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  1. #1
    Registered User mileena202's Avatar
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    Need help with my bench press. Videos posted.

    Can anyone help with my bench press? It is very weak compared to my deadlift and squat.

    Here are six YouTube videos I took from various directions. You can really see the asymmetry in the overhead view, front view, and also the direct left vs. right views.

    1. My Overhead (Bird's Eye View) Pic and Video:

    Pic: I am actually lying flat, but my left shoulder is naturally up, so it appears I am twisted right:


    My Overhead (Bird's Eye View) Video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDGaQuboE0w


    2. My Direct Left Side View:
    Pic: No Back Arch and Right Arm Lower than Left:


    My Video from Direct Left Side:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXALBLML0Bs


    3. My irect Right Side View:
    Pic: No Back Arch and Left Arm Higher than Right:


    My Video from Direct Left Side:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-2KiCqAqN8


    4. My Front View Pic and Video:

    Pic: Notice the tilt of the bar on the way up, due to my left shoulder asymmetry:


    My Video from Front:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8j3RpZz-1U


    5. My Front/Left View Video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=614e0vxmLyY


    6. My Front/Right View Video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiiViqxboiA


    Four problems I see:

    A. Due to being left-handed and writing cursive with a hook style all my life, my left shoulder sticks out way in front of my right shoulder. This is why I naturally lie skewed to the right on the bench, since my left shoulder is partially raised to start. This causes problems with the bar tilting to my right and not being able to fully press on my left shoulder into the bench, as well as the bar changing directions on the way up and down. I am working on this, but after 50 years of writing this way, there is a weird asymmetry and it will be hard to correct. This is me pretend writing with my left hand and then mimicking a right-hander, and then a video:

    Me pretend writing left handed (This is normal for me. I am left handed). Notice my shoulder:


    Me trying to mimic a right hander. Notice me shoulder again:


    Video of Me Pretend Writing with Each Hand from Overhead:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yH4MpMqWY6Y


    This also causes a "chicken winging" on my left elbow, so when I press the bar up, my left forearm does not stay stacked in the direction of the upward/diagonal path of the bar. My left elbow and forearm is actually vertical on the way up and my elbow races ahead of the bar, whereas my right forearm stays stacked (mostly) in the path of the bar. So in both direct side view videos, you should not be able to see my farther arm, but you can since they are not symmetrical.

    B. My left triceps is substantially weaker than my right, perhaps due to the above. I am having extreme difficulty closing the gap, even though I got good advice on this forum about a year ago and followed it. My left pec and anterior deltoid are also weaker than my right, but by not as much.

    C. My mid-back is partially and permanently curved and does not extend or flex. So my upper shoulders do not lie fully flat on the bench; only my lower shoulders do. After a lifetime of this, I suspect it may not be possible to correct. Here is a pic:

    Permanently rounded mid back that does not flex or extend:


    D. There is no flexibility at all in my back. The erectors and lats do not flex or extend. It is like a bent tree limb. But the good news is it is a strong bent tree limb that will not bend further than it already is. But I cannot arch my back at all during the bench press to decrease ROM. See my video of me benching one rep with a foam roller under my erectors. Here is a pic and video:

    My back is floating in the air, lol:


    Video of Me Benching on a Foam Roller:
    [ur
    l]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Anb2iTP63U[/url]
    Last edited by mileena202; 06-27-2022 at 05:59 AM.
    Age 52, Female, USA
    Ht. 5'11.5" (182 cm)
    Wt. 178 lb. (80.74 kg, 12.71 st.)
    BMI: 24.48

    1-rep maxes:

    Deadlift: 342 lb. (155 kg)
    Squat: 280 lb. (127 kg)
    Bench: 135 lb. (61 kg)
    Total: 757 lb. (343 kg)
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  2. #2
    Registered User mileena202's Avatar
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    Also, if anyone knows how to bold or underline text here, and/or directly embed videos, please tell me!
    Age 52, Female, USA
    Ht. 5'11.5" (182 cm)
    Wt. 178 lb. (80.74 kg, 12.71 st.)
    BMI: 24.48

    1-rep maxes:

