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Bench Press grip for long-term shoulder health?

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  • #16
    Lift your hands to the bar without thinking, as though you were going to push a box off your head. Adopt that position.

    If this fails, become a Slav.
    --
    Perfection is entirely individual. Any philosophy or pursuit that encourages individuality has merit in that it frees people. Any that encourages shackles only has merit in that it shows you how wrong and desperate the human mind can get in its pursuit of truth.

    --
    I get blunter and more narcissistic by the day.
    I'd apologize, but...

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    • #17
      Seeing as how you're in a commercial gym, and knowing my personal experience with "spotters" in such places, I recommend being very clear about what you want the random person standing behind you to do. My exact instructions to random spotters are:

      1. Using an alternating grip (I show them exactly what I mean, and where on the bar), help me un-rack the bar.
      2. Once I set up for my set, I will tell you to count to 3, and then you will un-rack the bar as I have demonstrated.
      3. After you help me with that, BACK AWAY. Do not do anything. Do not stand above me. DO NOT TOUCH THE BAR. Do not tell me "you got it, bro!". Just step back and watch.
      4. IF, I repeat, IF, I am stuck, i.e. the bar is clearly not moving, promptly step in, and using an alternating grip just like when un-racking, rack the bar with me. DO NOT NUDGE THE BAR LIGHTLY WHILE TELLING ME I GOT IT. Just rack it.

      I have used these instructions many times, and not once has someone failed to help me properly. Before this, I would frequently get "bro'd" and my sets would be ruined.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by quikky View Post
        Seeing as how you're in a commercial gym, and knowing my personal experience with "spotters" in such places, I recommend being very clear about what you want the random person standing behind you to do. My exact instructions to random spotters are:

        1. Using an alternating grip (I show them exactly what I mean, and where on the bar), help me un-rack the bar.
        2. Once I set up for my set, I will tell you to count to 3, and then you will un-rack the bar as I have demonstrated.
        3. After you help me with that, BACK AWAY. Do not do anything. Do not stand above me. DO NOT TOUCH THE BAR. Do not tell me "you got it, bro!". Just step back and watch.
        4. IF, I repeat, IF, I am stuck, i.e. the bar is clearly not moving, promptly step in, and using an alternating grip just like when un-racking, rack the bar with me. DO NOT NUDGE THE BAR LIGHTLY WHILE TELLING ME I GOT IT. Just rack it.

        I have used these instructions many times, and not once has someone failed to help me properly. Before this, I would frequently get "bro'd" and my sets would be ruined.
        That is great advice. I usually avoid spotters for that very reason unless I am trying a new PR, and it undoubtabley has hindered my progress because I usually try to leave a rep in the tank. I switched from SS to a BBB 5/3/1 (minus the 3 and deload week, so 5/1) for recovery purposes while I try to slowly cut back from being 240lbs, so I really only have a PR AMRAP set once every two weeks. The progress has been slower, but my squat has really benefited the most from the extra volume and rest.

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        • #19
          I agree with the spotting advice. Since I typically work out on my own, I usually end up grabbing some random person in the gym to spot my heavy bench sets. I'm always like "listen, you're only here to keep me from dying. If I am clearly going to die, just pull the bar off me. If it's just moving slowly or whatever, DON'T TOUCH IT. At all."

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          • #20
            High Rep Body Weight Exercises are the key

            Originally posted by Dickson View Post
            ... I am not sure if it due to poor programming on my part or something else, but low rep bodyweight exercises have just been less effective then barbell training for getting stronger.
            Totally agree that low rep body weight exercises won't cut it.

            So try High Rep body weight exercises. For pushups: 3 Sets of MAX Effort Reps. This can be 25, 50, 75, +++

            And pushups not only strengthen your chest but your entire shoulder carriage. It is in fact the single best exercise to strengthen your shoulder carriage.
            SW (207lbs) 8/1/2012
            CW (188lbs)
            Primal Since 8/1/2102

            Bike commute to work 20 miles/day ~ rain, shine, or snow.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by amerikian View Post
              Totally agree that low rep body weight exercises won't cut it.

