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  • Question for DC vets (and possibly Dogg if he's online)

    What are your opinions on bench pressing in general? Now I know flat benching is pretty much frowned upon on here, especially for DC. What would you do if you were to train a beginner? Would you have him bench or do you guys think it would have to be replaced by a different exercise?
    If we look at all the famous beginner routines (SS, SL, Reg Park's, Bill Starr's, etc.) they all have benching as one of the main exercises. Should one only bench up to a certain point and forget about it afterward (let's say once someone can bench 1.5x their bodyweight for reps and then discard it for a chest press or weighted dips or whatever)?
    It's not something I've seen discussed here before, plenty of threads concerning benching for guys with a bit (or a lot) of experience, but nothing on benching for beginners. The reason I ask is because my little brother's gonna be ripe for lifting in about a year and I wanna take him to the gym with me, I started out with benching myself (powerlifter type benching though) but eventually swapped it for declines and HS chest presses because gains were better on both and no shoulder pains (had those even with a close grip and tuck/flare).

    Hopefully I won't get flamed to shit for asking a bench question...
    Disclaimer: I am not a DC trainee/expert/guru/coach, anything I say is purely my opinion based on experience and research I've read

  • #2
    130 views? Well at least people looked
    Disclaimer: I am not a DC trainee/expert/guru/coach, anything I say is purely my opinion based on experience and research I've read

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    • #3
      I say why even bother with flat press? There's plenty of other options available that will give you the same results with less injury risk.

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      • #4
        I'm not expert so I'm not gonna answer your question, but I also started out benching and pretty soon realized it wasn't a very good exercise, both for my shoulder health and chest activation(Long arms, front delt dominant) so I now use mostly incline movements for chest.

        I've never benched 2 plates, even for a single, but I can push 2 plates in the incline bench with solid form for reps and my chest is no longer a weak bodypart for me.

        In for answers from experts though.

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        • #5
          I'll just toss this out to get something started here:

          It's an option and depends on the person.

          Especially with a youngster, I'd want to focus on not letting him / her get into the mindset that is so common where the bench is considered your medal of honor in the gym. This, plus a youthful ego, can mean throwing form to the wind (regardless of whether the elbows are tucked, etc.) and lead to bouncing and all the quite entertaining variations on bench pressing that are available for viewing at many gyms around the country.

          Consider whether the person is interested in strength or building muscle, as well. This can lead them in dramatically different directions. (Compare a guy who's doing board presses, using chains, etc. and doing some kind of flat benching every week, with a BB'er who maybe benches every other week among another half dozen exercises for chest....)

          My thought would be to cover BOTH "styles" (which are pretty much different exercises, like the difference between and OLY squat and a low bar wide or sumo stance squat) and even consider a hybrid that feels the most natural for the person, given their goals (see above).

          In general, focus on:

          -Controlled decent and and even ensure a pause before an "explosive" ascent of the bar. (Naturally of PL'ing is in the future, you'll use a go command.)

          -FLEXIBILITY - plenty of pec, biceps stretching.

          -Don't neglect leg drive / stability, set up, spotting safety and all the other intricacies

          -Include a shoulder health / pre-hab program. Make it mandatory.

          -Stop either any kind of benching and re-evaluate if shoulder, pec, impingment, etc. problems evolve.

          -----------

          There's a starter. No black n' white for ya. Sorry.

          Carlito, you've got an interesting situation b/c you're talking about your brother, which may very likely have the same experience comparing flat BB benching with declines, HS, etc. Telling him about your preferences / experience may spare him as much of the difficulties if he starts having the same symptoms that you did.

          -S
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          • #6
            Originally posted by homonunculus View Post
            I'll just toss this out to get something started here:

            It's an option and depends on the person.

            Especially with a youngster, I'd want to focus on not letting him / her get into the mindset that is so common where the bench is considered your medal of honor in the gym. This, plus a youthful ego, can mean throwing form to the wind (regardless of whether the elbows are tucked, etc.) and lead to bouncing and all the quite entertaining variations on bench pressing that are available for viewing at many gyms around the country.
            That's a good point. I know many people that do the most stupid shit because they wanna be able to give a good answer when somebody asks how much they bench.

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            • #7
              Wow, thanks for the responses, fellas, especially homon's response. From what I've gathered, he wants to get bigger, mostly because he wants to look like me, so obviously mass gains are gonna become a priority. I think I'm gonna have him use a PL style bench until he can bench his BW, and then discuss what sort of discomfort (if any) he feels. I was gonna include extensive mobility work pre and post workout regardless, mostly because I've made too many mistakes in the past myself and I don't want him to suffer the same mistakes.
              Hell, I want him goblet squatting perfectly first before we move onto regular squats so he can get form down and work on his hamstring flexibility so he doesn't round his back. I didn't take mobility seriously at all until I hurt my L5/S1, and then it was too late, he's not suffering the same injuries...well not on my watch anyway.
              Disclaimer: I am not a DC trainee/expert/guru/coach, anything I say is purely my opinion based on experience and research I've read

