By Mike Westerdal – Author of the Critical Bench Program 2.0
Almost everyone you talk to says they want to increase their bench press, but unfortunately some guys skip the exercise. The number one excuse I get, “I can’t bench press because my shoulders hurt.” Its true bench pressing with bad form can cause shoulder injuries but there is a way to alleviate this. I had the same issues myself and thought my heavy benching days were over. That is until several years ago when I met with a powerlifting coach and discovered this tip.
As you bench press, keep your elbows tucked in close to your body. By doing this the path of the bar will change a bit. The bar will touch a little lower on your chest right below your nipples. The fact you’re touching the bar lower on your chest will decrease the pressure on your deltoids.
The further you are from your center the less leverage you have. When you tuck your elbows and keep them from flaring out you transfer the load to your triceps taking pressure off the shoulder complex.
Touching the bar lower and keeping your elbows in close will allow the bar to travel in a straight line. We all know the fastest way from point A to point B is with a straight line. Give this technique a try. You may drop in poundage the first few workouts, but you’ll skyrocket past where you were in the past in record time.
Example of Tucked Elbows
Notice in the photograph above (courtesy of SAS Digital Memories) the lifter has his elbows tucked in nice and close to his sides. This forces him to touch the bar a little lower on the chest, just below the nipples. You’ll also notice that his forearms are perpendicular to the bar and perfectly straight for maximum leverage.
Example of Flared Elbows
This is an example of a lifter that has flared elbows. It is not wrong to do this it just puts more pressure on the shoulders. If you we were to follow the path of the bar I’d guess that the it would touch higher on the chest probably at or above the nipples. Personally I prefer the tucked elbows technique. Photos courtesy of Brian Silk of SAS Digital Memories.
When you start practicing this technique use a much lighter weight until you get the form down. In fact, it may take several weeks to get it down. You might feel a bit weaker at first, but it’s one of those situations where you take 1 step backward to take 3 steps forward. That’s how it worked out for me anyhow.
Keep training hard!
Author of the Critical Bench Program 2.0
Click Here to find out how a skinny kid with athsma achieved a 452 pound bench press & packed on 75 pounds of muscle mass in the process! True story.