              So try High Rep body weight exercises. For pushups: 3 Sets of MAX Effort Reps. This can be 25, 50, 75, +++

              And pushups not only strengthen your chest but your entire shoulder carriage. It is in fact the single best exercise to strengthen your shoulder carriage.
              The dilemma here would be that I can't do high rep pushups. Same with chinups, I feel I'd get a great benefit out of doing 3 sets of 25 of either. I sometimes will do high rep inclined pushups after my normal routine, and recently did 5x10 pushups on the bench with pretty good success. However, I just don't feel it creates the growth signal that a max effort bench press does. Maybe it is just my inability to properly generate force with bodyweight, but for whatever reason I find the barbell forces me to use my muscles correctly.

              I am finding that the overhead press is my preferred movement for strengthening my shoulder carriage. After years of overhead pulling with swimming, the overhead pushing has been a great counter balance and is really strengthening my shoulders.

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              • #22
                Higher and higher reps don't make you stronger, they give you better endurance. If you want more strength, lift more weight.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Dickson View Post
                  I am finding that the overhead press is my preferred movement for strengthening my shoulder carriage. After years of overhead pulling with swimming, the overhead pushing has been a great counter balance and is really strengthening my shoulders.
                  I totally agree with your assessment of the press. If only it could be loaded as heavy as the bench press...

                  I don't think you should give up on bench press yet, as you've gotten a lot of great advice on form corrections. If you do ever decide to abandon it, continue to focus on the overhead press and swap out the push-ups for dips and eventually weighted dips if you feel better doing that motion.
                  The Champagne of Beards

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by quikky View Post
                    Higher and higher reps don't make you stronger, they give you better endurance. If you want more strength, lift more weight.
                    And who can do more pushups anyway, a guy who benches 135 or a guy who benches 350?
                    The Champagne of Beards

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                    • #25
                      This guy explains the downside to bench Pressing much clearer than I could:

                      Bench Press: Not the Best Exercise | Doug Brignole - Exercise and Biomechanics

                      Basically speaking it's only working the chest through half of it's full range of motion. You wouldn't curl a weight halfway or stop your squat half way up so why would anyone consider this chest exercise to be so great !

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by RichMahogany View Post
                        And who can do more pushups anyway, a guy who benches 135 or a guy who benches 350?
                        Oh boy I don't want to restart this classic MDA fitness argument, but weight certainly plays a factor. 135 may be too light for this comparison, but I'd have to imagine a 135lb cross country runner is going to be be able to do more pushups than a 350lb powerlifter with a 350lb bench press. Similarly, I am pretty sure I could do more for my pushup count by removing 40lbs from my body than I could by adding +100lbs to my bench press. Luckily, my current goal is just to get stronger at a healthy pace, with long term goals in mind.

                        For example, I someday want to:

                        Squat over 425lbs
                        Deadlift over 600lbs
                        OHP over 200lbs
                        Bench over 300lbs
                        Run a 5k in under 24 minutes
                        Swim a 50 yard free in under 25 seconds and a 100 yard free under 1:00
                        Do 20+ pullups, 100+ pushups continuously

                        Are these realistic? Probably not, but I find it motivational to set a wide variety of goals to acheive that may be a decade or more away. If I am careful in strength training, I may not even peak for another 20 years, which is exciting to plan around. After being so desperate for progress as a novice as rapid as possible, my mind set has changed more to trying to just sustain any level of progress without sacrificing other life goals (work, school, love, sleep, sex, social).

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Dickson View Post
                          For example, I someday want to:

                          Squat over 425lbs
                          Deadlift over 600lbs
                          OHP over 200lbs
                          Bench over 300lbs
                          Run a 5k in under 24 minutes
                          Swim a 50 yard free in under 25 seconds and a 100 yard free under 1:00
                          Do 20+ pullups, 100+ pushups continuously

                          Are these realistic? Probably not, but I find it motivational to set a wide variety of goals to acheive that may be a decade or more away. If I am careful in strength training, I may not even peak for another 20 years, which is exciting to plan around. After being so desperate for progress as a novice as rapid as possible, my mind set has changed more to trying to just sustain any level of progress without sacrificing other life goals (work, school, love, sleep, sex, social).
                          There are a lot of people in this world with average genetics that have been able to reach those numbers. Keep working toward them. And heck, if your deadlift only makes it to 550 lb, that's still pretty good!

