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Bench Press Article Part 1 - Material LIFTED from Starting Strength

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Old 03-03-2007, 01:42 PM   #1
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Default Bench Press Article Part 1 - Material LIFTED from Starting Strength

hi everyone

incase u dont follow my journal, one of my lifts which sucks and which i am trying VERY hard to improve in is the bench press. this is supposedly the most technical lift of all times.

so, ive been reading a lot of bench press technique articles on
www.t-nation.com
www.elitefts.com
www.forum.bodybuilding.com
www.bodybuilding.net

and after doing all that research ive read Starting Strength and what i am about to write is directly from that. this is not my stuff and i may have changed a few words here and there but this stuff is essentially written by Mark Rippetoe. it helped me and i hope it helps others. i am merely listing important points. if u want to know the reasonng behind them, please read the book. in either case i advise everyone to read Starting Strength and Practical Programming.

THE BENCH PRESS

Teaching The Bench Press
1.) Starting the Lift
Always start the lift with an empty bar.

2.) Immediate Position
When you lie down, make sure lie on the bench with your eyes looking straight up. When you look up stragiht, your eyes must be on the thumb side of the bar.

3.) Foot Spacing
Your feet should be flat on the grount at a comfortable spacing comparable to to the squat stance, with shins approximately vertical.

4.) Back Position
Your upper back sould be flat against the bench, with the lower back in an anatomically normal arched position.

5.) Grip
You must have an overhand grip on the bar.

6.) Bar Positioning on the Hand
The bar should rest on the heel of the palm, directly over the bones of the forearm, and not in the palm near the fingers, so that power being transmitted to the bar up the arms foes directly to the bar without being channeled through the wrist. The fingers should wrap around the bar AFTER the bar has been set correctly on the heel of the hand. This grip is best accomplished by turning the hands and elbows out, with a slight internal rotation of the arm.

7.) Trick
Stare at the place on the ceiling where the bar is to go. DO NOT look at the bar as it moves. This little trick works 90% of the time, the first time it is used.
Hands and Grip
1.) The Dumb Mistake
Maybe the biggest, dumbest, most common problem involving the hands is the use of the thumbless grip.

2.) Threat
The same position can be obtained with the thumb hooked around the bar with little change in the elbow position, and the risk of having an unsecured bar over the face and throat is just too great to tolerate in a public facility.

3.) Squeezing
Squeezing involves closing the bar until effective pressure can be applied with the forearm muscles in isometric contraction, increasing the tightness of the muscles on the distal side of the elbow, making rebound out of the bottom more efficeint, and increasing motor unit recruitment throughout the arms and upper body.

4.) The Main Point
The point is that since the standard grip is safer and more effective, it should be used by everybody that has thumbs. The most efficeint transmissiob of power to the bar would be directly from the heel of the palm to the bar.

5.) Placement
The grip should be positioned with this in mind, with the bar placed directly over the palm heel and then the hand rotated out so that the thumb can hook around the bar. Once the hand is in positon, the palm of the hand should be tightened so that the bar is well supported and does not move during the rep. Tell the trainee to "squeeze your hand like you are trying to squeeze the bones of your forearm together" (message to coach). The thumb does not interfere with this position at all. Once the thumb is secured the fingers should wrap arounf the bar. Finger position is less important, as the bar is secured too far back in the hand if the fingers are thought to be the thing that grips and controls the bar.
Elbows
1.) Forearm
The forearm will ALWAYS be vertical i.e. perpendicular to the floor.

2.) Elbow
The elbow will ALWAYS be directly under the bar.

3.) Why Shoulder Problem Occur
shoulder problems are commonly associated with the bench press, because of the this elbow involvement. The tendons of the biceps, as they arise from and cross the abrasion they are subjected to when the elbows flail around during an uncontrolled trip to the chest and back. Bicep tendon injuries are probably the most commonly encountered shoulder injury in the weight room; they are hard to treat and hard to heal up. Be careful about this.

