The Arch for the Bench Press

Abdul-Rasheed

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I was bench pressing not straight up, there was an angle. I read that in Starting Strength book I think. I thought that was the most safe thing to do. I would try what Anna mentioned next time. Straight up and down.

What is a bench shirt? Never heard of that term before.

At the bottom position when the bar touches the chest, upper arm is about 45 degrees, but I was not tucking the elbow in.
 

Antti

More than 2500 posts
What is a bench shirt? Never heard of that term before..
In modern powerlifting there are different lifting divisions, "gear" and "raw", or as IPF puts it, "equipped" and "classic". The bench shirt, pretty much like the squat suit, is made of multiply fabric that resists the eccentric movement, and somewhat works as a spring. If we look at the IPF World Records, the top classic BP is 280kg, and the top raw BP is 410kg. The lifters are not the same, though, and sometimes people train for only the other division specifically. But if I remember right my countryman Fredrik Smulter, the first man to bench press over 400kg (and tested), recently retired after winning the IPF European classics with a 270kg BP. So around 50% increase from the shirt for the superheavyweights isn't unheard of and may be pretty common. The squat suit doesn't give as much of an advantage, but it is clearly noticeable.
 

kennycro@@aol.com

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I was bench pressing not straight up, there was an angle. I read that in Starting Strength book I think. I thought that was the most safe thing to do. I would try what Anna mentioned next time. Straight up and down.
The Bench Press Bar Trajectory

Dr Tom McLaughlin (PhD Exercise Biomechanics/former Powerlifter) clearly demonstrated that the most efficient Bench Press Bar Trajectory is in lowering the weight (Eccentric) and pushing the weight up (Concentric) when preformed at an angle.

Bench Pressing the weight Straight Up is less effective. It is also questionable if the Bar actually ascend up in a straight line.

McLaughlin's Lab Research

McLaughlin's research on the Bench Press Bar Trajectory was published years ago in the National Strength and Conditioning Research Journal and Powerlifting USA magazine.

McLaughlin's book, Bench Press More, Now. provides even greater details and in depth analysis on the optimal Bench Press Bar Trajectory.

There is a definitive angle that the bar needs to move in lowering the weight (Eccentric) and the angle the bar need to move when being pushed up (Concentric).

Fix Your Bar Path for a Bigger Bench • Stronger by Science

Dr Greg Nuckols' recent article provides McLaughlin's research finding on the optimal Bar Path in the Bench Press.

Pushing The Bar Straight Up

1) This is an inefficient method for the "Raw" Bench Presser; someone Benching in a T-Shirt.

2) It is unlikely a "Raw" Bench Presser is able drive the weight straight up. The body does not move in one plane. That is one of the complaints in regard to Bench Pressing on a Smith Machine. It is an unnatural movement.

Simmons/Westside Training is the individual who has promoted pushing the bar straight up in the Bench Press.

That might be right and you may be able to do it with a Bench Press Shirt on; since the Bench Press Shirt changes the Bar Trajectory.

However, there is no research on how Bench Press Shirts change the Bench Press Bar Trajectory.

However, there is definitive research on "Raw Bench Pressing Bar Trajectory".

The Take Home Message

1) The optimal Bench Press Bar Trajectory with the Eccentric and Concentric involves an arched movement; a groove so to speak.

When that bar is driven up in the right arch/groove, it feel like it on rails (somewhat I like Benching in a Smith Machine). The weight feel like it sliding up.

Pushing the Weight Straight Up in a "Raw Bench" most likely doesn't occur. Human movement is multidimensional; we don't move in a straight line.

Also, Pushing the Weight Straight Up is less efficient with the "Raw Bench Press".

Kenny Croxdale
 

MikeTheBear

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Oh..cool. I don't think I ever will too...:)
I'll just come right out and say it - they make you look like an idiot. There was a time when I was interested in trying powerlifting and I considered a bench shirt because my bench press sucks. I mean it sucks hard. It's weird because I am a relatively decent overhead presser, but not a bencher. But I guess I'm a purist. My philosophy is if you can't lift the weight without wearing a special suit or shirt then you can't lift the weight. Period.
 

