place it there, but I'll try that suggestion of yours.

#5 of 19 OFFLINE   Dome Vongvises

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Posted May 06 2003 - 11:30 AM

Oh, I just saw Matt Stryker's post. I've been using a barbell.

#6 of 19 OFFLINE   Armando Zamora

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Posted May 06 2003 - 11:36 AM

Quote:
How far are your hands apart from each other? I try to do it shoulder width. Also i like to put my feet up on the bench this prevents my back from arching when I do the presses, which concentrates it more on the pecs.

NickSo, try to keep your feet on the floor.

Dome, maybe your pressing the bar too high toward your head and not directly over your sternum? In any case, your shoulder muscle, specifically the deltoid, is used during the bench press, so working your shoulder to an extent with the bench press is normal.

http://www.bodybuild....inMuscle=Chest

http://www.exrx.net/....PowerLift.html

http://www.exrx.net/....enchPress.html

EDIT: oops...Matt posted before I finished with my reply. sorry.

#7 of 19 OFFLINE   Greg_R

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Posted May 06 2003 - 11:44 AM

If you're starting to lift then this makes sense. Your shoulders will stabilize your arm through it's range of motion. If you use a machine then it takes care of the stabilization. Dumbbells are even harder to control (builds the small control muscles even faster).

Another issue is the range of motion. If you bring the weight past the point where your upper arms are parallel with the floor then you could be overextending your joints (not good). Jerky weight movement is another cause of joint discomfort. Try to take at least 2 seconds to lift the weight and 4 seconds to return it. This will prevent you from giving the weight momentum (thus cheating yourself on the exercise). Putting the feet on the bench is a way to prevent back arch but you should learn to do it correctly (feet on floor). Concentrate on pushing your navel into the bench (keeps your back flat). Doing this on all exercises will help you develop a strong core (essential for all sports and general fitness)...

Summary:
1) If you're starting out use lighter weights and build into the heavier stuff (should take 3-4 sessions before you can max out and not be sore for the rest of the week).
2) Don't overdo the range of motion. Don't bring the upper arms past parallel on the floor.
3) Lift in slow and controlled movements. The slower the better.
4) Work on proper breathing and body core control.

#8 of 19 OFFLINE   Ryan Tsang

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Posted May 06 2003 - 12:09 PM

I've read that the bar should just touch the chest at its lowest point. Is that too far?

Also, to increase poundage, its better to develope the triceps than the pecs. I've also read that utilizing the triceps results in a short distance of travel, as opposed to using the "elbows out to the side" technique. Is there any truth to what I've read?

#9 of 19 OFFLINE   Kim D

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Posted May 06 2003 - 12:39 PM

If you are arching your back, you could be lifting too much weight.

Personally, I'm not a fan of the flat bench press. I prefer incline and decline using dumbbells but that's me. Flat bench always bothered my shoulders.

- kim

#10 of 19 OFFLINE   Darren Davis

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Posted May 06 2003 - 03:10 PM

Strained shoulders sounds to me a lot like improper placement of the bar. I bring the bar right down across my nipples and press straight up. If I accidentally bring it high on my chest it can really strain the deltoids. This is also very dangerous because if the weight is too heavy and you drop it the bar is right over your neck.

About arching your back, is there anything specifically wrong with that? I'm on my school's weightlifting team and I arch my back when I'm maxing out or doing higher weight. But it doesn't hurt. In fact, my back feels much stronger and I actually stand up straighter.

Quote:
Also, to increase poundage, its better to develope the triceps than the pecs. I've also read that utilizing the triceps results in a short distance of travel, as opposed to using the "elbows out to the side" technique. Is there any truth to what I've read?

Do whatever way you've been doing. To change now would take a lot of discipline and probably wouldn't get you any farther. I know people who lift a lot of weight with the tricep method and others who lift a lot with the "elbows out" method. Personally, I lift with my elbows out because that way I utilize both the chest and triceps.

#11 of 19 OFFLINE   Reid_d

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Posted May 06 2003 - 11:36 PM

Yet another possibility is your grip is too wide. The wider your grip is, the more your shoulders (anterior deltoid) is involved. The narrower your grip is, the more triceps are stressed. Also how often are you benching and how often do you go heavy. You may not be giving yourself enough recovery time. Your delts and triceps are secondary movers in bench press( the chest primary) but will fatigue long before your pecs. You need to allow recovery time.
Remember weightlifting is anaerobic(tearing down) exercise. Less is better. You grow when you rest.
What kind of program are you doing? sets, reps, workout days?

#12 of 19 OFFLINE   Scott Van Dyke

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Posted May 07 2003 - 01:29 AM

I, too am looking for some advise as I started a routine 5-6 wks. ago.

I do 4 sets everyday on a benchpress with free weights. I started lifting a 60 lb. piece of angle iron 20 reps, 4 sets in about an hour or so. I'm using new free-weights now, and lift 115 - 15 times, 15 times, 14 times, and 10 times -Everyday. I build up my reps till I'm over 20 for all sets and then I simply increase the weight. I'm currently maxing around 180 lbs.

A few questions:

1. If I don't bench everyday, I feel I won't get big quick enough. I've heard that after you start a program, it takes about 8 weeks to see any type of results. I've seen some minor results, and I'm strict. I don't get lazy and miss a day. Since I've seen constant improvement, is it so bad that I don't give myself any rest days?

2. I usually increas the amount of weight on my last one to two sets. I seem to remember that this is best, but my fiance disagrees. What is best?

3. I've also started doing sit-ups. Sick of my gut. (I'm only 29) When is it time to get some high carb powder to aid in bulking up?

