- Are you familiar with the death elbows of the bench press?
- Do you find yourself struggling to make gains with your barbell bench press?
- Are you experiencing neck and shoulder pain when you bench press?
- Has your bench press day become a dreaded activity because you’re experiencing a lack of progress?
For today’s article I want to talk about the barbell bench press and how you’re killing your gains with what I refer to as the death elbows. Death elbows involve you performing the barbell bench press with poor technique due to you flaring out your elbows during the press and causing you to bleed yourself of power during the movement. Read carefully because you might suffer from death elbows when performing the barbell bench press and I’m including some tried true remedies here that will help you to resolve this problem and immediately improve your strength for the lift!
Avoiding death elbows: Depress your shoulder girdle
Looking at the barbell bench press you want to make sure you’re doing a couple of things concerning your shoulders once you lift the bar off the rack and prepare to lower it to your chest for the press. The bar path is a crucial element in you making a more successful lift.
As you’re sitting here reading this I want you to try something for me. I want you shrug your shoulders as if you’re trying to elevate your shoulders to your ears. Go ahead and take a second to do it.
Ok now that you’ve done that I want you to now do the exact opposite of that and pull your shoulders down depressing your shoulder girdle. Go ahead and try it.
Ok the second action of depressing your shoulders is what I want you to do when you’re lying on the bench and getting ready to press the bar. Try your best not to shrug your shoulders as this will cause you to bleed power and displace the stress and load of the lift.
Avoiding death elbows: Bend the bar
Ok the next thing I want you to do is to visualize you’re holding the bar above your chest as if you’re getting ready to lower it and you’re properly depressing your shoulder girdle.
From here lower the bar down to the upper portion of your abdominal wall just slightly…and I mean just slightly below your chest.
Now as you start to press the bar back up I want you to try and bend the bar into a horseshoe pattern as if your trying to bend the bar in half with each end of the bar bending down towards your knees at the end of the bench.
By doing this you’ll notice a couple of things will happen…
First, you’ll notice that it will engage your lat muscles (big muscles of your back). Yes, I said your lat muscles. I know this may sound a bit odd for your lat muscles to be involved with the press, but these muscles are very involved. The activation of your lats will help you to establish bar control during the bench press.
The act of bending the bar will also help you to execute what is known as shoulder packing. You will feel your shoulders pull into their sockets and this movement combined with your depressed shoulder girdle will stabilize the hell out of your shoulder joint and instantly increase your bench pressing power.
Avoiding death elbows: The Takeaway
Once you apply this technique to your bench press you’ll be able to tell a difference instantly. I’ve had some students to increase their bench press by as much as 10 lbs. when making these minor adjustments. Proper technique will take you to the next level.
Are you suffering from death elbows and killing your bench pressing gains?
How many variations of pressing do you incorporate into your strength training at the moment?
Post up and share in the comments below.
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