Kettlebelephant

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
There was a time when I was interested in trying powerlifting and I considered a bench shirt because my bench press sucks.
I know what powerlifting is about, which lifts you use, that there are weight classes and all that stuff, but I don't know about the specifics.
Could you perform just the bench press geared and the squat & DL raw? Or do you have to decide on raw or geared beforehand and then use it for all three lifts?
I guess as someone who says his bench sucks you weren't thinking about competing just in the geared bench as a one lift specialist right? :)
That's why I'm asking.
 

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
Yeah I don't think I'll be looking to own one of those either...

Thanks Kenny for letting me know I was on the right path (pun very much intended).
Oh good one!

I do recall Doc Hartle discussing some exceptions, but I don't remember enough specifics to quote him. In any case, straight down and straight up can be an intention, if not always the result. My videos seem to be close to that so far (at my not-very-heavy weight) and if feels OK. So, perfecting the bar path is just something to continue working on along with the arch(es) and everything else as I do my bench press sessions. And of course since my current goal is to meet the SFL strength requirement and complete my certificate, my current standards are going to be in line with those.

Great discussion though. Always interesting and informative!
 

MikeTheBear

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
@Kettlebelephant This was some years ago so I honestly don't remember what type of meet I was considering. But there are hundreds of iterations. I think I may have been looking at a push-pull meet where the deadlift was belt only but the bench allowed a single-ply shirt (as opposed to multi-ply that uses 3 or so layers of heavy denim). My goal was to get through the bench part without being too embarrassed.

Today there seem to be more "raw" federations and more options for raw lifting.
 

MikeTheBear

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
In any case, straight down and straight up can be an intention, if not always the result.
That may be what is going on. Given what Kenny said about the human not moving in straight lines, it may be that telling a lifter to bench press by pushing the bar back over his or her face would cause the lifter to overdo the movement with the unhappy result that the bar will land on his or her face.

I sometimes think that certain coaching tips or cues that are given to athletes are meant to prevent the athlete from overdoing something that will come naturally. A good example is from Olympic lifting with the cue "don't pull with the arms." Well of course you pull with the arms. Otherwise the bar will not end up where it needs to be. So it's not a question of "if" but "when." Pull with the arms too early and you'll end up with something that looks like a cheat upright row - not very powerful. Smart coaches now refer to the "third pull." Pulling with the arms is the very last thing to do.
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
Could you perform just the bench press geared and the squat & DL raw? Or do you have to decide on raw or geared beforehand and then use it for all three lifts?
In powerlifting, the first thing you choose is your Division. In many federations, that choice is between Raw (also called Classic or similar), and Equipped (also called Geared or similar). There are also PL federations that make a distinction between Professional and Amateur, the former not having drug tests. (I am amazed that non-drug-tested divisions still exist, but they do.)

See, e.g, the USPA web site's list of records:

USPA & IPL Records

and note that there are separate listings for those meets that have been drug-tested and those that haven't.

And that choice follows you, so you cannot compete in Equipped for one lift and Raw for another, with the possible exception of a federation that allows you to register like that - more below.

You can also register for any single lift, or for 3-lift 'complete' PL, and there are other combinations in some circumstances, e.g., there is sometimes Push-Pull that's BP and DL without a SQ. You pay additional registration fees for addition ways of registering, e.g., if you want to compete with people doing DL only, but also do 3-lift, then you have to pay an additional fee for the second division.

Once you've got all that ironed out, you have your gender, your age group, and your weight class.

-S-
 

kennycro@@aol.com

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I'll just come right out and say it - they make you look like an idiot.
Yes, They Do

The Bench Shirt are don't have a complimentary look.

There was a time when I was interested in trying powerlifting and I considered a bench shirt because my bench press sucks. I mean it sucks hard.
The issue is that a low Raw Bench Press translates to a low Bench Shirt Bench press, relative those lifting in the Single Ply Division.

