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  1. #1
    Registered User kikkimouse's Avatar
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    Unhappy Bench press doesn't work my chest

    When I bench press, my arms get sore and exhausts before the chest. I can't feel the chest do any work, and it is never sore or tired after the workout. Theres no progression with the bench press. Arms and shoulders do all the work.

    I'm pretty sure my technique is correct, as I have tried wide and narrow grips, different bar positions and elbow angles, arching the lower back, pushing the lats together, squeezing the bar, keeping the shoulders down and stretching the chest. The problem is that I don't know how to use my pecs.

    Actually it's hard for me to stretch the pecs statically. When I put my hand on the chest muscle and push my hand like bench pressing, I can't feel the chest doing the work. Also my chest is very flat. I have heard about mind muscle connection problem but I'm not sure what it means.

    Should I try some isolating excercises to build and learn to use my chest muscles?
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  2. #2
    stretching blows boathead's Avatar
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    sounds like you are using a powerlifter's form, which is cool. but a powerlifter form is actually a poor pec recruiter. it slams triceps and anterior delts more, imo. pecs are 3rd in the pecking order, lats being 4th.

    maybe switch to a bodybuilding form....flare elbows a bit, and don't bring the bar too low on your body. that'll bring more pec into play. also, a wider grip will help.

    fwiw....i use a powerlifter form. after i bench, i then do some pec dec to isolate the pecs. dumbbells also will help to isolate chest a bit.
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  3. #3
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    Didn't mention if only talking about barbell bench, or all bench press in general. If just barbell, might want to give dumbbells a shot. It can feel more natural then BB for some people. I suck on the bb bench press, but progress on the db. Also, might want to look at some sort of decline. I personally like the Hammer Decline, as like I said before I dont like the BB much, and getting the db's in position for decline can be tricky. If none of this works, just need to cut your weights, perhaps in half, and really try to focus on the mind muscle connection.
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  4. #4
    Forever Bulking Yodums's Avatar
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    Are you just determining how effective the exercise is by the burn or soreness? Because if you are, then I would say that is a poor method. Your arms are a secondary muscle in the press, so you will feel exhaustion if they can't keep up or just burn in general. I've made good progress on my chest, but my chest doesn't get sore from bench (it does from flyes). You should look at other variables, such as chest size, lifts going up, etc.

    Other than that, the general (and vague) response you will most likely get is to switch from barbell to dumbbell, or vice versa. But I think that advice may not pinpoint what exactly is wrong.
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  5. #5
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    Originally Posted by Yodums View Post
    Are you just determining how effective the exercise is by the burn or soreness? Because if you are, then I would say that is a poor method. Your arms are a secondary muscle in the press, so you will feel exhaustion if they can't keep up or just burn in general. I've made good progress on my chest, but my chest doesn't get sore from bench (it does from flyes). You should look at other variables, such as chest size, lifts going up, etc.

    Other than that, the general (and vague) response you will most likely get is to switch from barbell to dumbbell, or vice versa. But I think that advice may not pinpoint what exactly is wrong.
    I agree. Your arms will get fatigued regardless. People will argue DB Bench vs. BB Bench until they're blue in the face. From personal experience, I will say that I feel a better pec squeeze if I use DB Bench (and touch the DBs at the top of the motion, bringing in a bit of a DB Fly).

    And also, unless you have good size, or a big chest, then you wouldn't feel your chest muscles.

    Maybe a good thing to do is post a video of you benching.
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  6. #6
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  7. #7
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    sounds like youve tried several different forms.. how long have you been lifting?..maybe start with some pushups and build your chest a little more
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  8. #8
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    Maybe your arms need time to condition themselves, since they are weaker than your chest.
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  9. #9
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    Originally Posted by liftingson View Post
    sounds like youve tried several different forms.. how long have you been lifting?..maybe start with some pushups and build your chest a little more
    Good move. Pushups would allow you to build a good base of arm/chest strength before getting into benching, especially if you haven't been lifting long.
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  10. #10
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    OP, how much do you actually bench press?
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  11. #11
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    try put the feet on the bench, and do the bench nice and controlled.
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  12. #12
    Registered User kikkimouse's Avatar
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    Thank you for fast replies.

    I'm beginner, I have bench pressed for 6 months with Rippetoe's 3x5, in 3 months cycles, a long break between them. But I can't bench over 42kg 3x5

    Diet is fine, as I have gained 4kg of muscle/fat in 3 months, and squat have improved a lot (Now I squat 3x5x70kg), and my bodyheight/weight is 180cm/70kg

    Did I mention, that I'm ectomorph
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  13. #13
    Registered User kikkimouse's Avatar
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    I have improved my bench press by 3kg from my last post, and my triceps doesn't exhaust anymore at all, but my right shoulder hurts at the final rep. Feels like it dislocates, when I push the bar up. I wonder why it's always the right shoulder...
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    One thing that really helps me to recruit more pec fibers is to visualize yourself (and actually attempt) bending the bar as you push it up.
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  15. #15
    Legen-Dairy justroberson's Avatar
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    SO you have been on SS for 5 months, you're ~5'10 154lbs, and you can only bench ~100lbs. I think I know what your problem is.