    Deadlift: 342 lb. (155 kg)
    Squat: 280 lb. (127 kg)
    Bench: 135 lb. (61 kg)
    Total: 757 lb. (343 kg)
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  3. #3
    Registered User jaxqen's Avatar
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    1. To bold, you add the text between [ b] and [ /b] - without spaces between [ and b

    2.
    https://youtu.be/cDGaQuboE0w

    To post a video, you add the cDGaQuboE0w part between these two, but without the spaces: [ youtube] [ /youtube]

    [ youtube] cDGaQuboE0w [ /youtube] - again, no spaces, this is just an example, I can't show it without spaces

    I like to learn from the mistakes of the people who take my advice.
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  4. #4
    Registered User air2fakie's Avatar
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    Seems largely like a bracing/breathing issue, which sounds like it’s resulting from the physical limitations you mention. Not sure what can be done at this point, but have you seen a physical therapist about some of the issues? And who writes in cursive their whole life? :P

    You look like you may be setting up a bit low on the bench btw. If it’s any consolation, if your squat and DL weren’t so high, your BP wouldn’t seem so low.
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  5. #5
    Registered User mileena202's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jaxqen View Post
    1. To bold, you add the text between [ b] and [ /b] - without spaces between [ and b

    2.
    https://youtu.be/cDGaQuboE0w

    To post a video, you add the cDGaQuboE0w part between these two, but without the spaces: [ youtube] [ /youtube]

    [ youtube] cDGaQuboE0w [ /youtube] - again, no spaces, this is just an example, I can't show it without spaces


    Awesome! Thank you @jaxqen. I have made all of the edits to make my post more readable. [I actually tried these last night, but I must have combined the video number incorrectly, so it didn't work]

    Originally Posted by air2fakie View Post
    Seems largely like a bracing/breathing issue, which sounds like it’s resulting from the physical limitations you mention. Not sure what can be done at this point, but have you seen a physical therapist about some of the issues? And who writes in cursive their whole life? :P

    You look like you may be setting up a bit low on the bench btw. If it’s any consolation, if your squat and DL weren’t so high, your BP wouldn’t seem so low.
    Your very sweet!

    Well, having grown up in the 70's and 80's, we hand wrote a lot. I guess I also print that way. For left-handers, it is easier to pull a pen than push it when writing. Same for righties, but since writing is left to right, we left-handers are left in an awkward position (no pun intended). China writes right to left AFAIK. Nowadays, it's all keyboards and touchscreens, but my body asymmetries were formed se young. I still write cursive on my occasional checks, btw.

    I will ask my doctor for a referral to therapy next time I see her. We'll see if it helps.

    For my setup, I try to have my eyes directly under the bar when unracking, which Mark Rippetoe of Starting Strength recommends. I will watch other videos more closely though and see how they do it.

    I am happy with my squat and deadlift numbers, but my bench press is still weak. Much smaller and less muscular girls are doing much more at my gym. It probably helps that their ROM is so little because they can arch their backs extremely.

    https://strengthlevel.com/strength-s...bench-press/lb gives my bench press at less than an intermediate level. For the amount of training I do and my upper body musculature, I think it should be higher. I get depressed about this a lot. Sometimes I sit on the bench after a session and sulk. It infuriates me so much that I dread bench press days.
    Age 52, Female, USA
    Ht. 5'11.5" (182 cm)
    Wt. 178 lb. (80.74 kg, 12.71 st.)
    BMI: 24.48

    1-rep maxes:

    Deadlift: 342 lb. (155 kg)
    Squat: 280 lb. (127 kg)
    Bench: 135 lb. (61 kg)
    Total: 757 lb. (343 kg)
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  6. #6
    Registered User air2fakie's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by mileena202 View Post
    Your very sweet!

    Well, having grown up in the 70's and 80's, we hand wrote a lot. I guess I also print that way. For left-handers, it is easier to pull a pen than push it when writing. Same for righties, but since writing is left to right, we left-handers are left in an awkward position (no pun intended). China writes right to left AFAIK. Nowadays, it's all keyboards and touchscreens, but my body asymmetries were formed se young. I still write cursive on my occasional checks, btw.

    I will ask my doctor for a referral to therapy next time I see her. We'll see if it helps.

