Bench Press: Where should the bar touch?

Discussion in 'General Training' started by TangoDown, Feb 26, 2013.

  1. TangoDown

    TangoDown Member

    What is the consensus as to the most efficient bottom position for the bench press? I see most power lifters put the bar on the upper abs, but they're wearing bench suits. I feel like I lose power when I place the bar significantly away from my lower pectorals. Should the bar be right under the nipple, under the pecs in general, or at the upper abs?

    Or is it relative to the levers of the specific lifter?
  2. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    About nipple region.

    Lyle McDonald has put some great stuff on his site regarding benching technique/form. If you have a half hour, go find it, I remember it being really useful when I was benching.
  3. TangoDown

    TangoDown Member

    Read a couple of his articles. Good insight. May read some more of his stuff. Thanks for the info.
  4. Lol

    Lol Super Moderator Staff Member

    For me, the bar touches just at the base of my pecs.

    It's taken a lot of experimentation to find a form for my benching that messes up my shoulders the least amount: I aim to get as big an arch as I can manage and I push hard with my feet and legs to keep as stable as possible; my scaps are adducted to give me a good base against the bench to take the load and so that my shoulders are low; I keep my entire back really tight; I grip the bar as hard as possible too. Benching always feels like a full-body workout! :)
  5. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    I also touch just about the base of the pecs as well.
  6. manimal

    manimal New Member

    The position of the bar is going to be determined by they type of bench press you are doing. If you want to incorporate more front delt, the "guillotine" style press where you flair out your elbows and the bar comes down to your neck. Though this is horrible for your shoulders, proper bench technique for max pec is to keep your elbows closer to your body almost at a 45degree angle from your ribs out making the bar come down to around your nipple area. This puts the max emphasis on the pecs and will save your shoulders in the long run.
  7. Agree with nipple.
  8. Sci

    Sci Well-Known Member

    Actually you have that backwards. Elbows flared out to the sides in a guillotine press emphasizes the pectorals, while the closer you keep your elbows tucked in towards your sides, the more it emphasizes front deltoids. The pectorals are the primary mover in transverse shoulder flexion, while the front deltoids are the prime mover in normal shoulder flexion. Kinesiology is a pet hobby of mine.
  9. manimal

    manimal New Member

    I think you may be correct. I might have been confused with this though I notice that my shoulder have less pain when I don't flair my elbows. I might have been thinking about rotator cuffs and rotator cuff injuries, guillotine press is horrible in that regard.
  10. Sci

    Sci Well-Known Member

    True, not a safe exercise for the rotator cuff.
  11. Ozzidazza

    Ozzidazza New Member

    Benching form with Shoulder injury

    Hi Guys, I am really struggling with bench due to shoulder issues. I have a near full-length tear in the supraspinatus tendon (right shoulder), a smaller tear in the same tendon on left shoulder but with very bad bursitis which makes it nearly as painful as the right shoulder. I'm basically buggered, and am booked for the first shoulder surgery first week in Jan, then when recovered from that am intending to get the left one done too. So I'm also looking for tips on recovering from this kind of surgery from those who have also gone through this. But this will be the subject of another post!

    For this post, I'm after some bench-specific advice. I haven't trained shoulders for about 5 months now and the only work they have been getting is from bench. Which brings me to my benching concerns!

    I'm not flat benching any more, instead I am trying to incline bench which I find is less painful. I've narrowed my grip by a good 6 inches, dropped the weight right off (started from an empty bar again), concentrating on pinching shoulder blades together and am trying real hard not to flare my elbows. Using this techique I can get very close to touching my upper chest with light weight, however when I progress back up in weight about the best I can do is get my arms to a 90 degree bend. This leaves the weight about 6 inches from my upper chest. I don't feel a real stretch in my pecs at all, but this is about the best I can do!

    I'm resigned to the fact that I can't progress in strength in my current situation, but I am trying to hold on to what I have for as long as possible hence why I'm trying to persevere with 'some' type of bench, even if it is far from optimum. However going forward I also think my form will be forever compromised.

    My question really is with the depth of my bench. Is an arm-bend of 90 degrees (bar 6 inches of the chest) with heavy weight worth it? Or would I be better going to a light enough weight that I can get deeper on. Bearing in mind this light a weight would be about 50% of my normal bench weight and probably won't progress, as the limitation is shoulder pain and not strength. :(

    Any advise, suggestions, or insights that anyone would care to share would be highly appreciated!

  12. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    I guess the question on my mind is why bench press at all? Seems kind of silly given your issues. You couldn't pay me to do any pressing exercises if I had your shoulder issues.
  13. Ozzidazza

    Ozzidazza New Member

    Hi Totentanz, good question. I suppose the answers are:

    - I always try to work through and around injury. My shoulder issues have had a big impact on my training as they effect all pressing movements, and somewhat bizzarely bicep curls. So I am continuing to train those areas, just making adaptations where I can. My adaptation for bench is Incline, half reps. The question is should I waste my time with this?

    - I structure my routine around compounds for quick effective workouts. Being forced to drop two major compounds (Bench and the other one being military press) from my routine has me tearing my hair out. Also without any pressing movements in my routine I would also need to consider doing much more specific triceps work, which I'm currently very light on.

    What are my alternatives?

  14. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    I think it's better for long term health to leave the injuries alone. You can try to maintain your pecs, shoulders and triceps now and risk losing the ability to ever lift for those musclegroups ever again. Or you can focus on other stuff right now and when your shoulders are healthy again, bring those areas back up if they've lagged behind.

    Alternatively, check out mikeynov's log. He had shoulder issues for much of this year and worked around it.
  15. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    I largely agree with every Totez has said, but noting that, you may find a BB floor press suits your circumstances quite well.
  16. Ozzidazza

    Ozzidazza New Member

    Appreciate the wisdom Totentanz, I grudgingly admit that you're right! I'll be out for probably the first half of 2014 anyway in recovery. I'll re-do my goals along the lines of diet and (oh no) cardio, and push for 10% body fat for once. I assume muscle memory will come to my rescue when I can finally lift again. One step back, two steps forward. Thanks for your response.

  17. Ozzidazza

    Ozzidazza New Member

    BB floor press? Never heard of it before, but will look into it. May be a way to progress back into bench once the surgery is behind me. Cheers!
  18. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    Unless you are on a starvation diet or are significantly over your genetic limits, you won't lose a whole lot of muscle in the area anyway. It is a lot easier to maintain what you have than people usually assume.
  19. Sci

    Sci Well-Known Member

    Obviously, there are a wide variety of shoulder structures and shoulder problems, but I'd thought I'd share anyway....
    In my case DECLINE benching doesn't hurt at all, but flat benching causes impingement to my right shoulder, incline benching is ok at half-ROM, but I can't go all the way to chest.

    Decline benching... No problem. Did 250 pounds for a solid 5 reps tonight, zero pain. Other exercises for chest and shoulders I've done that didn't cause ME impingement ( might not be the case for you) are machine Flyes, dumbell laterals, cable crosses, dips, Dumbell and barbell overhead presses are fine, but I only bring the bar to about chin level, any lower and my right shoulder has problems.

    Now, the exercises that helped rehabilitate and balance out my shoulders:
    1) ROWS, full range of motion, with an emphasis on squeezing the shoulder blades back and together.
    2) External rotations, especially lying on my side with elbow close to ribs.
    3) rear Delt work, such as reverse flys or face pulls, wide rows, bent laterals

    All these exercises strengthen the upper back and posterior shoulder muscles to help keep your scapular posture and glenohumeral joint in proper condition.
  20. Ozzidazza

    Ozzidazza New Member

    Awesome Sci, much appreciated. I haven't considered decline benching... or chest dips for that matter. Would one be preferred over the other? Thanks for the heads up on rehabilitation. I'll get there at some point.


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