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  1. #1
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    bench press: flared or tucked elbows?

    ive been doing the bench press for a month and a half now with no training. just reading up on it and watching videos. Ive been trying to get my upper arms and forearms 90degree angle and flare them out like how my arms are in my avatar.

    once i hit the heavier weights (more than 100) ive been experiencing pain INSIDE my shoulders most likely rotator cuffs.

    should I try to tuck them in like a powerlifter?
    and yes i do plenty of shoulder warmups
    current/ goals by christmas break
    bench - 155/185
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  2. #2
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    lol, of course you should be tucking, not only is it the proper way to press but you will move more weight, and reduce injury.
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  3. #3
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    Keep your elbows flared if your goal is to train chest. Just make sure its comfortable and natural ROM.
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    Originally Posted by heidt410 View Post
    Keep your elbows flared if your goal is to train chest. Just make sure its comfortable and natural ROM.
    what?

    this is wrong on so many levels.
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  5. #5
    Under Construction unity's Avatar
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    having them flared will work your pecs more but also hit your delts/rc a lot harder, as i am sure you have noticed. tucking them will hit the tris more. i personally like to go somewhere inbetween.

    btw, if your RC hurts, i recommend cutting out bench press and all direct shoulder work for a couple weeks. losing a couple weeks is a lot better than losing several months, and thats exactly what will happen if you get injured.
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    I keep my arms tucked regardless of whatever evidence anyone can bring to suggest otherwise. The bench press involve a whole lot more than just your chest, and if I wanted to isolate it better, I'd just go and do some crossovers.
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  7. #7
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    Originally Posted by heidt410 View Post
    Keep your elbows flared if your goal is to train chest. Just make sure its comfortable and natural ROM.
    Originally Posted by thisforumsuks View Post
    what?

    this is wrong on so many levels.
    elbows tucked in puts the weight more on the tris, brah.
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    he speaks about training heavy, and according to his sig his goals are numbers, which means hes looking to push more weight, which means his elbows should be IN, brah.
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    Chest=elbows out

    do you do flys with your elbows tucked in?
    And this is bodybuilding.com, there is a powerlifting subforum.

    I guess he is wrong on so many levels
    http://thefitshow.com/week3/milos_chest_med.htm
    Last edited by heidt410; 05-12-2008 at 10:33 PM.
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  10. #10
    Under Construction unity's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by heidt410 View Post
    elbows tucked in puts the weight more on the tris, brah.
    Originally Posted by thisforumsuks View Post
    he speaks about training heavy, and according to his sig his goals are numbers, which means hes looking to push more weight, which means his elbows should be IN, brah.
    you guys arent even arguing the same point. heidt410 is stating that to focus on your pecs, keep the elbows flared. this is a generally accepted technique for bb purposes.

    thisforumsuks says that to put up more weight, keep the elbows tucked. this is true primarily because of the shorter ROM.

    2 different points, making the debate... well... pointless.
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    From Eric Cressey's incredible Shoulder Saver Series

    Shoulder Saver #3: Learn to Bench Press Correctly.

    This might very well be the most important one of all. I must admit that when I see a lifter benching with his elbows flared and his back flat, it makes me cringe ? not only because he's ruining his shoulders, but also because he's really limiting his strength potential.

    There's an old saying that a lot of great bench pressers have repeated when discussing the importance of the upper back in benching: "You can't shoot a cannon out of a canoe." If you don't have the underlying stability to press big weights, the soft tissues of the shoulder joint are going to suffer the consequences.

    Stability is affected by both neuromuscular factors and positional factors; simply repositioning yourself on the bench can markedly increase your strength without any chronic changes to your neuromuscular system's ability to move the weight. Here's what you need to do:

    1. Line up on the bench so that your eyes are about 3-4 inches toward your feet from the bar (in other words, the bar is almost directly above the top of your head). From there, retract your shoulder blades hard. Next, push yourself back up until your eyes are directly under the bar; at this position, your scapulae should still be retracted, but also depressed down toward your feet as well. If you do it right, your rib cage should pop right up.

    2. Set your feet, and lock them into place. The position of the feet is going to be dependent on a number of factors, but what doesn't change is the fact that they need to be fixed in place.

