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Improper Bench press form for the last 8 years???

Discussion in 'Weight Training/Bulking' started by mike182112, Sep 12, 2012.

  1. mike182112

    mike182112 Member

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    Hello, I recently posted a lengthy post seeking help for my long suffering shoulder. Ive been working out since 15, I didint start lifting serious weight until around 17-18. I wont go back over all the details, just the fact that I had minor tears in my shoulders in the past, recent MRI scans revealed the tears had healed. I took a few months off the gym, lost 80% of my gains and strenght. very hard to stomach... I thought doing this, along with theraband rotator cuff exercises would heal the problem. Shoulder felt good during this time. just a few days ago I decided to get back in the gym with some light work. Back day went down pretty well... then came chest day, after benching light weight my shoulder felt just as bad as ever. intense pain. Its always chest day that brings this on, so I decided to check a little on the web about benching form. Since I was 15 Ive always benched with my arms like 90 degrees to body, like a field goal post. I recently read something about how you should tuck elbows.. then I saw youtube videos of people with elbows kindof bent and I tried that movement with just my arms at home and it feels MORE COMFORTABLE! I got pretty depressed, the fact that I may have been doing this wrong and possibly slowly hurting myself for years.. Loosing most of my hard earned muscle in the months off. What do you guys think of this? Should I take more time off to heal from the damage done today and come back with proper form, or will it heal naturaly if I just start on chest day next week. Has this happend to any of you before? sorry for my grammer, typing quickly.
     
  2. Andrew Ward

    Andrew Ward Member

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    Never having suffered a shoulder injury from bench pressing, I can't really advise you there, but if I were you, I'd take a break from it until you can determine the nature of your injury. Connective tissue injuries, if that's what it is, usually won't heal unless you stop stressing them completely. As for the position of your arms, I'm not sure I understand what you're describing when you say, "tuck elbows". Bench presses are designed to work the big pectoral muscles in your chest. If your arms are parallel at the top of the lift, like a pair of goal posts, it's your triceps that are doing most of the work, which isn't benefiting the pectoral muscles much at all. Typically bench presses are performed with the hands far enough apart so that the arms form a 'V' when fully extended.
     
  3. mike182112

    mike182112 Member

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    hey thanks for your reply, what I mean by my arm position is that if you were looking from above both arms would be forming 90 deg. angles from the start of the rep to completion. Where as on videos on pictures of proper form the elbows seem to come tword the body as they bring the bar to the chest. maybe a 45 deg angle. Also If it were a connective tissue injury would that kindof thing not show up on an mri? Im wondering what kind of damage ive done from years of heavy lifing with improper form, very painful but no tears or anything showing up on mri. Im just not sure how to go about fixing this.
     
  4. jessie

    jessie Well-Known Member

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    I will try and keep this simple and not get to technical, their are those on this board that can give you a far better technical explanation that i can. That said, flairing your elbows out at close to 90 degrees is more of what people tend to describe as more of a bodybuilder style and most people feel it puts more stress on the shoulders. I myself and probably many others flair my elbows out at more of a 45 degree angle. This is described as more of a powerlifter style. It takes some of the stress of the shoulders and allows the use of heavier weights. I personally feel that at 45 degrees the pectorals are still getting worked just fine jmhp. As far as your shoulder injuries that is something that I cannot comment on and is something that you should discuss with a Dr.
     
  5. petvan

    petvan Well-Known Member

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    I'd continue to seek medical advice on rehabbing your shoulder. But also ask yourself if you really need to bench press? If it hurts, maybe its not for you?
     
  6. Andrew Ward

    Andrew Ward Member

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    Good point. I had much better results doing supine flys with a pair of dumbbells: better range of motion, no resulting wrist pains or numb fingers, and by not bending your elbows, it does a much better job of targeting the pectoral muscles, rather than tiring out the weaker triceps.
     
  7. JoeSchmo

    JoeSchmo Well-Known Member

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    Tucked elbows is how powerlifters bench, and having a slight tuck to the elbows takes a great deal of strain off of the shoulder joint -- so it is always a good idea IMO.

    You might find this video useful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QnwAoesJvQ

    I had bench related injuries to my shoulders years ago -- and I discovered two reasons for this: First, I had a push/pull strength imbalance (too much benching, not enough rowing). This is a cause of many shoulder problems among gym rats -- essentially my bench press strength dwarfed my rowing strength (not good). Second reason was improper bench form.

    I basically "cured" my problem by benching with tucked elbows (improving form), but MOST importantly, I corrected my push/pull strength imbalance and started incorporating external rotator cuff exerices into my routine. Since doing this, my shoulders have been pain free.

    Of course, I don't know if this will work for you, as the cause of your shoulder problems may be different from mine.
     
  8. Paddy

    Paddy Well-Known Member

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  9. vanderlinden

    vanderlinden Member

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    What are your goals? Increased bench press or a broad chest?

    I do powerlifting style bench (elbows tucked) and it brought my bench up to 315lbs, but I have a pretty average sized chest (41" at 6 foot 1"). If you are looking for a broad bodybuilder chest, there are probably better exercises.
     
  10. HevyMetal

    HevyMetal Well-Known Member

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    Mike182112:- If the only kind of bench you ever did is the way you describe in form.......yes......you have been taxing the hell out of your shoulders for years. Tuck those elbows right in, and especially when you bench heavy.

    As Joe Schmo said also:- all bench and no rowing or rear delt work will create an imbalance. I like to finish off any bench session with a couple of sets of standing "facepulls".
     

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