Bench press/ unracking the bar question

Discussion in 'Strength & Conditioning Discussion' started by NinjaBlack, Aug 6, 2010.

  1. NinjaBlack

    NinjaBlack Blue Belt

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    My rack has maybe 1-2 inch high hooks to get over to unrack the bar. Am I risking shoulder injury by not having a spotter lift the bar into position for me? I almost have to lift the bar towards the top of my head, then back so it ends up somewhere over my nose/face whatever. It's always been kinda hard on my shoulders, but is this something I should really be concerned about or is it all in my head?

    I've been lifting like this for a while, but after lifting today (bench PR) my shoulders are bothering me. This could be from anything of course, but does anyone have any insight on this?
     
  2. Tosa

    Tosa Red Belt

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    My guess is when you unrack it, you lose shoulder retraction and back tightness. Is it possible for you to bench in a power rack (or possibly squat rack) instead, so you can adjust the hight?
     
  3. MatterOverMind

    MatterOverMind Pulling for you

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    For me, it was important to learn the sweet spot where it's not difficult to unrack the bar, but I'm not going to hit the j-hooks while pressing.

    FWIW, I've never had a handoff, and it's never bothered my shoulders, buy ymmv.
    Perhaps you need to strengthen your shoulders a bit.

    To me, a handoff would only be beneficial so I could better keep my scapulae retracted so I don't lose tightness.
     
  4. NinjaBlack

    NinjaBlack Blue Belt

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    My squat rack is adjustable but only by approx 4 inch intervals. It ends up locking in at a good spot, I was just wondering. I don't think losing tightness is much of a problem. Like I said it could very well all be in my head. Maybe it's just awkward to push the bar towards the top of my head and bring it to a decent starting position.

    It this isn't a common problem then for now I'll just assume that I'm fine and todays shoulder pain was probably caused by something else.
     
  5. FiveFeezy

    FiveFeezy Orange Belt

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    I have the same problem with my J-hooks, and I don't like how they make my shoulders feel either. In that Tate benching video that always comes up on here, he advocates using the smallest hooks possible.

    If you have access to an angle grinder you could cut them down a bit.
     
  6. cheez whiz

    cheez whiz Brown Belt

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    According to Eric Cressey, your guess is right. From his T-Nation article "7 habits of highly defective benchers":

    Earlier, I talked about the importance of a tight upper back so that you can create a stable base from which to press. The shoulder blades have to be retracted with the chest up.

    If, however, you try to lift off to yourself, you have to protract the shoulder blades to get the bar over the pins, and that's a sure-fire way to limit how much weight you can use, and put your shoulders in a more vulnerable position. Having someone there to hand off to you enables you to keep your shoulder blades in the right position.

    And, for those of you who lift at home who are going to complain that you don't have someone to help, it ensures that you aren't one of the few people who die each year from benching pressing. Use your head (not your neck).

    Oh, and for the record, you'll notice that I said "handoffs," and not "spots." "Spot" implies that you're going to need someone to pull the weight off you after you've gotten buried. "Handoff" implies that you just want someone to help you put the bar in the right place so that you can smoke it.
     
  7. DEVILsSON

    DEVILsSON Black Belt

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    Yes it's bad. Not a huge issue at lighter weights but as you've discovered it's sucks on your shoulders when done with any type of heavy weight relative to your strength.

    Possible solutions:
    - Use lighter weights( not the best of ideas but I would not be attempting anything remotely close to my maxes)
    - Get a different rack(or preferably a power rack+ bench)
    - Get a spotter (friend/family/your talking upright walking dog)
    - Perhaps find appropriate height saw horses to bench off, where you're essentially starting your bench at your chest (like a press)

    Hands offs make a big difference, especially if done by someone who knows what he's doing. Staying tight with proper shoulder position is huge if you want to bench big weights.

    Finally when your shoulders ache, please take that to mean "hey buddy you're doing something wrong, please lay off us"....at least that's what goes through my head when I fuck up my set up.
     
  8. NinjaBlack

    NinjaBlack Blue Belt

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    Well at this point I'm pretty much considering grinding the hooks to maybe a half inch, and I'll just focus on finding the perfect position as to not bother my shoulders and not sacrafice a good starting position. *And use a spotter when attempting heavier weights.

    Anyways, my question has been answered. Thanks guys.
     
  9. DevilMMA

    DevilMMA Orange Belt

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    No ifs buts or maybes my bench has gone up 55 lbs in 1 year through being able to keep my lower back arched, upper back tight..... all because I have someone hand off the bar each and every set and let me focus on position.
     
  10. FiveFeezy

    FiveFeezy Orange Belt

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    If you grind them down I suggest leaving them slightly above the centerline of the bar. You have to balance the safety of your shoulders with the safety of your face and neck.
     

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