What’s up, I hope your training is going well.
I got a quick article for you to help with your bench pressing.
It is written by Jedd Johnson who does all kinds of crazy feats of strength, like bending nails and horseshoes. He shares 5 tips to make your bench press easier on your elbows.
5 Ways to Make the Bench Press More Elbow Friendly
The Bench Press is one of the best muscle building movements, triggering muscle growth all through the upper body. No wonder it is such a staple in so many lifters’ training programs.
But, if you’re not careful, the Bench Press can also trigger something else in your upper body – PAIN – especially in the elbows.
Here are the top 5 ways you can prevent pain in the Bench Press, while at the same time maximizing your muscle building gains
#1 – Warm-up the Elbow PRIOR to Benching
For most lifters, a “Warm-up” for the bench consists of a few lighter sets before getting into the work sets or going for a new personal best.
That is not even close to what you should be doing in order to properly warm up, especially if you are already dealing with annoying elbow pain from time to time or on a regular basis.
Here are 3 easy movements you can do in just a couple of minutes to get blood flowing into the elbow and lower arm area to prime them for activity and lubricate them for improved injury prevention:
Zottman Curls: Just a few light sets of this Dumbbell Curl variation will start bringing blood into the lower arms. Have the hands supinated on the way up, as normal, but then on the way down, turn the hands over into pronation to stimulate the muscles on the back of the forearm a bit more intensely. 1 set of 20 with light weight.
Dumbbell Rotations: Take a light dumbbell in each hand and off set the grip on the handle so the pinky finger and edge of the palm is against one head of the dumbbell. Hold the forearms parallel with the ground and rotation the forearms back and forth. 1 set of 10 each way
45-degree Reverse Curls: Begin with the dumbbells or barbell in the normal lowered position. Curl them up like a regular Reverse Curl, then elevate the upper arm about 45-degrees away from the body. Now, keep the upper arm at that angle for the rest of the set 1 set 15 reps
If you do these quick exercises before you do your specific Bench warm-up, your lower arms will be engaged for bigger Bench lifts.
#2 – Use Sleeves to Keep Heat In
After diligently making sure the elbow area is properly warmed up for serious Bench Pressing, the next thing to do is to ensure they stay warmed up.
If you are accustomed to wearing a tank top or going shirtless while you train, you might want to re-think that. Wearing sleeves of some sort can keep the area warmer and prevent pain.
If a long sleeve shirt is just plain out of the question, you might want to think about a sports elbow sleeve of some sort, especially if you are dealing with elbow pain right now. Keeping the area covered helps keep the circulation in your arm and can really make a big difference in how the elbows feel.
#3 – Form Check:
Now it is time to make sure you are performing the lift properly. If you train alone, it is easy to pick up bad habits without noticing them. So next time you are at a gym, ask somebody who is texting on their phone to check these two things about your Bench Press mechanics.
Arms In: For most lifters, having the upper arm slightly tucked in towards the body (versus flaring them outward) is the way to go to prevent pain in both the shoulder and the elbows. This angle allows for better structural support of the bar and better clearance for the soft tissues inside and near the joints.
Forearms Vertical: Another bad habit lifters can get into is to allow the forearms to drop backwards toward the shoulder when the bar is descending toward the lift. This puts more pressure on the connective tissues of the elbow and causes an energy leak in the kinetic chain. Again, have someone watch you or set up a video camera/smart phone to film a couple of your work sets to see exactly what is going on with your technique.
#4 – Squeeze the Bar
You may not realize how important it is to squeeze the bar with the hands when performing the Bench Press. By squeezing the bar, it causes a chain reaction of contractions from the hands, through the arms, and into the shoulders and torso. This is called radiant tension, and it causes the muscles to fire more powerfully, plus it makes the everything in the Bench Press more stable.
This means not only will each repetition feel stronger, but you’ll lift heavier weights, perform more and better quality reps, plus you’ll see better increases.
#5 – Stretch the Triceps
You should know the importance of stretching for maintaining flexibility and mobility. And most people who add stretching in after they Bench stretch the pecs and shoulders out well.
However, one muscle group they often forget is the Triceps. Since the triceps attach at the elbow, they influence the lower arm. So, if they get too tight, they can cause pain in the elbow joint and forearm as well.
A simple Overhead Triceps Stretch, is usually enough to tame these tight muscles and allow for better freedom of movement and prevent performance reducing pain. 2 Sets of 30 Seconds.
If you do these 5 things on a regular basis, you should be able to prevent most elbow pain from setting it, and you should be able to keep improving on the Bench and packing on more muscle.
BUT, if you’ve already got some kind of underlying elbow injury, like Tennis Elbow, Golfer’s Elbow, then you’ve got to get that fixed.
To fix your elbow pain and learn dozens of other secrets that will prevent it from coming back, check out Fixing Elbow Pain. This program has already helped hundreds of lifters get back to pain free workouts.
All the best in your training,
Rick Kaselj, MS
P.S. – If you are looking for a program to help you overcome your elbow pain, then check out Fixing Elbow Pain: