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  • Under-developed chest!

    Being a casual lifter over the past couple of years, my chest has always been weak. Ive never been too proud of my bench, frankly it sucks. My max bench has been 70kg (154lbs) I believe, with poor form (flared elbows). I tried 60kg today with improved form (I bring in my elbows about 5 degrees before I lower the weight, spread lats, keep chest up and back tight) and I could only do 4 reps. I feel as if there's no power base at all, no 'sweet spot'. Sometimes I get a good feel of form and I can power through quite happily as if the weight was a piece of cake, but the majority of the time, it's a real struggle to bench that damn bar.

    FORM:
    -Bar in the Palm of my hands
    -Chest up as much as I can
    -Space for a hand to slide through near my lower back
    -Shoulder blades pinched
    -Shoulders twist 'into place' before unracking
    -Unrack with locked arms
    -Bring in elbows about 5 degrees so they dont flare out
    -Legs wide to support and give a firm base, and even help push weight
    -Bring bar down to middle of chest and power back up.

    I just don't get it. Ive studied form videos and listend to other people but I just can't seem to get it. It's annoying because I had great powerful energy with Bent over rows after,which also at 60kg, the difference with the row is that I know I can just keep plucking away at it and the weight will increase where as benching, it's either too hard, or too easy (unchallenging) and I feel like I hit a ceiling.

    Any tips for a flailing bencher? By the way I do Stronglifts strength program 3x a week. The Bench workout also permits Pressups at the end of the workout (3 sets to failure). I do my pressups very fast and intensely to make sure my triceps are working hard and my chest is getting hit.

    My chest looks crap, doesnt even look like I bench I reccon! Everything else is coming along fine.

    For someone that can deadlift 120kg (264lb) and front squat 100k (220lb) (hey im only 165) why can I barely manage poor weights with benching

  • #2
    Try static holds. I used to do them once a week. Last Aug 4th I could do 1 static hold at 185 lbs. Oct 18th I did 345 lbs. Oct 26th I did 8 x 185 lbs as close to full range as the power cage would allow.

    This video shows the technique.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jztNKqED58Q
    Last edited by Vick; 04-26-2010, 06:46 AM.

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    • #3
      Maybe push-ups could help you along. I've never been good at bench pressing (or push-ups for that matter), but for the last two months I started to practice push-ups at home in addition to my gym workouts. I've made it a habbit to do ten push-ups each morning after getting out of bed - and throughout the day I try to squeeze in another 2-3 sets. These should be low to mid intensity, so maybe you'll have to start with girl push-ups or angled ones - the idea is that they keep your muscles busy everyday, but not to the degree that you would need recovery/repair from the workout.

      I hope this makes sense to you ... I'm not an expert, but I've found that my bench pressing has improved.
      MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)

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      • #4
        I've always thought of trying a set or two everyday, but always thought back to the 'they need recovery!!!' argument. I'd love to hear some more opinions and if anyone does infact incorporate lots of pressups while doing a normal weights program

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        • #5
          ^ obviously if ten push-ups are a high-intensity exercise for you then you need to lower the intensity. Do the push-ups on a flight of stairs for example and work your way towards the lower steps and ultimately the floor.
          MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)

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          • #6
            -Thumbs should be underneath the bar not wrapped around the bar.This will also keep stress off of your wrist and channel it down your forearm. It might take some practice but eventually it will become second nature. (the bar weight should never be pushing your hand back towards you!)

            - Military press, lateral raises on the days you work your chest will also help a lot. Your deltoids are a huge stabalizer and muscle for the bench press. The stronger your shoulders get the easier bench will be. Do these after your bench.

            - Don't forget the wider that your arms are the more of your chest (pecs) is getting worked, the closer the more your triceps and delts. Work your way wide to narrow as the wider grip exercises your larger muscles while the inner grip your stabilizers.

            - in addition to bench press it is mandatory to do other exercises targetting your chest. Dips and flys are perfect. Decline and incline presses are also. If you do these to failure and consume plenty of protein post you will have dramatic improvement quickly.

            -If you are fiercely targetting your chest be sure to give a day rest to your upper body. On these days do plyometrics/squats. The HGH produced by these huge muscle groups will aid your upper body development as well.

            -You should consider creatine! The stuff is like cheating to be honest

            -keep this thread updated with your progress!
            ad astra per aspera

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            • #7
              Originally posted by TheFastCat View Post
              -Thumbs should be underneath the bar not wrapped around the bar.This will also keep stress off of your wrist and channel it down your forearm. It might take some practice but eventually it will become second nature. (the bar weight should never be pushing your hand back towards you!)

              -keep this thread updated with your progress!
              Uh, no. It's called a suicide grip for a reason. Telling a stranger to use it is amazingly dumb.

              http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=919104

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              • #8
                If you are going to do a set every day, then there is a different procedure. That is the application of synaptic facilitation rather than sequential stimulation.

                Heavy weights with low volume is used for muscle growth. (sequential stimulation) You need time for the muscles to adapt and grow. Hense the once a week training.

                Doing it everyday you reduce your weight to avoid burn out. This is done to improve the nerve endings in the muscles to make them more efficient. This is known as synpatic facilitation.

                Try your static hold on a Sunday. Monday and Tuesday become off days. Wed., Thursday and Friday apply lighter weight with repetitions. Saturday off.

                Keep in mind any tricep work before the bench press will reduce your success since it will already be fatigued. ( I learned that from experience.)

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                • #9
                  If you've got a workout partner, do some negatives. They are great for getting over a hump.

                  Load the bar up with more weight than you know you can press, unrack it. Then slow and controlled lower the bar down very slowly resisting the weight. Then at the bottom have your workout partner help you lift it back up and repeat. These will make you very sore, I would not do them more than once a week, maybe twice once you have adapted properly. But again because of the heavyweight do no do unless you have a partner who knows how to spot you appropriatley.

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                  • #10
                    I agree with you bruce.b. Do not mess around with the chest bench press. You must take it seriously, because you can be seriously injured or even killed. Trust me, I know. I worked out in my home gym for years, and I did the bench press without a spotter. On my last rep, I was too fatigued to get the bar back on the rungs. I was stuck. So, I tried to focus my strength on one side to get it up, and then get the other one. My arm collapsed, and my fingers on my left hand were gouged by the rungs, which caused me to drop the bar. The bar landed right on my head, bounced off, and landed on the back of the bench. Fortunately, I have a thick skull, and I suffered only a bump and scrape on the head. However, I had three fingers that required stitching since the meat was ripped open to the bone.

                    My advice, is to use good form, complete grip and ALWAYS have a spotter when getting under the bar. I have always had one since (my wife), and I haven't had another incident.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by bruce.b View Post
                      Uh, no. It's called a suicide grip for a reason. Telling a stranger to use it is amazingly dumb.
                      Why is giving advice to improve his bench performance amazingly dumb?
                      For a beginner lifter - thumb under the bar reinforces proper form.
                      Alarmist, subjectivist fallacy for the loss :/
                      ad astra per aspera

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                      • #12
                        I agree with John. I always did my bench press in a power cage for safety reasons.

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                        • #13
                          I would suggest push-ups too. One thing that I like to do is to do a set of regular push-ups until I fell like my chest is getting tired then I do the last few extra low. I'll get low enough that my whole body is just barely off the floor and I turn my head to one side so it's out of the way. Those do a good job of wearing me the rest of the way out.
                          http://www.facebook.com/daemonized

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                          • #14
                            To help improve your bench is an easy fix. Yes you can try different grips or do negatives and a million other things. These methods will help you increase strength and muscle gains but the concept of running before you crawl is ludicrous to me. The best way would be to start out with variation push ups. They don't take a lot of time and you will build a lot faster without the soreness and pain since this isn't a strong suit.

                            There are literally hundreds of variations you can use and mix and match as you see fit.
                            My favorite only consists of 55 push-ups. You start with ten push-ups all the way down to 1. so 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1. Simple concept.
                            Start out with 10 regular push-ups (shoulder width apart). Once completed. Get on your knees and do ten Military presses with no weight.
                            9 wide arm push ups followed by 9 military press with no weight. (you should see the pattern forming)
                            8 close grip
                            7 regular with feet elevated
                            6 regular
                            5 wide with feet elevated and so on and so forth.
                            Now when you get stronger and can do more then repeat the process working back up to ten.

                            The object of this is to build through variation with only 55 push-ups. You're doing your own body weight, confusing the muscles and working out your entire chest, shoulders, upper back, tri's.

                            Occasionally when I do some lifting at the office I use the medicine ball or put my feet on the desk.

                            Another great push-up exercise that will help is to put a book or two under on hand and keep the other on the floor. Switch every other set. It focuses on hitting the same muscles in different ways. I promise you that after a few of these you'll feel it and don't feel bad if you have to finish on your knees. The most important part is to finish the sets with good form.
                            Today is a new day. You will get out of it just what you put into it. If you have made mistakes, there is always another chance for you. And supposing you have tried and failed again and again, you may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call 'Failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down.

                            Mary Pickford

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by TheFastCat View Post
                              - Military press, lateral raises on the days you work your chest will also help a lot. Your deltoids are a huge stabalizer and muscle for the bench press. The stronger your shoulders get the easier bench will be. Do these after your bench.
                              ^This. Shoulder exercises will do wonders for your bench.

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