    For my setup, I try to have my eyes directly under the bar when unracking, which Mark Rippetoe of Starting Strength recommends. I will watch other videos more closely though and see how they do it.

    I am happy with my squat and deadlift numbers, but my bench press is still weak. Much smaller and less muscular girls are doing much more at my gym. It probably helps that their ROM is so little because they can arch their backs extremely.

    https://strengthlevel.com/strength-s...bench-press/lb gives my bench press at less than an intermediate level. For the amount of training I do and my upper body musculature, I think it should be higher. I get depressed about this a lot. Sometimes I sit on the bench after a session and sulk. It infuriates me so much that I dread bench press days.
    Yeah hopefully a PT can help alleviate some of your issues although they sound long-standing. I can tell you’ve obsessively scrutinized your own form, so I’m guessing it comes down to lack of ability to properly brace.

    If you’re ever sulking, do dumbbell BP and throw them on the floor when you’re done with your set so they roll around. I see guys who do that sometimes with light dbs, and it seems to make them feel like supermen.
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  7. #7
    Registered User mileena202's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by air2fakie View Post
    Yeah hopefully a PT can help alleviate some of your issues although they sound long-standing. I can tell you’ve obsessively scrutinized your own form, so I’m guessing it comes down to lack of ability to properly brace.

    If you’re ever sulking, do dumbbell BP and throw them on the floor when you’re done with your set so they roll around. I see guys who do that sometimes with light dbs, and it seems to make them feel like supermen.
    LOL air2fakie! This comment made my day. :-) And I will research bracing more and see if I can do it better. It is definitely a weak point for me in all of the powerlifting exercises.
    Age 52, Female, USA
    Ht. 5'11.5" (182 cm)
    Wt. 178 lb. (80.74 kg, 12.71 st.)
    BMI: 24.48

    1-rep maxes:

    Deadlift: 342 lb. (155 kg)
    Squat: 280 lb. (127 kg)
    Bench: 135 lb. (61 kg)
    Total: 757 lb. (343 kg)
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  8. #8
    NASM-CPT xsquid99's Avatar
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    Your shoulder alignment issue could absolutely be the cause of losing power/drive during your bench press. With your left arm "writing hook" its possible that your left front delt and pec have basically tightened/shortened up resulting in a forward pull of the shoulder creating the alignment mismatch.

    I would probably start with lots of stretches to try to get that left side relaxed a bit. You can YouTube the following stretches for visual examples.

    Doorway stretch:
    This stretch targets the pec minor muscle, which connects your shoulder to the front of your rib cage. This muscle is responsible for forward shoulder rotation. If it becomes tight, your shoulder can be pulled forward out of proper alignment.

    How to perform the doorway stretch:

    -Stand at a doorway with your forearms on the doorframe and your elbows bent 90 degrees.
    -Keep your back straight and step forward with one leg, and lean into the doorway.
    -You should feel the stretch deep within your chest.
    -Since your left side is the issue you can focus mainly on your left side.

    Wall angel
    This exercise helps strengthen and stretch the shoulder and back muscles that assist with posture alignment while opening up the chest muscles.

    How to perform the wall angel:

    Stand with your back against the wall and your feet about 4 inches away from the wall.
    Bend your knees slightly and keep your glutes, spine, and head against the wall.
    Keeping your arms against the wall, bring them up to your side with your elbows bent at 90 degrees and fingertips facing upward.
    Keeping your arm against the wall and squeezing your shoulder blades together, reach up and straighten your elbows to create a “Y” shape with your arms.

    The last stretch is basically an "open dumbbell fly". With a light dumbbell (no more than 5lbs) in each hand, lay flat on the bench, start with the two dubbells touching each other straight out above you, and slowly lower them to your sides just like you're doing a chest fly. Let the weight of the dumbbell stretch out your pec and front delts. Hold the open position for a good 5 seconds, then come to the up position and then slowly lower them and repeat.

    I would recommend doing those stretches multiple times per day (3x a day), for a good 20-30 seconds at a time followed by 10-20 seconds rest. Do each stretch at least 3-4 times per session. It may take multiple weeks before you start noticing changes, so just be patient.