Thanks in advance...Posted Image

#13 of 19 OFFLINE   John Stone

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Posted May 07 2003 - 02:20 AM

Scott,

1) You must give your muscles time to recover. Muscles don't grow in the gym they grow between workouts. You are preventing them from growing as much as they could be. Working them every day is counter-productive. You should work each muscle group no more than twice a week (personally I work each muscle group, except for my abs which tend to have a faster recovery time, once a week).

2) Increasing the weight for the last couple of sets works very well for a lot of people. I like Pyramid sets (increasing the weight with each successive set).

3) You can't spot-reduce fat. All the sit-ups in the world (which you should not be doing anyway, try crunches instead), will not make your belly shrink. The only way to make your abs show is to reduce your body fat through cardio exercise and a sound, clean diet.

You can check out my transformation page for more information on what has worked for me. I've gone from 215 pounds/30% body fat to 165 pounds/11% body fat in 4 months. I did it by eating clean foods 5-6 times a day, daily cardio workouts and intense weight training:

http://www.twowiresthin.com/wl2003/

Good luck!

#14 of 19 OFFLINE   RichardDP

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Posted May 07 2003 - 03:12 AM

John,

Your work ethic is admirable, the advances you've made are astonishing. To think that you can go from your before to your after in 5 months should serve as an inspiration to anyone who thinks it can't be done.

Great job.

#15 of 19 OFFLINE   KyleS

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Posted May 07 2003 - 03:32 AM

1. If I don't bench everyday, I feel I won't get big quick enough. I've heard that after you start a program, it takes about 8 weeks to see any type of results. I've seen some minor results, and I'm strict. I don't get lazy and miss a day. Since I've seen constant improvement, is it so bad that I don't give myself any rest days?

Like John said your muscles dont grow in the Gym you are actually tearing them down. 3-4 days per week is the maximum that you should normally work each area with at least a day of rest in between. Work your upper body one day and your lower body the next if you want to workout every single day.

Honestly my largest gains were when I was working extremely hard with little improvement. I would actually take off at least 2 weeks and not touch a single weight. When I got back in I would be quite a bit stronger since sometimes your muscles just need the rest.

2. I usually increas the amount of weight on my last one to two sets. I seem to remember that this is best, but my fiance disagrees. What is best?

There is nothing wrong with this but dont use this as your only routine. "Shocking" your muscles and introducing new routines can give you more gains in the long run because it keeps your muscles from adapting to a regular workout. If your muscles get trained to do a certain exercise you will see the amount of your gains go way down. I, like John, loved pyramids so you may give those a try.

3. I've also started doing sit-ups. Sick of my gut. (I'm only 29) When is it time to get some high carb powder to aid in bulking up?

First I would say that you should be doing crunches and not situp so that you do not strain your lower back and you will actually be focusing your workout on your abs and not on multiple muscle groups. Contrary to what a lot of people think you cannot lose fat in just one area it will need to be lost all over your body. You will actually need to increase the amount of Cardio workouts that you are doing while eating properly. If you eat properly you dont need to spend the money on expensive nutritional supplements because you will get all the nutrition you need from the food and not a pill.

Best of luck on the workouts.

KyleS

#16 of 19 OFFLINE   Dome Vongvises

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Posted May 07 2003 - 04:51 AM

Here's my simple workout program.

Cardio Vascular
- Run up and down a steep hill for 10 to 15 minutes

Chest
- Bench
3 sets
10-12 reps

- Bicep Curl
3 sets
12-15 reps

Obliques
- 3 sets
20-25

I haven't started abs yet because I still need to lose the gut from all the eating I did in high school and college. Posted Image

My butt? Well, still trying to figure out what to do with that bastard.

Even before I bench, my back arches, so is that normal?

#17 of 19 OFFLINE   Hunter P

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Posted May 07 2003 - 04:57 AM

Four sets of 20 seem inefficient. Traditional advice is 2-3 sets of increasing weight. The point is to work the muscles to the point of failure. You should barely be able to complete the last rep on the last set. But even 2-3 sets might be unneccessary.

I saw a news report on TV that some people did a study on weight training. The control group did the standard three sets with 2-3 days of rest. The test group did only one set to the point of failure. The strength gain and muscle gain was about the same for both groups. So the theory is that it doesn't matter how many sets or reps you do when you are trying to build muscle. The point is to push the muscle to its limit.

I have tried the one set method and I am happy with the results. My workouts go a lot faster too.

I would also like to endorse resting between workouts. But you should still do cardio several times a week, maybe on your off days. The proper balance of diet, rest, lifting, and cardio will get you the best results.
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#18 of 19 OFFLINE   Holadem

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Posted May 07 2003 - 05:18 AM

Quote:
You must give your muscles time to recover. Muscles don't grow in the gym they grow between workouts. You are preventing them from growing as much as they could be. Working them every day is counter-productive. You should work each muscle group no more than twice a week (personally I work each muscle group, except for my abs which tend to have a faster recovery time, once a week).

Quote:
You can't spot-reduce fat. All the sit-ups in the world (which you should not be doing anyway, try crunches instead), will not make your belly shrink. The only way to make your abs show is to reduce your body fat through cardio exercise and a sound, clean diet.

IMO, these are the two single biggest principles of workout. They can never be stressed enough.

There is a fitness thread floating around.

--
Holadem

#19 of 19 OFFLINE   Dome Vongvises

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Posted May 11 2003 - 04:14 AM

Quote:
There is a fitness thread floating around.


Who started it? I need to find it. Posted Image


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