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  1. #1
    Registered User kenpo1978's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Squeezing shoulder blades during the bench press

    At my gym, I have had two conflicting statements with bench pressing form. One member said that you have to keep the shoulder blades squeezed during the bench press and arch your lower back to keep the shoulders from doing most of the work. I asked one of the trainers, who is pretty cut, and he said by doing that you are risking injury to your lower back and your chest can't contract. I've done both techniques and I get the same pump and soreness with both of them. However; it feels ackward squeezing the shoulder blades and arching the lower back and felt uncomfortable. My question is which way is better, because all the fitness magazines can't agree either.
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  2. #2
    Mr. Gecko Kiknskreem's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by kenpo1978 View Post
    I asked one of the trainers, who is pretty cut, and he said by doing that you are risking injury to your lower back and your chest can't contract.
    This guy is dumb.

    An arch, especially a reasonable, non PL style one is perfectly fine on the low back, and failure to keep the shoulder blades together actually causes a lot of the work to be done by the front delts, as well as putting the shoulder joint in a more stressful position.

    Some people who already have certain injuries may wish to keep their back flat, but that doesn't mean a small arch, which represents normal anatomical position is dangerous.
    Last edited by Kiknskreem; 04-02-2009 at 12:52 PM.
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  3. #3
    The generalist. iSkinny's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Kiknskreem View Post
    This guy is dumb.
    x2.
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  4. #4
    Encyclochuzzle chazzy1864's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Kiknskreem View Post
    This guy is dumb.

    An arch, especially a reasonable, non PL style one is perfectly fine on the low back, and failure to keep the shoulder blades together actually causes a lot of the work to be done by the front delts, as well as putting the shoulder joint in a more stressful position.

    Some people who already have certain injuries may wish to keep their back flat, but that doesn't mean a small arch, which represents normal anatomical position is dangerous.
    x2

    When we say keep your lower back arched, we mean maintain your natural arch.

    By letting your shoulders move forward, you force the load onto your delts, which burn out prematurely.
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  5. #5
    Registered User A-Train's Avatar
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    Coming from experience, failure to retract your shoulder blades also puts added strain on your rotator cuff, increasing your risk for injuries such as impingement or tears. Cut back the weight if you have to and nail down the form. The heavier you lift the easier it is to fall back into bad habits in an effort to get the weight up.
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  6. #6
    The BACKMAN DJAuto's Avatar
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    You shouldn't be devoting mental capacity during the lift to maintaining scapular retraction.
    Bodybuilding is 60% training and 50% diet. Yes that adds up to 110%, because that's what you should be giving it. Change the inside, and the physique will follow.
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  7. #7
    Spanish Iron Papi_Chulo's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by DJAuto View Post
    You shouldn't be devoting mental capacity during the lift to maintaining scapular retraction.


    If it helps to keep you injury-free, I don't see why you wouldn't. Kind of like concentrating on keeping your back flat during a squat, no?
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  8. #8
    BigTone tony_mid's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by chazzy1864 View Post
    x2

    When we say keep your lower back arched, we mean maintain your natural arch.

    By letting your shoulders move forward, you force the load onto your delts, which burn out prematurely.
    Ok now I'm a little confused because this guy I lifted with for a while woulld have me arch my back and keep it as tight as possible to wear I could actually feel it pinchingin my lower back. It feels kinda painful but seems to work fine. Is this ok or not because these guys I lifted with were putting up 500-700 with shirts and seemed to fix the shoulder problem I was having from not squezing the shoulder blades together.
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    Spanish Iron Papi_Chulo's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by tony_mid View Post
    Is this ok or not because these guys I lifted with were putting up 500-700 with shirts and seemed to fix the shoulder problem I was having from not squezing the shoulder blades together.

    Sounds like it's okay to me. I guess you just need to ask yourself if this style of bench pressing is conducive to your goals.
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  10. #10
    The BACKMAN DJAuto's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Papi_Chulo View Post
    If it helps to keep you injury-free, I don't see why you wouldn't. Kind of like concentrating on keeping your back flat during a squat, no?
    Individuals over-emphasize the degree of scapular retraction necessary.