    3. Decide on what degree of arch you want to use. For general health purposes, it doesn't need to be much. Obviously, powerlifters are going to need to push the envelope on this front. The more arch, the more it'll feel like a decline bench press. Declines will always be easier on the shoulder girdle than flat bench pressing.

    4. Grasp the bar and USE A HANDOFF from your training partner. Lifting off to yourself is a sure-fire way to lose the tightness you've just established in your upper back. Keep the shoulder blades back and down!

    5. As you lower the bar, keep the upper arms at a 45-degree angle to the torso; tuck the elbows instead of letting them flare out. It's well documented that the elbows-flared ("bodybuilder-style") bench markedly increases stress on the glenohumeral joint. Also, keep your wrists under your elbows instead of letting them roll back.

    6. Get a belly full of air and make the abdomen and chest rise up to meet the bar as it descends. Think of it as creating a springboard for moving big weights and, just as importantly, keeping those shoulder blades back to save your taters from undue stress.

    7. Do not excessively protract the shoulder blades at the top of the rep; you shouldn't lose your tightness prior to descending into the subsequent rep.
    If you haven't read the series, it's definitely worth doing

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  12. #12
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    Originally Posted by unity View Post
    you guys arent even arguing the same point. heidt410 is stating that to focus on your pecs, keep the elbows flared. this is a generally accepted technique for bb purposes.

    thisforumsuks says that to put up more weight, keep the elbows tucked. this is true primarily because of the shorter ROM.

    2 different points, making the debate... well... pointless.
    look who started it...everything I said I know is correct. He's the one who said I was wrong.
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    keep them tucked, your chest will still get plenty of stimulation and you should be able to use more weight, plus your shoulder joints won't be suffering.
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    Originally Posted by Mr. Aries View Post
    I keep my arms tucked regardless of whatever evidence anyone can bring to suggest otherwise. The bench press involve a whole lot more than just your chest, and if I wanted to isolate it better, I'd just go and do some crossovers.
    Well said, I wouldn't have it any other way.
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    Flaring your elbows out to 90* is terrible on your shoulders.

    Keep your shoulder blades tucked back too.

    Originally Posted by heidt410 View Post
    Keep your elbows flared if your goal is to tear your rotator cuffs into pieces
    fixed


    he is asking about shoulder problems when benching... making your advice terrible.

    As long as you're using full ROM and you keep your shoulder blades tucked back, your chest will be getting plenty of work.
    Last edited by Davtown; 05-12-2008 at 11:30 PM.
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    Tucked. No doubt about it.
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    Originally Posted by Davtown View Post
    Flaring your elbows out to 90* is terrible on your shoulders.

    Keep your shoulder blades tucked back too.



    fixed


    he is asking about shoulder problems when benching... making your advice terrible.

    As long as you're using full ROM and you keep your shoulder blades tucked back, your chest will be getting plenty of work.

    thank you, apparently reading between the lines is a concept lost on some.

    the OP asked about stress on the shoulder and putting up more numbers, meaning that the adive about elbows out is not what hes looking for.

    OP, elbos in, scapulae retracted, ass down, feet down, low back arched. bring the bar to mid-low chest and push it up and back over your head.
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    Tucked with a narrower grip than most "bodybuilding" standards. There was a great article by Bill Starr on how to bench and save your shoulders, I will see if I can find it. Some bbers say to use flared elbows but they say you have to use light weight. For most people elbows tucked is the best way. even with elbows tucked you can still target the chest with alot of focus by pulling shoulderblades back, inflating ribcage, and having a slight arch in your back with your butt still on the bench.
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  19. #19
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    Originally Posted by djansen View Post
    Tucked with a narrower grip than most "bodybuilding" standards. There was a great article by Bill Starr on how to bench and save your shoulders, I will see if I can find it. Some bbers say to use flared elbows but they say you have to use light weight. For most people elbows tucked is the best way. even with elbows tucked you can still target the chest with alot of focus by pulling shoulderblades back, inflating ribcage, and having a slight arch in your back with your butt still on the bench.
    Great advice........
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  20. #20
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    I flare my elbows, have for many years. No shoulder problems, but I do get very good chest growth.