4.) Elbow Positioning
Coaches should watch elbow position with these factors in mind. Elbow position will vary among trainees, and as long as the humeral angle is in the ballpark and the angle does not change during the rep, or change much during the set, it will not need to be corrected.
Chest
1.) High Chest Position
The higher the chest position above the arms, the better the pull the pec/delts has on the arms. The attainment and maintainence of this position is a function of the muscles of the upper back, and will be discussed below.

2.) Range of Motion
The use of full range of motion is thereofre important for two veru good reasons.
  • Firstly, it allows us to quantify work: if we hold the range of motion of an exercise constant, we are holding constant the distance variable in our work equation. Then, if the force we exert on the load increases (if we lift more weight) we know that our work has increased for a given number of reps. We know we're moving the weight the same distance, and the weight is heavier, so we know we're stronger. It allows us to compare performances both betweem lifters and between our own performances over time. If everybody touches his chest with the bar evertime he benhces, progress - or lack thereof - can be assessed. This obviosuly applies to every exercise with a prescribed range of motion.
  • Secondly, full range of motion exercise ensures that strength is developed in every psotion that the joint can work.

3.) Rebound
It takes practise and good timing to tighten up the bottom of the movement enough that a correct rebound can be done every rep.
Shoulders and Upper Back
1.) Basic Position
First, the shoulders need to be planted firmly against the bench, and taken together with the muscles of the upper back (the ones between the shoulders), used as a platform to drive against while pushing the bar.

2.) Mechanical Efficiency
The upper back and shoulders push the bench and they need to be right while doing so, just as the hands are tight against the bar. The shoulders in their adducted position and the upper back muscles, as they contract and rotate or "tolt" the upper back into a chest-up position, push the ribcage up and hold the chest higher above the bench. This incrases the mechanical efficency of the pec/delt contraction by steepening the angle of attack on the humerus, as discussed earlier.

3.) Back Tight?
Keeping the back tight is a difficult thing for some novice trainees to do. For them they should be told to "drive against the bench" with his chest up. As a coach, make him sit at the edge of the bench and toch him with your right hand right between the scapulae and say "pinch my hand betwee your shoulder blades". this is the posiiton he should take while benching.

4.) Shoulder Movement
During the lift, minimal shoulder movement should occur. The thing that moves is the elbow. If the shoulder moves much, something in the upper back has loosened and the chest has lost some of its "up" position.
Neck
1.) Function of Neck Muscles
The function of the neck muscles is to maintain head position, and to protect the cervical spine during the loading of the chest and upper back as the bar comes down on the chest.

2.) Using your Head to Push
You do not use your head to bench press. DO NOT PUSH THE HEAD INTO THE BENCH. This is an excellent way to injure the neck.

3.) A Practical Matter
As a practical matter, this involves holding the head about a half-inch off the bench during the rep.
Lower Back, Hips and Legs
1.) Leg Drive. How to Achieve it. A note to the coach.
Have your trainee lie down in position on the bench. After a warm-up set, lean over the bar above his chest and place a hand on each shoulder, with thumb and forefinger around his deltoid. Make sure his feet are planted correctly. Push his shoulders down into the bench and say "This is the weight of the bar holding your shoulders down. Now, psuh back towards me with your legs, but keep your butt down while you do." You should observe his ribcage come up as his back arches. Look at his hips - they should not elevate musch more than can be accounted for by tghtening the glutes, but they should slide up the bench towards the shoulders a little. Now take your hands away, have him take the bar out and reset the back and do a set of five.. Watch to make sure he maintains the chest and back position for all 5 reps.
Feet
1.) General
The feet must be in the correct position ON the floor, and they must be positioned AGAINST the floor correctly.

2.) Foot Placement
The feet need to be wide enough apart to provide lateral stability for the hips and - though the tighness in the trunk muscles - the torso as it is planted on the bench.

