Bench and Dip and Military Press

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JimZipCode
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Bench and Dip and Military Press

Post by JimZipCode » Sun May 20, 2018 5:42 pm

What is the relationship between these three lifts?


I should probably mention that I've been strength training for about a year-and-a-half, and I don't know how to bench. I first started benching with my elbows flared out, perpendicular to my body. That seemed to me the most likely way to engage my chest muscles. After doing some reading, I brought my elbows in tighter. Right now I'm about 3 weeks or so into a version of Pavel's 5x5x5 program, and Bench is one of the lifts, so I have pretty much settled on a groove where the elbows are somewhere in the neighborhood of 30-45 degrees from my body — that is, around a third or halfway to perpendicular.

Does that angle sound about right?

I'm trying to do other stuff consistently: engage lats, retract scaps to make a "platform", stay tight, feet on the floor. Sometimes when I struggle to complete a rep, the bar can wander from its path, veer a little "upward" toward my face before I complete pushing it away. That's only with a weight that's borderline too heavy, or the last rep of a set or something. I've been stuck at the same plateau for over a year; but (a) I also had trouble adhering to my lifting schedule over the Fall & Winter, and (b) I just hit a PR last week on this 5x5x5, so maybe I'm doing ok technique-wise.


I'm not sure I know how to MilPress either. When I first stared MP's, my idea of press technique came from kettlebell pressing. So again I tended to have my elbows wide. Did some more reading over the last couple months, and have shifted to a more elbows-forward technique, with some moving of the pelvis coordinated with passing the bar by my head. I feel like I'm targetting the front shoulder and front upper-arm area more consistently than I was before: this technique seems pretty solidly repeatable.

I've also started lowering the bar further on the negative (with lighter weight): like down past my collarbone, to get a longer ROM on the lift.

But in this lift too, my max hasn't budged in a year. I'll chalk most of that up to not being consistent enough in my training this past Fall/Winter. But it's discouraging, makes me question if I'm doing it right.


So here's the interesting thing, and what prompts my question. When I added Dips, and had my elbows more "in" on the Bench, and more forward on the MP, I noticed that those three exercises form one continuous motion. Start with your elbows pulled behind you, high like at shoulder level; then bring them down parallel with your torso, keep them moving forward thru extending forward, keep them moving in the same arc until they're straight up overhead. That's one motion. I'm not sure if there's any "functional" activity in real life that uses that entire range of motion at once. Maybe if you're bailing hay, and throwing it up into the loft, your back hand on the pitch fork would execute that motion? (Obviously I've never worked on a farm.) The three different lifts each hit one phase of the overall movement.



So there should be a relationship, right? Like, getting strong at Dips should help me at the bottom of the Bench; getting strong at MP should help me with the finish & lockout of the Bench. Right?

Or are the three lifts pretty much independent? (aside from the Triceps involvement in all three)
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terra
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Re: Bench and Dip and Military Press

Post by terra » Wed May 23, 2018 6:13 am

What is the relationship between these three lifts?
All pushing.
Does that angle sound about right? (30-45degree)
I go for 30 or less.
my idea of press technique came from kettlebell pressing. So again I tended to have my elbows wide.my idea of press technique came from kettlebell pressing. So again I tended to have my elbows wide.
IMO double kettlebell press is more of an arc. Palms start in rack position almost facing toward you, then finish facing forward at top of movement.

The key to safe, strong shoulder pressing is to initiate the movement with the serratus anterior, then 'feel' the supraspinatus muscle engage just before you fire the deltoids. If using a barbell, you'll almost be trying to bend the middle of the bar away from your face whilst firing the serratus anterior muscles (having already 'stitched yourself up', starting at the floor).

It's all about scap positioning and control (I'd say 'stability', but its a dynamic stability so 'control' is more apt). Your nervous system will allow your muscles to develop more force (...gain strength) if the feedback is saying it is safe to do so.

If you have heavy enough Kettlebells, use them for floor pressing, and (double) kettlebell shoulder press. Done in the manner described, both of these are great for developing scap control.
I've also started lowering the bar further on the negative (with lighter weight): like down past my collarbone, to get a longer ROM on the lift.
Don't worry about trying to increase ROM in the military press by lowering the bar past what is natural. Let the bar come down to anywhere between your chin the highest part of your collarbones, that's plenty low enough. Any lower and you'll probably be rotating your scaps forward, which is not a clever strategy for happy subacromial tissues.
That's one motion. I'm not sure if there's any "functional" activity in real life that uses that entire range of motion at once.
Punching?
So there should be a relationship, right?
Performed in a helpful manner the dips are great for scap control. Again, the serratus anterior muscle.
All of these movements can (should) also be also performed at a very short ROM, relying ONLY on controlled scap movement (i.e. don't bend your elbows). Also remember to include push-ups in this group of movements and do them with your feet elevated on a bench.

Good luck with it.
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SubClaw
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Re: Bench and Dip and Military Press

Post by SubClaw » Wed May 23, 2018 6:36 am

terra wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 6:13 am
Punching?
Not really. All kinds of striking power (upper or lower body) comes from the hips.