    You should maintain a normal state of retraction, not attempt to join the scapulas.
    Bodybuilding is 60% training and 50% diet. Yes that adds up to 110%, because that's what you should be giving it. Change the inside, and the physique will follow.
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  11. #11
    grow stronger comrade rockhuddy's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by DJAuto View Post
    Individuals over-emphasize the degree of scapular retraction necessary.

    You should maintain a normal state of retraction, not attempt to join the scapulas.
    What is a normal state of retraction? I don't walk around with my shoulder blades pinched, but when I bench I sure as hell focus during my setup to get them as tight as possible, and I try to keep them that way while lifting.
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    Originally Posted by Kiknskreem View Post
    This guy is dumb.

    An arch, especially a reasonable, non PL style one is perfectly fine on the low back, and failure to keep the shoulder blades together actually causes a lot of the work to be done by the front delts, as well as putting the shoulder joint in a more stressful position.

    Some people who already have certain injuries may wish to keep their back flat, but that doesn't mean a small arch, which represents normal anatomical position is dangerous.
    Agreed
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    the majority of trainers are idiots...and it's sad too bad a 30 minute class is all some places need.
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  14. #14
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    Now from the last time a similar thread like this was posted Mr. XXX666 copy and pasted some information with a youtube video on bench pressing. I tried that out and it did not seem to work well for me. I did notice on the bench press with barbell i tend to be flatter. When i dumbbell bench press i tend to get a little natural arch in my back. Either way is it essential to use the legs in the bench press? I have never used them other than to plant myself firmly.
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    http://www.criticalbench.com/benchpressarticles8.htm

    i think this is a great article for bench, i agree with every aspect. should answerr some questions
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  16. #16
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    Originally Posted by rockhuddy View Post
    What is a normal state of retraction? I don't walk around with my shoulder blades pinched, but when I bench I sure as hell focus during my setup to get them as tight as possible, and I try to keep them that way while lifting.
    A normal state of retraction is when the shoulders are not rolled forward (i.e. proper posture).

    Individuals commonly over-emphasis the "retraction" factor at the expense of other integral parts of the lift.
    Bodybuilding is 60% training and 50% diet. Yes that adds up to 110%, because that's what you should be giving it. Change the inside, and the physique will follow.
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  17. #17
    Mr. Gecko Kiknskreem's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by DJAuto View Post
    Individuals over-emphasize the degree of scapular retraction necessary.

    You should maintain a normal state of retraction, not attempt to join the scapulas.
    The normal state of your scapulae is not retraction, if one doesn't actively attempt to bring them together, they won't be retracted at all.

    If anything I'd say most people need to become more aware of the need of keeping the shoulder blades together.
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    I don't know about the shoulder blade thing, but i heard about the arching the back. Its a technique that i learned from someone. You keep your legs and feet as wide as you can, grip the bb shoulder width, arch your back as much as you can so the bb is meeting your chest, and then hold/squeeze your chest at the downward position for 3 seconds then push up as fast as you can and repeat. You usually don't use heavy weights for this exercise, but you can do it if you can. I find this technique to help develop bigger pecs.
    Last edited by Henweee; 04-02-2009 at 09:07 PM.
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    Originally Posted by Kiknskreem View Post
    The normal state of your scapulae is not retraction, if one doesn't actively attempt to bring them together, they won't be retracted at all.
    I'm using "retraction" synonymous with proper and relaxed posture - perhaps it's the wrong descriptor (i.e. shoulders not rolled forward.)
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    Originally Posted by tony_mid View Post
    Ok now I'm a little confused because this guy I lifted with for a while woulld have me arch my back and keep it as tight as possible to wear I could actually feel it pinchingin my lower back. It feels kinda painful but seems to work fine. Is this ok or not because these guys I lifted with were putting up 500-700 with shirts and seemed to fix the shoulder problem I was having from not squezing the shoulder blades together.
    Sounds like he was having you use more of a powerlifters arch. It will help you get more weight up, but it has little benefit when it comes to bodybuilding. You could just do your work on a decline bench.
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    Originally Posted by rockhuddy View Post
    What is a normal state of retraction? I don't walk around with my shoulder blades pinched, but when I bench I sure as hell focus during my setup to get them as tight as possible, and I try to keep them that way while lifting.
    I agree. I also choose to keep my back completely flat and keep my legs crossed at the ankles/legs in the air. I'm sure I could manage more weight with my legs in a PL stance, but I've been able to gain a lot of strength this way in both my bench and my core.
    "Any coward can fight a battle when he's sure of winning, but give me the man who has pluck to fight when he's sure of losing. That's my way, sir; and there are many victories worse than a defeat."