3.) Proper Foot Position
Proper foot position should be flat against the floor so that heels can be used as the base of the drive up the legs. As with most other things in the weight room, heels need to be down.
----------------------------------------------------x----------------------------------------------------

as i mentioned above, this is just a few points here and there. i have not taken each and every word but merely a few interesting points. i have left out:
1.) Racking / Unracking Errors
2.) Breathing
3.) Spotters
in this part. however in Part 2 i will mention all of this.

once again: go buy both his books and read the 30-40 pages on the bench press with diagrams and pictures on your own.

peace

Sentinel

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Old 03-03-2007, 02:24 PM   #2
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5.) Placement
The grip should be positioned with this in mind, with the bar placed directly over the palm heel and then the hand rotated out so that the thumb can hook around the bar. Once the hand is in positon, the palm of the hand should be tightened so that the bar is well supported and does not move during the rep. Tell the trainee to "squeeze your hand like you are trying to squeeze the bones of your forearm together" (message to coach). The thumb does not interfere with this position at all. Once the thumb is secured the fingers should wrap arounf the bar. Finger position is less important, as the bar is secured too far back in the hand if the fingers are thought to be the thing that grips and controls the bar.[/INDENT].
This is something that I don't do. When I first started working out I did, but over the years I have changed my style so that my thumb is on the same side as my fingers... Don't know why I have changed over the years, I think maybe because a lot of people do it that way (that I have lifted with)...Anyone else ?

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Old 03-03-2007, 02:32 PM   #3
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No I've always used a standard grip. Doing it thumbless, it would seem to me, means your wrist has to be beant back more therfore putting all the force on the bone. I wouldn't do that but to each his on. (See how that rhymed?)

Good work. I think though you need to recognize the target audience for Starting Strength which is primarily other coaches. Therefore a lot of assumptions are made in terms of coaching commons sense. The one part that stands out for me is the part about shoulder problems.

Reading that will make people think that if they pay attention to elbow positioning they will be safe from shouder problems. But SO many of the long terms shoulder problems come simply from the fact that the bench is given so much emphasis by everyone (perhaps undeservedly). It's all about the pecs for the average trainee. They do more bench than anything else. They don't balance it with back work or anything else. They do zero overhead pressing. And they end up with chronic shoulder problems in the long run.

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If you act sanctimonious I will just list out your logical fallacies until you get pissed off and spew blasphemous remarks.
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Old 03-03-2007, 02:32 PM   #4
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1.) The Dumb Mistake
Maybe the biggest, dumbest, most common problem involving the hands is the use of the thumbless grip.
Same here TALO. I've routinely hit 405 pressing like this and never felt better..
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Old 03-03-2007, 10:12 PM   #5
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Default Bench Press Article Part 2 - Material LIFTED from Starting Strength

ok so as promised here is Part 2

THE BENCH PRESS

Racking / Un-Racking Errors
1.) Face and Throat Safety
At all times, when the bar is moving over the face and throat coming out of or going back into the rack, the elbows must be locked out straight. When unracking the bar, the elbows must lockout while the bar is still over the hooks of the rack. This means that the elbows drive the bar up along the uprights until they lock out, and only then does the bar move down over the nipples to the start position. The triceps should lock out the elbows over the rack hooks so that the bones of the arm are in a straight line and the weight is being supported by the skeletal components instead of the muscles when the bar moves over the head and neck.

2.) Starting Movement
The bar should move all the way out over the chest to the start position, without stopping above the chin or throat. It is common to see novices stop the bar short of the starting position, lower the first rep to the chest, and finally end up in the correct position just in time to start the second rep. When the bar gets all the way there and the eyes have found their place against the ceiling, the bar should start down , but not until then. If he stops short repeatedly point out that the bar is over his throat and that the throat is a bad place to lower the bar.

3.) "J" Movement is BAD
Some pople get in the habit of taking it down to the chest right out of the rack. It should never start down before it is in place - there will be the bar path problems if it does, due to the lack of an initial ceiling reference for position, and the fact that the bar is going back to a different place than it started from. It makes the first rep different from the next ones. It prevents the lifter from getting a good, right start on the reps, since shoulders and upper back cannot be correctly set until the bar is in position over the chest. And it indicated a lack of patience, an unwillingness to take the few extra seconds to prepare properly.