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              • #8
                Hey Carlito. I will echo Scott's opinion and add alittle. You be er mentioned his age, it I will assume high school age.
                What I have started to do with alot of my high school age athletes is substituting the floor press for the bench press. The basic physiology of their leverages at that age can put their shoulders in a precarious position via force angle (narrow chest, long arms). This makes them a better risk/reward choice. Make sure there is a momentary pause on these or they can get ugly.
                2008 WABDL World Bench Press Champioships, 2nd place 275lb submaster division state record bench press
                2001 WABDL World Record Breaker Bench Press Championships 1st place 275lb class
                2000 USPF Regional Championships 1st place 275lb division
                1999 USPF NorthWest Reigional Championships 1st place, 275lb division
                1998 USAPL State Championships 1st place 275lb division
                1997 AAU State Championships 1st place 275lb division
                1997 USPF State Championships 1st place 275lb division
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by LearningDC View Post
                  Hey Carlito. I will echo Scott's opinion and add alittle. You be er mentioned his age, it I will assume high school age.
                  What I have started to do with alot of my high school age athletes is substituting the floor press for the bench press. The basic physiology of their leverages at that age can put their shoulders in a precarious position via force angle (narrow chest, long arms). This makes them a better risk/reward choice. Make sure there is a momentary pause on these or they can get ugly.
                  Yeah, I forgot to mention his age. He'll been turning 16 this year. Young, yes, but IMO a good age to start lifting. I would have if I had known more at the time.
                  A floor press sounds like a good alternative as well, though it won't work his chest as much but less injury risk.
                  Disclaimer: I am not a DC trainee/expert/guru/coach, anything I say is purely my opinion based on experience and research I've read

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Carlito Gambino View Post
                    Yeah, I forgot to mention his age. He'll been turning 16 this year. Young, yes, but IMO a good age to start lifting. I would have if I had known more at the time.
                    A floor press sounds like a good alternative as well, though it won't work his chest as much but less injury risk.

                    Believe it or not, my chest is always WAY more sore from floor presses than bench presses. Also, keep in mind, none of the barbell presses are really "chest" exercises. They are pressing movements that pretty much use the pressing muscles ie. front delsts triceps AND chest. Movements that converge will always be more of a "chest" exercise. That being said, anyone that wants to get bigger should be doing big movements, and barbell presses of any variety fall into that category.
                    Last edited by LearningDC; 04-15-2011, 05:24 PM.
                    2008 WABDL World Bench Press Champioships, 2nd place 275lb submaster division state record bench press
                    2001 WABDL World Record Breaker Bench Press Championships 1st place 275lb class
                    2000 USPF Regional Championships 1st place 275lb division
                    1999 USPF NorthWest Reigional Championships 1st place, 275lb division
                    1998 USAPL State Championships 1st place 275lb division
                    1997 AAU State Championships 1st place 275lb division
                    1997 USPF State Championships 1st place 275lb division
                    + more

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                    • #11
                      This is somewhat off topic but a pet peeve of mine...

                      For all the people who say they bench or have benched "powerlifting style" I would guestimate about 90% of them have no idea what that really means and are nowhere near what they assume is the right form. There is a reason the bench is such a technical lift and requires so much form work for even the most advanced powerlifters.

                      For that reason alone I think that unless you either have a a good team/coach to teach you or are training alone specifically for powerlifting there is zero need to take even the slightest risk by benching when there are tons of other exercises that are just as good if not better for bodybuilding.
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                      • #12
                        Totally agree with LDC and Adam.

                        IMO, flat benching will translate into increased strength in pressing and therefore carry over into athletics or something like powerlifting...but as far as hypertrophy goes, It's just not worth the risks when there are superior movements out there.

                        But, if you're looking simply to improve pressing strength to carry over into other movements, then it has it's place IMO.

                        All that being said, there have been some great chests built around flat benching....so, bottom line, it's not for everyone, but some people are gonna swear by it...just like anything in weight training.

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                        • #13
                          This has been really helpful guys, if there was a "thanks" button I'd probably thank everyone in this thread. I've pretty much made up my mind on the issue. I want to have him bench a bit, just to get proper form down if he ever wants to start benching for whatever reason and then I'll switch him over to a chest press (his gym doesn't have decline benches...though I could probably get one of the free adjustable benches under a smythe and use that instead), maybe keep a CG bench in as a tricep exercise a few months later.

                          Originally posted by Adam2433 View Post
                          This is somewhat off topic but a pet peeve of mine...

                          For all the people who say they bench or have benched "powerlifting style" I would guestimate about 90% of them have no idea what that really means and are nowhere near what they assume is the right form. There is a reason the bench is such a technical lift and requires so much form work for even the most advanced powerlifters.

                          For that reason alone I think that unless you either have a a good team/coach to teach you or are training alone specifically for powerlifting there is zero need to take even the slightest risk by benching when there are tons of other exercises that are just as good if not better for bodybuilding.
                          A very fair point, honestly I've never had a coach or anything but I've probably watched both Tate and Smitty Diesel's videos on the bench OVER and OVER. I won't say my technique was perfect when I still benched, but it was a lot better than anyone in my gym (flared elbows, wide ass grips, you know the deal) and as close as I could get to a PL style bench (obviously with less of an arch).
                          Disclaimer: I am not a DC trainee/expert/guru/coach, anything I say is purely my opinion based on experience and research I've read

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                          • #14
                            Hey, you've already gotten a lot of good answers but I just want to throw my two cents in the ring real quick. If I could go back in time and tell my younger self one bit of advice about BB it would be to use the decline barbell bench as my principle chest exercise.
                            My pec development has increased by leaps and bounds since using this exercise, and my shoulders don't hurt at all. Flat and incline bench make my rotator cuff unhappy with me.
                            Heavy squats fix everything.

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                            • #15
                              Definitely agree with you there. I get shoulder problems from incline as well (not slight incline though, alá Yates). Unfortunately his gym doesn't have a decline bench so I'll either have to jury rig one or use the adjustable benches they have near the DB racks and use the smythe.
                              Disclaimer: I am not a DC trainee/expert/guru/coach, anything I say is purely my opinion based on experience and research I've read

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