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12/29/2014 11:27:59 AM - Alec Kellish
Hey Mark, I messaged you on twitter a couple days ago and wanted to follow up.
Quick background: I am a 20 year old college lacrosse player standing at a towering 5'9.75 and weighing about 170lbs soaking wet.
Starting doing my own programming since september, lifts have all progressed nicely but I have a strange dilemma with my bench press.
My max regular bench press is 285, close grip is 285, and floor press 285. All tested within 3 weeks of each other. (Max Box squat 415, and Deadlift 455).
Really not sure why all three are so close to one another, my failing point for all is about 2-4" off my chest. Here are the videos as you requested. Videos at done using 225 following a max floor press where i pr'ed by 10lbs.
thank you very much

Ok, Alec. Sorry for the delay my man. What I will say is from my perspective, there are others on this Q&A that have been bench pressing for longer, with more weight, and have been training lifters specifically for the bench press. I have always said that I am not the best person to get someone from a 500 to a 600 pound bench press. But, as someone who has worked with hundreds of college lacrosse players, the bench press is just one aspect of your overall development and I may be able help with some basics adjustments.

Ok, here goes:
When you are lying down, the bar should be directly over your eyes. Now with this weight, the bar doesn't travel back toward your face and you don't have a spotter so it isn't as big of a deal. Just something to think about.

Shoulder Position
Make sure your shoulder blades are retracted and depressed (together and down) while lying on the bench. This will do 3 things.
1. provide a better surface area to push off the bench.
2. reduce and scapular winging and unwanted movement in the shoulders.
3. this will also reduce the distance the bar will need to travel

Foot Positioning
There are several trains of thoughts with foot positioning and the bench press. A lot will depend on bench height, leg length, etc.
I think you are in no man's land with your feet. And, watching your lack of stability, it is (or at least will at some point) affecting your bench press.

JL had helped my with my set up and it helped a lot. You either need to do one of two things.

A.) Tuck your feet up underneath you even more and dig your toes into the ground. Also, squeeze the pad of the bench in between your knees. Remember the force starts with your feet pushing through the floor and up through the shoulders into the bench.

B.) Get your feet flat on the floor and drive your heels into the ground. This is a way I have done in the past that can help reduce the tendency to lift the butt of the bench. Some lifters will more stable due to the entire foot being on the floor. The issues is some lifters have trouble keeping their arch with this position.

Its hard to tell from the video, but make sure you are getting all your air through your belly. It looks like you are taking a big breath from the 2nd video, but ensure you are getting your air in your belly and not your chest. Inhaling through your chest will be more difficult because you are holding the bar over it. Also, this could cause more instability. Make sure breathing is in this order.
1. Unrack
2. Inhale and hold
3. lift the weight
4. then exhale.

Grip Width
Ok, I can't see from the side view which would be more conclusive, but I can get an idea from the front. Your sticking point is really the same as anyone else. As Dave has said, if your sticking point is on your chest, then the weight is too heavy. But here is my thoughts on your grip:

Your regular bench grip to too narrow. Now I am not saying you need to get to a competition grip, but your is a little narrow. The second issue that is related to your grip is where the bar is touching your chest. Here's the checklist I use for athletes with their grip and bar placement on the chest.

When the bar is on your chest, your forearms should be straight up and down. If your hands are slightly behind your elbows, the stress is on your triceps and the bar path could follow your forearm angle back toward your face. hard to tell from the front, but if the bar was lower on your chest, the elbow would be under the bar.

This is just my position, but I think the best anatomical position for the bench press is to have the elbow directly under the 1st and 2nd fingers. I don't think you are way off here but widening a little may help recruit more force. Basically, the triceps are the most important, but sometimes not utilizing the other agonists can effect the lift. Narrowing the grip can arguably reduce the role of the lats in the movement.

So, these tip were ingrained in me since following Dave and Louie.

How you can bench 300 pounds
1. Do speed work start with 8 triples w/ 50-60% w/ 1 minute rest.

2. Train the triceps hard. My favorite is lying DB Extensions

3. Hit the upper back hard.

Hope this all helps, Alec. Let me know if you need anything else and keep up the great work.

Mark Watts

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