Just do this little experiment: position yourself in front of a heavy bag and hit it as hard as you can without using your legs to create forward momentum or twisting your hips to generate real power. The bag won't even move a little.

Then adopt a proper fighting stance and hit the bag **with your shoulder** (try to imagine you had your arm surgically removed below your delts), twisting your hips. I assure you the bag will move, bend or both.

Striking power is 95% legs, hips and lats. Delts, chest and triceps contribution is merely testimonial.

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Re: Bench and Dip and Military Press

Post by terra » Wed May 23, 2018 8:00 am

SubClaw wrote:
terra wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 6:13 am
Punching?
Not really.
Yeah, I know 'not really'.
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Re: Bench and Dip and Military Press

Post by syaigh » Wed May 23, 2018 10:55 am

When set up correctly for the bench, it is more about engaging the lats and upper back, very much like a reverse barbell row. In fact, when engaged correctly, ie, hips and legs are engaged, shoulder blades are retracted, pushing off upper back, it is more posterior chain than chest. Strong triceps (dips) definitely help develop a stronger bench, as does strengthening the upper back (rows of all kinds, face pulls, pull-ups, lat pulldowns, etc.). If you can do dips without hurting yourself, then do them. Same with military press. I have the type 3 acromium process and if I get too heavy with ohp with a bar, it pretty much starts to shred all my shoulder tendons. But, with dumbbells or kettlebells, its much better.

But back to what a good bench set-up should feel like:
When I teach people to set up on bench I start with some basic cues and then these evolve as they get better and they find ways to stay tight through the posterior chain. I first have them lie flat with the bar over their eyes. This is a passive position. What we want to do then is create an arc of tension from feet to shoulder blades so I have them grab the bar and pull themselves up to it (you don't actually go anywhere, you're just setting up your back) such that their chest comes up, their shoulder blades come back and under them. Then, once you feel that your back is resting on the bench on your shoulder blades, you make sure that there is tension through the rest of your body. You can do this by both squeezing the glutes and then finding a leg position that allows you to do that while keeping your feet flat on the floor. For some beginners, this often requires opening the hips, ie, open your legs up very much like in a squat. When you unrack the bar, you want your forearms perpendicular to the floor, this means that the bar will be over your shoulders. However, as you lower it, you also want to keep those forearms perpendicular so as you pull it down to your chest (this cue works very well for maintaining tightness as a lot of people relax at the bottom of the bench, as you pull the bar towards your chest, also imagine pushing your chest up towards the bar) the bar path will drift towards your belly somewhat. Again, the goal is to keep the forearms perpendicular. Your upper arm angle relative to your chest of 30-45 degrees is correct as that means you are using more of your back then shoulders. The bar will typically come down at, or below, your nipple line. Staying tight and engaged at the bottom is the biggest problem a lot of people have that I see as when they bring the bar down, their chest comes down as well and they lose tension in their back and glutes. Take a video of yourself and see what is going on. Your chest, legs, and hips should not move at all from your original set-up as you complete reps. If you are having trouble maintaining this tension, training with a pause at the bottom of the rep can help a lot. It will help to develop that static strength of staying tight for the duration of the set which tends to be the biggest reason I've seen people fail on weights, reps, or develop shoulder pain.

And for the record, the posterior chain supporting the movement is a big part of the strength developed from pushing movements and developing a big strong back definitely helps shot putters, batters, and punchers alike. Yes, the legs are involved, but when you have a strong shoulder girdle and upper back and a lot of meat to rotate with, you develop a lot more power. I used to make all my olympic lifters bench as a big back also means a bigger clean and definitely a bigger snatch. What does power look like on a person? A big back and a big butt. You see that, you know you are looking at a strong and poweful body. Also, don't just think about it as a movement, but simple postural strength as well. Improving back size and strength has helped virtually everyone I train regardless of sport or lack thereof. Its just one of those things that's hard to develop on its own in our lives of sitting and standing.
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Re: Bench and Dip and Military Press

Post by powerlifter54 » Wed May 23, 2018 12:45 pm

JimZipCode wrote:
Sun May 20, 2018 5:42 pm
What is the relationship between these three lifts?

...

I'm trying to do other stuff consistently: engage lats, retract scaps to make a "platform", stay tight, feet on the floor. Sometimes when I struggle to complete a rep, the bar can wander from its path, veer a little "upward" toward my face before I complete pushing it away.

...


So there should be a relationship, right? Like, getting strong at Dips should help me at the bottom of the Bench; getting strong at MP should help me with the finish & lockout of the Bench. Right?

Or are the three lifts pretty much independent? (aside from the Triceps involvement in all three)
It depends on you. Many folks love both did-s and Military Press to hel-mtheir bench. Others like incline db press or press behind neck.They never worked for me. Some extensions helped and I am a huge fan of pull-ups/Pulldown/rows/pulls out the face for upper back. But the main mover of my bench was board and phone book presses.