    This may sound harsh, but you need to eat more and do the program correctly. Gain some strength and bodyweight, I guarantee the bench will "work your chest" once you're no longer using baby weights.
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  16. #16
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    Originally Posted by justroberson View Post
    SO you have been on SS for 5 months, you're ~5'10 154lbs, and you can only bench ~100lbs. I think I know what your problem is.

    This may sound harsh, but you need to eat more and do the program correctly. Gain some strength and bodyweight, I guarantee the bench will "work your chest" once you're no longer using baby weights.
    That...as I figured OP is worrying about advanced topics when he hasn't even gotten the basics down yet. OP probably doesn't feel his chest being worked because he's not even benching 100lbs....
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  17. #17
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    I'd say that you should try to switch to DB and see if they work your chest better?...

    DB flies work my chest insanely, but i gain in strength only if i go benching. DB press helps me contract chest much much nicer and harder, because of my arms and constitution.....

    But i go for BB bench press, DB bench press and db/cable flies or pec dec.....

    I mix and match for the best of all exercises.
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  18. #18
    Registered User kikkimouse's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by justroberson View Post
    SO you have been on SS for 5 months, you're ~5'10 154lbs, and you can only bench ~100lbs. I think I know what your problem is.

    This may sound harsh, but you need to eat more and do the program correctly. Gain some strength and bodyweight, I guarantee the bench will "work your chest" once you're no longer using baby weights.
    But I have gained about 5kg of mass in less than one month, and that isn't enough? Also I'm skinny by my bone structure, 17 years old, and I guess I won't be lifting huge amounts of weight anytime soon, but I must start from somewhere. I'm just curious if I will ever improve my bench from 45 kilos.
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  19. #19
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    Pull your shoulders back, try to squeeze your shoulder blades together, stick your chest out (Like when you are trying to look taller). Push the weight up holding that form. If you are doing SS, you should read the book again and maybe check out some of the videos on Youtube. The other posts are right you should have progressed alot more on the weight you are lifting.
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  20. #20
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    Originally Posted by justroberson View Post
    SO you have been on SS for 5 months, you're ~5'10 154lbs, and you can only bench ~100lbs. I think I know what your problem is.

    This may sound harsh, but you need to eat more and do the program correctly. Gain some strength and bodyweight, I guarantee the bench will "work your chest" once you're no longer using baby weights.
    he's right, eat more food. eat so much you almost feel like throwing up at all times in the day. im ecto too and been working out from 20-30 (~10 years) and always complained of my bird cage. I always thought I ate enough food, I didnt. couple years ago I started tracking calories and my bench press started advancing. Seriously, eat more food. im 6'2" 185lbs (from about 160) and I CRAM (its unpleasant) about 2800 calories down my throat a day. ...btw they should be healthy calories. carbs=energy protein=muscle fuel fat=chemical fuel (test hgh etc).
    im going to say it again in case you didn't understand me, EAT MORE FOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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  21. #21
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    Make sure when you bring the barbell down, it is above your lower pecs and not towards the tops of your pecs. Top of pecs you will work basically all triceps and no chest by doing it that way.
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  22. #22
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    If it is your arms that are taking most of the bench pressing then there are two things that I would recommend that you do. Number one is focus on your mind muscle connection, everything is within the mind and if you are thinking about your arms when pressing then you are going to engage your arms more however if you are thinking about the chest then the brain will engage the chest muscles much more. Number two, this one is probably the better of my advice however I suggest doing some tricep work before you press as this will weaken the arms and therefore force the weight onto your chest therefore you should feel it more in your chest.
    Hope this helped. Good Luck
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  23. #23
    Registered User tonewood's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by cjscore View Post
    Pull your shoulders back, try to squeeze your shoulder blades together, stick your chest out (Like when you are trying to look taller). Push the weight up holding that form. If you are doing SS, you should read the book again and maybe check out some of the videos on Youtube. The other posts are right you should have progressed alot more on the weight you are lifting.
    ThiS!!! Wish I had this advice long ago. It isolates the chest movement. You really need to learn form.

    ALSO, if you have bad form you may be using your shoulders to help the weight up. YOu may need to actually lower the weight to do it correctly but it will pay off in the long run. check youtube for vids on correct form.
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    I've always like DB bench better. I get a better range of movement and it allows me to focus and squeeze at the top.
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    OP,

    Capture some video of yourself, upload it to YouTube, and post link on here so we can see exactly what you're doing.
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    Originally Posted by knicksfan20 View Post
    Make sure when you bring the barbell down, it is above your lower pecs and not towards the tops of your pecs. Top of pecs you will work basically all triceps and no chest by doing it that way.
    Ahh. This was my problem
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    Originally Posted by justroberson View Post
    SO you have been on SS for 5 months, you're ~5'10 154lbs, and you can only bench ~100lbs. I think I know what your problem is.

    This may sound harsh, but you need to eat more and do the program correctly. Gain some strength and bodyweight, I guarantee the bench will "work your chest" once you're no longer using baby weights.
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