    Following the advice in that Milos video has given me very good results.
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    Both are right.
    Proper form is with your elbows out coming down to 90* not passing the plane between your elbows and shoulders.
    Biggest problems people come into with benching with arms out, is that they drop below the plane causing excessive strain and weight on their anterior delts.
    For people who bench with elbows out I would suggest stopping at 90 whether it hits your chest or not.
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    Registered User zeppelin8778's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by -Ironside- View Post
    Both are right.
    Proper form is with your elbows out coming down to 90* not passing the plane between your elbows and shoulders.
    Biggest problems people come into with benching with arms out, is that they drop below the plane causing excessive strain and weight on their anterior delts.
    For people who bench with elbows out I would suggest stopping at 90 whether it hits your chest or not.
    jesus thank you! i hate when people say you have to touch your chest... its basically no longer a chest workout once you pass 90 degrees in the elbows, and just puts TONS of strain on your shoulders... **** touching the chest, 90 degrees is correct
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    Registered User nykwan's Avatar
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    I don't do either. The elbows go where they go naturally. I never force them straight out (flared) or pulled tight to my body (tucked).
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    Registered User nykwan's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by zeppelin8778 View Post
    its basically no longer a chest workout once you pass 90 degrees in the elbows, and just puts TONS of strain on your shoulders... **** touching the chest, 90 degrees is correct
    ...only if you are flaring your shoulders out...else I would go all the way down. I feel it in the chest all the way down.
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    Registered User m0neymike's Avatar
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    arite two questions:

    1 - when you squeeze your shoulder blades and your supposed to keep them squeezed?..i don't see how you'd be able to push up the bar hardly at all..anyone have a link to a video demonstration?

    2 - it says to have a partner lift off for you..well what about people that don't have a workout partner..don't bench unless you have a partner?



    nvm i just seen the video on tnation
    Last edited by m0neymike; 05-13-2008 at 12:09 PM.
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    Under Construction unity's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by zeppelin8778 View Post
    jesus thank you! i hate when people say you have to touch your chest... its basically no longer a chest workout once you pass 90 degrees in the elbows, and just puts TONS of strain on your shoulders... **** touching the chest, 90 degrees is correct
    i disagree man. i feel it in my chest the deeper i go. touch your hands together behind your back, dont you feel it in your chest? some people also like dbs because it allows them to have a greater ROM.

    i do agree though that for some people, touch chest can be bad for your shoulders. shoulder problems should be avoided.
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    Originally Posted by nykwan View Post
    I don't do either. The elbows go where they go naturally. I never force them straight out (flared) or pulled tight to my body (tucked).
    x2

    In between flared and tucked at an angle feels like a much more natural pressing motion for me.
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    Originally Posted by Shawdowfox View Post
    ive been doing the bench press for a month and a half now with no training. just reading up on it and watching videos. Ive been trying to get my upper arms and forearms 90degree angle and flare them out like how my arms are in my avatar.

    once i hit the heavier weights (more than 100) ive been experiencing pain INSIDE my shoulders most likely rotator cuffs.

    should I try to tuck them in like a powerlifter?
    and yes i do plenty of shoulder warmups

    is this a joke? Always tuck your elbows when benching
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    Originally Posted by unity View Post
    i disagree man. i feel it in my chest the deeper i go. touch your hands together behind your back, dont you feel it in your chest? some people also like dbs because it allows them to have a greater ROM.

    i do agree though that for some people, touch chest can be bad for your shoulders. shoulder problems should be avoided.
    yeah i guess i am at a disadvantage because i suffered an AC separation snowboarding a year or so ago and it never healed well (pretty much a shoulder separation)

    so if i go lower than 90 it just rips up my right shoulder and i have to stop for the day
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    Smile

    Aright, the proper way to do the bench press is to keep your arms 45 degrees from your torso, or in other words half way between flared out and touching your sides. when your elbows are flared out, the ball joint inside your shoulder can rub against the acromion(top part of shoulder joint) which can lead to painful inflammation. so just keep your arms tucked in a little bit, and you should be good. bench is a good workout for your chest, but is a compound movement. Dumbell presses work the chest and shoulders more than in the bench press and the triceps less. They're also great for developing shoulder stability by strengthening the stabilizer muscles.
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