    Last thing is that you may even want to consider a posture correction strap to help pull that shoulder back into proper alignment. They work almost like braces for the teeth, but just for your shoulders instead. There are several brands/models available online, this is just one example: https://www.amazon.com/Latest-Model-...7VST9VYH&psc=1
    Last edited by xsquid99; 06-27-2022 at 05:28 PM.
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  9. #9
    Registered User mileena202's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by xsquid99 View Post
    Your shoulder alignment issue could absolutely be the cause of losing power/drive during your bench press. With your left arm "writing hook" its possible that your left front delt and pec have basically tightened/shortened up resulting in a forward pull of the shoulder creating the alignment mismatch.

    I would probably start with lots of stretches to try to get that left side relaxed a bit. You can YouTube the following stretches for visual examples.

    Doorway stretch:
    This stretch targets the pec minor muscle, which connects your shoulder to the front of your rib cage. This muscle is responsible for forward shoulder rotation. If it becomes tight, your shoulder can be pulled forward out of proper alignment.

    How to perform the doorway stretch:

    -Stand at a doorway with your forearms on the doorframe and your elbows bent 90 degrees.
    -Keep your back straight and step forward with one leg, and lean into the doorway.
    -You should feel the stretch deep within your chest.
    -Since your left side is the issue you can focus mainly on your left side.

    Wall angel
    This exercise helps strengthen and stretch the shoulder and back muscles that assist with posture alignment while opening up the chest muscles.

    How to perform the wall angel:

    Stand with your back against the wall and your feet about 4 inches away from the wall.
    Bend your knees slightly and keep your glutes, spine, and head against the wall.
    Keeping your arms against the wall, bring them up to your side with your elbows bent at 90 degrees and fingertips facing upward.
    Keeping your arm against the wall and squeezing your shoulder blades together, reach up and straighten your elbows to create a “Y” shape with your arms.

    The last stretch is basically an "open dumbbell fly". With a light dumbbell (no more than 5lbs) in each hand, lay flat on the bench, start with the two dubbells touching each other straight out above you, and slowly lower them to your sides just like you're doing a chest fly. Let the weight of the dumbbell stretch out your pec and front delts. Hold the open position for a good 5 seconds, then come to the up position and then slowly lower them and repeat.

    I would recommend doing those stretches multiple times per day (3x a day), for a good 20-30 seconds at a time followed by 10-20 seconds rest. Do each stretch at least 3-4 times per session. It may take multiple weeks before you start noticing changes, so just be patient.

    Last thing is that you may even want to consider a posture correction strap to help pull that shoulder back into proper alignment. They work almost like braces for the teeth, but just for your shoulders instead. There are several brands/models available online, this is just one example: https://www.amazon.com/Latest-Model-...7VST9VYH&psc=1
    xsquid99: this is a great post! Very thorough. Thank you! From a certified trainer no less. I had to take some time to read it and digest everything, then look up some examples on YouTube so I could see them. Your explanations helped too. I am sorry for not replying yesterday, but I was dead tired from deadlifts, and I knew it would take some time to digest your post, so I waited until this morning.

    I tried your first two stretches I love them! With the wall angel, my mid back is (permanently?) rounded:



    So I cannot put both shoulders and glutes against the wall. One or the other. If I put my shoulders against the wall, my right forearm does not completely glide against the wall (about 1/2" off). If I choose to put my glutes on the wall, neither forearm touches the wall (both are about 1/2" off). I guess I have to work on my shoulder flexibility. The back rounding: that is going to be hard to correct after a lifetime like this I suppose.

    Here are the sample videos I found on YouTube:

    Wall Angel:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_ooIhKYs7c


    Doorway Stretch:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dmm8_S23I74


    For the dumbell fly, do you know how low should I go? I guess as far as I can. Arnold Schwarzenegger says he used to go all the way to the ground on the pec fly, but he is Arnold, and I am not, lol. I am going to do these today at the gym. I will do everything before I bench today.
    Age 52, Female, USA
    Ht. 5'11.5" (182 cm)
    Wt. 178 lb. (80.74 kg, 12.71 st.)
    BMI: 24.48

    1-rep maxes:

    Deadlift: 342 lb. (155 kg)
    Squat: 280 lb. (127 kg)
    Bench: 135 lb. (61 kg)
    Total: 757 lb. (343 kg)
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  10. #10
    Registered User air2fakie's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by mileena202 View Post
    So I cannot put both shoulders and glutes against the wall. One or the other. If I put my shoulders against the wall, my right forearm does not completely glide against the wall (about 1/2" off). If I choose to put my glutes on the wall, neither forearm touches the wall (both are about 1/2" off). I guess I have to work on my shoulder flexibility.
    You may need to do unilateral exercises where the other arm uses a stick or cables to gradually force your shoulders into positions they won't get into on their own, whether you find them online or go see a PT.
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  11. #11
    NASM-CPT xsquid99's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by mileena202 View Post
    xsquid99: this is a great post! Very thorough. Thank you! From a certified trainer no less. I had to take some time to read it and digest everything, then look up some examples on YouTube so I could see them. Your explanations helped too. I am sorry for not replying yesterday, but I was dead tired from deadlifts, and I knew it would take some time to digest your post, so I waited until this morning.

    I tried your first two stretches I love them! With the wall angel, my mid back is (permanently?) rounded:
    If your shoulders are both pulled forward and you have a rounding of your upper back you very likely suffer from what is known as Upper Crossed Syndrome which is generally caused by overactive (tight) pectorals and upper traps, and weakened lower traps and rhomboids. It is a correctable posture issue, but it involves lots of stretches, self-myofascial release (usually foam rolling), and posture correction techniques (posture correct strap and physiotherapy/chiropractor and/or a really good trainer who understands how to correct this issue). Additionally, exercises that target the lower traps and rhomboids (like face pulls) will help to activate those weaker muscles. This issue is especially common in tall people. I'm over 6'4" and I myself suffered from this for a long time, and I've managed to greatly improve it using a lot of the stretches I've already talked about. It requires constant attention, not just stretching for 1 or 2 days and calling it quits, so stay consistent and work on it EVERY SINGLE DAY. It will take weeks/months to improve, but you can improve it.

    As much as I find Jeff Cavaliere irritating, he actually has a decent video on this:

    https://youtu.be/oLwTC-lAJws

    Originally Posted by mileena202 View Post
    For the dumbell fly, do you know how low should I go? I guess as far as I can. Arnold Schwarzenegger says he used to go all the way to the ground on the pec fly, but he is Arnold, and I am not, lol. I am going to do these today at the gym. I will do everything before I bench today.
    Just go until you start to feel tightness and hold it, don't overstretch and risk straining something. Eventually these muscles will start to stretch and you'll be able to go lower and lower. If you need to go a little heavier on a dumbbell like 7.5 or 10 pounds you can, but I generally recommend not until you start to progress a bit.

    Good luck, shoot me a DM if you need to!
    Last edited by xsquid99; 06-28-2022 at 02:40 PM.
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  12. #12
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    Originally Posted by air2fakie View Post
    You may need to do unilateral exercises where the other arm uses a stick or cables to gradually force your shoulders into positions they won't get into on their own, whether you find them online or go see a PT.
    Thanks air2fakie. Yep, I did the wall angel yesterday with just my left side, angled a little to my left, so both my glutes and shoulder touched the wall. I did it this way!

    Originally Posted by xsquid99 View Post
    If your shoulders are both pulled forward and you have a rounding of your upper back you very likely suffer from what is known as Upper Crossed Syndrome which is generally caused by overactive (tight) pectorals and upper traps, and weakened lower traps and rhomboids. It is a correctable posture issue, but it involves lots of stretches, self-myofascial release (usually foam rolling), and posture correction techniques (posture correct strap and physiotherapy/chiropractor and/or a really good trainer who understands how to correct this issue). Additionally, exercises that target the lower traps and rhomboids (like face pulls) will help to activate those weaker muscles. This issue is especially common in tall people. I'm over 6'4" and I myself suffered from this for a long time, and I've managed to greatly improve it using a lot of the stretches I've already talked about. It requires constant attention, not just stretching for 1 or 2 days and calling it quits, so stay consistent and work on it EVERY SINGLE DAY. It will take weeks/months to improve, but you can improve it.