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    Greedo shot first!!! LactoseTolerant's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by DJAuto View Post
    Individuals over-emphasize the degree of scapular retraction necessary.

    You should maintain a normal state of retraction, not attempt to join the scapulas.
    I'm getting the sense that you're underemphasizing the amount of retraction needed.
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    I rep what you max! XXX666's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by 00gie_b00gie View Post
    Now from the last time a similar thread like this was posted Mr. XXX666 copy and pasted some information with a youtube video on bench pressing. I tried that out and it did not seem to work well for me. I did notice on the bench press with barbell i tend to be flatter. When i dumbbell bench press i tend to get a little natural arch in my back. Either way is it essential to use the legs in the bench press? I have never used them other than to plant myself firmly.
    how did it not work well, you won't get it there very first time you try it. takes practice to learn a technique.
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    I'm known by other names IamJonsCranium's Avatar
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    If you're looking to gain power on your bench, tuck your blades. For me, I have a weak shoulder, and I want to/need to strengthen that before improving my bench much, so I keep my blades spread and my back flat. Obviously this results in pushing lower weight, but it does what I need it to do.
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    Originally Posted by XXX666 View Post
    how did it not work well, you won't get it there very first time you try it. takes practice to learn a technique.
    When I tried it I seemed to not be able to bench as much then with my regular bench style. I just cant seem to incorporate the leg pushing while lifting.
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    Originally Posted by LactoseTolerant View Post
    I'm getting the sense that you're underemphasizing the amount of retraction needed.
    Each to their own.
    Bodybuilding is 60% training and 50% diet. Yes that adds up to 110%, because that's what you should be giving it. Change the inside, and the physique will follow.
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    Even before I was ever into powerlifting I would pinch my shoulder blades back during any pressing movement. Not only is it going to keep your entire shoulder girdle a lot more stable on the bench, but for me it always allowed a greater feeling ROM and stretch on my chest during pressing movements. When you lay flat like a dead fish on the bench, you will have less control over the weight and end up getting a lot of work from stabilizers and assistance muscles rather then the major groups you are trying to work.
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    Originally Posted by IamJonsCranium View Post
    For me, I have a weak shoulder, and I want to/need to strengthen that before improving my bench much, so I keep my blades spread and my back flat. Obviously this results in pushing lower weight, but it does what I need it to do.
    Have you considered doing presses to serve this purpose instead of benching this way?
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    I've been benching for a while now, although over the years have always been on and off.

    I just started doing the arch/squeezing shoulder thing as I believe this is correct form. I tried it for the first time the other day and found my right shoulder kept naturally coming out when I pushed the weight up, mostly when unmounting the weight from the bench.

    I guess like some have said it takes time to learn/execute naturally and correctly. Will keep trying.
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    Originally Posted by IamJonsCranium View Post
    If you're looking to gain power on your bench, tuck your blades. For me, I have a weak shoulder, and I want to/need to strengthen that before improving my bench much, so I keep my blades spread and my back flat. Obviously this results in pushing lower weight, but it does what I need it to do.

    actually that results in putting more pressure on ur shoulders which is unneccessary in ur case.
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