                          I can totally relate on long arms making stuff harder. They create longer ROM for presses and chinups, make it harder to setup on a low bar squat, and make racking power cleans very difficult. In a novice strength program, about the only movement that they help with is deadlifting.

                          Anyway, the bench press has always been my weakest lift out of the main ones, too. It's been getting better, recently. The main things that have helped are really concentrating on form, being consistent in how I setup, and doing weighted dips to improve my lockout strength. Good luck!
                          In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock.

                          This message has been intercepted by the NSA, the only branch of government that listens.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Dickson View Post
                            Oh boy I don't want to restart this classic MDA fitness argument, but weight certainly plays a factor. 135 may be too light for this comparison, but I'd have to imagine a 135lb cross country runner is going to be be able to do more pushups than a 350lb powerlifter with a 350lb bench press.
                            Relative strength, i.e. strength relative to bodyweight, is certainly dependent on bodyweight. A bench press is absolute strength, since it is force against an external resistance, irrespective of bodyweight. Furthermore, for any male of reasonable strength, push-ups are more of an endurance exercise, though, like everything else in fitness, it is connected to strength. If you are stronger, a single push-up takes less effort than if you are weaker, hence you can do more of them with added strength. That said, being lighter also means it takes less effort. That said, having better endurance will also allow you to do more push-ups.

                            If push-up numbers are important, then relative strength and endurance are key. You want to be as strong as possible (high bench press), as light as possible (low body fat), and train push-ups frequently to develop better muscular endurance.

                            Originally posted by Dickson View Post
                            Similarly, I am pretty sure I could do more for my pushup count by removing 40lbs from my body than I could by adding +100lbs to my bench press.
                            Hard to say. I would actually guess the opposite. If you are 220lb, and drop 40lb, you will be lighter and most likely weaker. So, while it will take less force to do a push-up, you will also have less absolute strength since you won't drop 40lb of pure fat. If you stay at 220lb, but gain 100lb to your bench press, from the current 155lb, you will gain a lot of absolute strength. In fact, nearly doubling your pushing strength, while remaining at the same weight, will probably have a bigger effect on your push-ups, than just dropping weight.

                            In your case, I would focus on adding 100lb to your bench press. Then get leaner. Then practice push-ups. Then win.

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Dickson View Post
                              Oh boy I don't want to restart this classic MDA fitness argument, but weight certainly plays a factor. 135 may be too light for this comparison, but I'd have to imagine a 135lb cross country runner is going to be be able to do more pushups than a 350lb powerlifter with a 350lb bench press. Similarly, I am pretty sure I could do more for my pushup count by removing 40lbs from my body than I could by adding +100lbs to my bench press. Luckily, my current goal is just to get stronger at a healthy pace, with long term goals in mind.
                              You think a 350 lb guy can compete in powerlifting with a 350 lb bench press?!
                              The Champagne of Beards

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by RichMahogany View Post
                                And who can do more pushups anyway, a guy who benches 135 or a guy who benches 350?
                                Depends on the guy. Because push ups aren't a test of absolute strength. Besides, the weight is relative. A 135lb gymnast or al kavadlo type could most certainly do more pushups than a 350lb powerlifter type that weighs 300lbs. Even with all things equal, say 2 identical twin 200lb guys, if one guy's routine consists of a 5/3/1 program and has a 400lb max bench, and the other guy does some playground/convict conditioning stuff, I'm guessing that the guy who does several hundred pushups, a few days each week can still do more pushups. Endurance and conditioning do count. Usain bolt may be the fastest man in the world, hut he certainly isn't winning the nyc marathon this fall

                                I do agree that the op needs to get stronger though. And increasing his bench would increase his pushups. But increasing his pushups in this case, would also increase his bench

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