    As much as I find Jeff Cavaliere irritating, he actually has a decent video on this:

    https://youtu.be/oLwTC-lAJws



    Just go until you start to feel tightness and hold it, don't overstretch and risk straining something. Eventually these muscles will start to stretch and you'll be able to go lower and lower. If you need to go a little heavier on a dumbbell like 7.5 or 10 pounds you can, but I generally recommend not until you start to progress a bit.

    Good luck, shoot me a DM if you need to!
    xssquid you are terrific! Thank you. I looked up "upper crossed syndrome", and it fits me to a tee. I am tall, like you. I am glad you knew about it and also happy you have overcome that.

    For other readers, here are some pics I found of the syndrome:





    This was caused by years of sitting hunched over a computer or in school at a desk when I was younger.

    And that Jeff Cavaliere video was golden. Lots of good info. I took screenshots and put them on my phone so I can look them up when I go to the gym. I am actually excited about fixing these. And I agree with you: you need to keep it up, daily.

    For the open dumbbell flys, I did them yesterday. I could go all the way to the ground, but only if I angled my arms a little toward by stomach. If I kept them straight out (perpendicular to my body), I couldn't go as far.

    I did the wall angel and doorframe stretches too, but I did them dynamically. I think I need to do them statically (holding the stretched position longer), but I was always taught do dynamic stretches to warmup, and static stretches at the end, since nothing is worse than holding a cold muscle in a stretched position. So maybe I can do both, depending on how warm I am, including at home. But I have to do the chest flys at the gym, obviously, since the benches and dumbbells are there.

    I am also going to order a posture corrector tonight, but I kind of don't want to wear it at the gym since it will show. Hopefully I won't have to wear it for life, haha. We'll see.

    Your clients are very lucky to have you. You know your stuff!
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    Originally Posted by mileena202 View Post
    xssquid you are terrific! Thank you. I looked up "upper crossed syndrome", and it fits me to a tee. I am tall, like you. I am glad you knew about it and also happy you have overcome that.

    This was caused by years of sitting hunched over a computer or in school at a desk when I was younger.
    Yep, thats exactly what causes it. Unfortunately desks and computer setups are usually not ergonomically aligned for us tall people, and it forces us to lean forward because the desk and/or monitor are too low. If you're still on a computer a lot I suggest you get something to raise your screen up to your eye level when you are seated in front of it.

    Definitely make sure you have your arms out perpendicular to your body as much as possible when doing the dumbbell fly stretches, that's what is going to target that pec and front delt better than moving those hands down closer to your waist.

    Don't give up, now that you have the issue identified just keep working at it. Don't be afraid to use all the tools in your tool bag (stretches, back exercises, strap, etc). The more ways you can attack it the better. If something doesn't work for you then try something else, there are some great resources online that can go more in depth than I did here for more solution ideas.

    Best of luck to you!
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    Don't be upset with the results you didn't get from the work you did not do.
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  14. #14
    Registered User mileena202's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by xsquid99 View Post
    Yep, thats exactly what causes it. Unfortunately desks and computer setups are usually not ergonomically aligned for us tall people, and it forces us to lean forward because the desk and/or monitor are too low. If you're still on a computer a lot I suggest you get something to raise your screen up to your eye level when you are seated in front of it.

    Definitely make sure you have your arms out perpendicular to your body as much as possible when doing the dumbbell fly stretches, that's what is going to target that pec and front delt better than moving those hands down closer to your waist.

    Don't give up, now that you have the issue identified just keep working at it. Don't be afraid to use all the tools in your tool bag (stretches, back exercises, strap, etc). The more ways you can attack it the better. If something doesn't work for you then try something else, there are some great resources online that can go more in depth than I did here for more solution ideas.

    Best of luck to you!
    Thanks for all of your help xsquid99! You have been very generous. (And I raised my computer monitor this morning, as well as moved it closer to the front. It is working pretty good so far!)
    Age 52, Female, USA
    Ht. 5'11.5" (182 cm)
    Wt. 178 lb. (80.74 kg, 12.71 st.)
    BMI: 24.48

    1-rep maxes:

    Deadlift: 342 lb. (155 kg)
    Squat: 280 lb. (127 kg)
    Bench: 135 lb. (61 kg)
    Total: 757 lb. (343 kg)
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