4.) Racking it correctly after the set has fatigued the muscles
If the trainee misses the rack hooks because a tired elbow is not locked out, and the spotter is not paying attention (believe it or not, this actually happens!), atleast one side of the bar is going to come down. The bench press MUST end in elbow lockout, directly above the chest, everytime, or the rep should not be counted. When racking the bar, make sure that your trainees are taught to find the uprights with the bar and not to try to set the bar down on the hooks. If the uprights are tocuhed first, it will always be above the hooks; if straightening out the elbows got it clear of the hooks when taking it out, then locked elbows will ensure that it is high enough to get back over the hooks when putting it up.
Breathing
1.) Basic Tranfer of Power
In the bench press, breathing provides support for the chest. This takes the form of increased throughout the thoracic cavity due to the increase in pressure provided by the big, held breath. A tight ribcage allows for a more efficeint transfer of power to the bar by the muscles attached to it when they contract.

2.) Abs
In the extended spinal position that the arch requires on the bench, the abs cannot tighten. They cannot therefore increase intra-abdominal pressure, and cannot contribute to the needed increase in intra-thoracic pressure, thus making the big breath the sole source of support for the chest.

3.) Pattern of Breathing
The pattern of breathing during the bench is dependent on the length of the set and the abilities of the lifter. Novices should be instructed to take a breath before each rep, hold it during the rep, and exhale at lockout, using the very brief break between the reps to make sure everything is set correctly. More experienced lifters may prefer to use one breath for the entire set - any exhalation involves a certain amount of loosening of the chest to exhale and re-inhale, and some may elect to stay tight for all the reps if the set is important. Most people can only manage five reps this way before the discomfort from the hypoxia becomes too distracting. For a longer set, other arrangements will need to be made.

4.) Breath Timing
The breath is to be taken BEFORE the rep. If the breath is taken during the rep, the lungs will incompletely fill due to the loading of the ribcage by the now-contracted pecs. If the breath is taken at the top with locked elbows, the pecs are not pulling on the ribcage and a more complete inhalation can take place. Moreover, when the rep starts everything should be right, from the floor to the fingernails, and this rightness will prevent a really big breath. If you can breathe during a rep, you're not tight enough.

5.) Tidal Volume
No breath taken during a set will involve a complete exhale/inhale of full tidal volume. This takes too long, requires too much relaxation, and is unnecessary. Breathing during the set consists only of topping off the huge breath taken before the first rep, after a quick exhalation the might consists of only 10% of tidal volume. The short transfer of air accomplishes just enough to allow the set to be finished. The fact that it amounts to so little air is the reason many lifters decide to forego it in favour of maintaining tightness. Most of the time, if a lifter stops in the middle of a set to take two or more relative full breaths, he is about to miss the next rep.
Spotters
1.) Predominant Need for Spotters
Spotters should be there for safety, when there is a question of safety - spotters should NOt be there to help with a set.

2.) New Rule
No rep counts that is TOUCHED by anybody other than the lifter. Nobody touches the bar that is still moving up.

3.) Honesty and Effectiveness of a Program
If the numbers being reported out of the program are not honest, you have absolutely no way to evaluate the program. This obviously applies to all lifts that customarily require spotters.

4.) When to Use Spotters
The first warm-up sets are not a safety concern and do not require spotters, unless they are providing a coaching function. As the weight gets heavier, more trainees will need a spot, some needing one on the last warm-up, until the work sets, where everybody should be spotted because the weight is supposed to be heavy. Excessive caution, and the insistence that every set be spotted, is inefficient, unnecessary, and hard to enforce. It is much more productive to yell about spotters grabbing the last rep of a work set than to bother everybody about getting a spot for the first warm-up set.

5.) The Handoff
One of the actual functions of the spotter is the handoff. A good handoff is one of those rare commodities - there are more bad ones than good. A bad handoff interferes with the lifters timing, balance, view of the ceiling, and concetration, if he is one of those people that thinks his participation in the rep is essential. A good handoff spotter is experienced and appropriate with the timing and force of his bar contact, respectful of the mental requirements of the lifter, and above all, conservative about when and how much to help.
-----------------------------------------------x-----------------------------------------------

ok so thats it. the complete Bench Press chapter in a small nutshell. please go buy the book. actually, buy both books.

peace

Sentinel
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