Add in some reverse grips?
T NATION | Master the Reverse-Grip Bench Press
I am struggling with my bench press above others lifts, and thought I'd ask this here rather than the StartingStrength.com forums since the group is more diverse and long-term health seems to be more of a priority here over 12-week number gains.
I've been stuck at a bench press of #150lbs for 3 sets of 5 for a while now, which is pathetically low compared to my other lifts (my overhead press isn't the greatest either at 120lbs, but it is relatively higher). The biggest struggle I have is that I have freakishly long arms. Like 82" arm span orangutan freakish. When benching, to get my arms in the preferred SS angle I have to take a grip just outside of the rings, maybe even further, and it is KILLING my shoulders. I even pin them back and under me (with the curved back position), but they still hurt. I was a varsity swimmer for over 7 years and the mileage with poor uncorrected form has left my shoulders in a state that they roll around in the socket, making a gross popping/grinding noise. This form keeps my elbows pointed out past 45 degrees (say 75) from my chest, and this might be the issue. Despite the pain it has been causing, it did temporarily improve my bench numbers.
Before I was using the wider grip, I was using what I was told was a too narrow grip with my pinky just inside the rings. I am able to keep my forearms at 90 degrees if I bring my elbows in tucked towards my body (like a military style pushup.) The problem is, this appears to be a less advantageous angle and creates a much larger ROM, making progression harder.
I have been microloading my bench, so I really think the problem has been finding an advantageous angle that also will allow me to still bench in 20+ years when I am in my 40's and hopefully no longer suffer shoulder issues.
Any tips or tricks I should try?
don't you weight like 220 or something? how many pushups can you do? i'm wondering if at this point in time, it might be more advantageous to work on pushup variations. way less stressful on the shoulder joints
I have a lot of hard miles on my body from before I realized I'm not 100% invulnerable. Now I just think I'm 75% invulnerable. -Mr. Anthony
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What is the arm angle when you bench? Have someone take a picture/video of you from the top while benching. I would guess you're flaring your elbows out when pressing the weight up.
I don't understand why someone would struggle so much with a certain exercise yet continue to do it ?
My advice is ' Stop Benching ', it is an okay exercise if it fits a persons frame but it is by no means a miracle worker. There are other exercises that work the pec muscles far better and cause far less damage to the shoulder structure.
the bench press has always bothered my shoulders and will always bother them. so i just don't do it. and everything's still okay!
If you pause the video at the bottom of the bench, when the bar is touching your chest, you can see a few things. One, the angle between your forearm and the ground, which should ideally be perpendicular, is actually past 90 degrees. So instead of the forearm/head looking like this:
| o |
It looks more like this (of course not as exaggerated):
\ o /
This suggest that your grip is indeed too wide.
The second point, which supports the first one, is that once you start driving the bar up, you can notice that your elbows flare out more to the side, and position the forearm closer to perpendicular. This make sense, because that creates the most efficient force transfer to the bar. However, this flare out, though a bit hard to say from the video angle, is indeed causing your humerus to be close to perpendicular to your body, which is something we definitely want to avoid to prevent shoulder impingement.
My suggestion would be to to bring your arms closer together, and focus on keeping your elbow movement tight, i.e. not letting your elbows flare out once the ascent begins. I think you can also use a tighter shoulder blade tuck and back extension, but it is hard to tell from the video.
Hope this helps.
Decline bench press is more easy on the shoulders, and a "false grip" may also save shoulders, but be very careful to not drop the weight if trying that! Also, dumbbells and machines can replace the bar, nobody "must" do a barbell bench press...