My biggest input is tight and solid setup matter, but the lateral arch from armpit to armpit gets the sternum up the most, and does not cramp the lower back like the shoulder to butt arch. The groove is about where the bar starts and finishes not a specific angle. I start with the bar over my upper chest and touch about at the sternum, but definitely below the nipple line. The real goal is to keep the forearms vertical as seen from th side, so the bar is going to move up toward your face a bit as you press up. Shirt Benching is a different animal and much of today’s bench lore comes from that area.

Sad news is you have to figure out what works for you. Best way and most rewarding way is to keep,doing what you are doing and note what works better than other things.

Best
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Re: Bench and Dip and Military Press

Post by Bram » Wed May 23, 2018 6:56 pm

For what it's worth, I have a high-end physical therapist at my gym, who works with a bunch of NFL and other pro athletes, and he says the dip is a horrible motion for the shoulder and ruins it over time.

I asked him and he said the primary reason, of many, to avoid the dip is that the long head of the biceps originates from the supraglenoid tubercle which attaches to the labrum. So over time you are yanking the labrum apart. He said an argument could be made for say 30 degrees range of motion or so, but no further than that.
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Re: Bench and Dip and Military Press

Post by JimZipCode » Wed May 23, 2018 9:39 pm

Thanks guys. Super helpful stuff.


I try to always do bench reps paused "Spotto" style: pause with the weight about touching my shirt, but NOT resting on my chest, if that makes sense. I try to count a fast 4 in that position, which is probly only about 2 seconds, before going back up. As the weights get heavier, my pause gets shorter and shorter: any weight that I struggle to get 4-5 "regular" reps with, I probably can't pause at all. But I emphasize no "bounce" off the chest, stay slow & controlled at the bottom.

The forearms-perpendicular cue is nice and specific, and makes a ton of sense to me. Thanks, I will try to focus on that.


Syaigh/PL54 — I try to have both butt-to-shoulder arch and armpit-to-armpit arch. Armpit to armpit seems to help me most with getting the scaps back, so that's what I've focused on. Do an initial scap retraction, then settle the butt and the feet, then worm the scaps a little further back as I make the chest "big". All that before grabbing the bar. I've never tried "rowing" the racked bar to help create tension in the back. Will give that a try. Thanks for the below-nipple-line cue, that makes sense.


Terra — I've never heard that "bend the bar away" cue for MP. Thanks, I will focus on that. Will have to look up diagrams of the muscles you reference. I'll end the negatives no lower than the top of the collarbone, thanks. I've enjoyed the feeling of "stretch" I've been getting on the extended negative, but I don't want to fuck myself up.

I get what you're saying about the "arc" of the kb press. From the rack to overhead, it's almost like an Arnold press. Back when I was doing kb presses, my elbow almost did a "J" hook: from the rack it initially went DOWN a little as the arm rotated to open the shoulder up. That sounds inefficient when I describe it, but the feeling was like rolling your arm/shoulder into a punch, very natural. I'm not sure the bell actually descended much if at all: the curve might have been more in my mind than in the world.

I don't get your "Don't bend your elbows" / short ROM / controlled scap comment. Are you talking about doing Dips with only a "shrugging"(?) motion, keeping the arms straight? Then there's no tricep element, right?


Bram — Thanks for the heads-up. At the moment I'm enjoying what they do for my shoulder mobility. My job involves stopping over a computer: that shoulders-rounding-forward nerd posture is an issue for me. "Waking up" and warming up and activating that front delt area feels good and helpful. But I'll pay attention to how my shoulders feel. Maybe I'll wind up peaking with Seated Dips at a reduced ROM.
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Re: Bench and Dip and Military Press

Post by terra » Thu May 24, 2018 4:18 am

JimZipCode wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 9:39 pm
Thanks guys. Super helpful stuff.

I don't get your "Don't bend your elbows" / short ROM / controlled scap comment. Are you talking about doing Dips with only a "shrugging"(?) motion, keeping the arms straight? Then there's no tricep element, right?
Yeah, don't bend your elbows, just do the scap "shrugging" in a controlled manner (whether you are shrugging up/down/protracting/retracting etc). IMO, if more peeps added a bit of this here-and-there into their training cycles, there would be less tweaked shoulders.
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Re: Bench and Dip and Military Press

Post by SubClaw » Thu May 24, 2018 5:18 am

terra wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 4:18 am
Yeah, don't bend your elbows, just do the scap "shrugging" in a controlled manner (whether you are shrugging up/down/protracting/retracting etc). IMO, if more peeps added a bit of this here-and-there into their training cycles, there would be less tweaked shoulders.
You can also use the "scap variation" with pull ups, push ups and inverted rows. I tend to include all of them during my warm-up sequence and my shoulders feel fantastic.

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Re: Bench and Dip and Military Press

Post by SubClaw » Thu May 24, 2018 5:24 am

syaigh wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 10:55 am
When set up correctly for the bench, it is more about engaging the lats and upper back, very much like a reverse barbell row.
This!

And another great advice I read somewhere about dips: retract your scapula and, instead of dropping your body between the parallel bars, row yourself down (which is exactly the same thing you were saying above).

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