Thus, you need to increase your "Raw Bench Press".

No One Wins A Meet Laying On Their Back

The Total in the three lifts or two lifts in a Push-Pull is determines your placing.

Approximately, 25% of your Total is produced with your Bench Press.

Around 75% of your remaining Total is produced with your Squat and Deadlift.

It's much easier to add 30 to 40 pound or more to your Squat or Deadlift than to your Bench Press.

Increasing your Bench Press definitely will help but the two "Money Lift" in Powerlifing are the Squat and Bench Press.

My philosophy is if you can't lift the weight without wearing a special suit or shirt then you can't lift the weight.
I understand what you are saying. However, the irony is that other sports do much the same as "wearing a special suit or shirt"...

Pole Vaulters

The fiber glass pole sling shots people higher.

Sprinters In Track

Harder specially designed tracks allow sprinters to run faster.

Swimmers and Body Suits

Polyurethane Body Suits were once used in swimming. The made swimmers more buoyant; the floated higher in the water, producing less drag.

The Body Suits were eventually banned.

Football Players

Their helmets (essentially motorcycle helmets), shoulder pads, etc. have turned them into "Crash Dummies".

While Football Players gear protects them it also allows them hit their opponent with greater force. ESPN's Sports Science show found that the impact form some hard tackles were tantamount to being hit by a car doing 30 mph.

Ironically, the majority of players still suffer from CTE, due to concussions and head trauma.

I'm not saying Powerlifting "Gear" makes sense. I am just saying it not the only sport that uses or has used "Gear" that enhanced their performance or ability.

Kenny Croxdale
 

kennycro@@aol.com

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
...it may be that telling a lifter to bench press by pushing the bar back over his or her face would cause the lifter to overdo the movement with the unhappy result that the bar will land on his or her face.

Pushing The Weight Back

...in the Bench Press is a more natural bar path in the "Raw Bench Press" and optimal in moving more weight.

Pushing the bar back applies to the Shoulder Press, Push Press, and Jerk, as well for the same reason.

In the Snatch, the bar needs to be driven back, behind the head.

Pushing the bar too far back in the Shoulder Press, Push Press, Jerk or Snatch will produce...

Unhappy Results

Yes, the bar can be driven back to farther than it should be.

That is one of the reason for the special Powerlifing Combo Racks that have a Safety Tier for the Bench Press.

Pushing The Bar Straight Up

It doesn't work in the Shoulder Press, Push Press, Jerk or Snatch. The same principle applies to these lifts as the Bench Press.

Kenny Croxdale
 

MikeTheBear

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
@kennycro@@aol.com Always enjoy your posts. Let's take your example with the pole vault. In track and field there are two sports where a human must launch himself or herself over a bar set a certain height above the ground: the high jump and the pole vault. These are considered two different sports due to the fact that one event uses the aid of an implement that, over the years, has improved with technology, and the other event uses no implement. So even though the sports appear similar on the surface (i.e., humans launching over a bar), these are two separate sports. A pole vaulter does not say that he or she is an "equipped high jumper." And while I have never been around high jumpers and pole vaulters, I would be surprised if pole vaulters looked down on high jumpers because they can't reach the heights pole vaulters.

In powerlifting, I've read several debates on gear vs. raw. The intelligent lifters will actually say that geared and raw are actually different sports. Using the gear demands its own technique and skill that is different from a raw lifter. Although the two look similar - you bench, squat, and deadlift with the goal of lifting the most weight - the use of special suits in one sport makes it different from the raw divisions. Those who lift in gear don't necessarily look down on those who don't - it's a live and let live world.

But this is not always the case. There have been angry debates over gear vs. raw. Some geared lifters look down on raw lifters, or they think raw federations are bad for the sport. I actually read an interview with Louie Simmons where he was asked about raw federations and he replied that this was making the sport go backwards.

I myself am a live and let live guy, so why should this bother me? Because of the reasons I mentioned above. Louie Simmons is considered an authority on strength training because he has trained several very strong powerlifters. What people forget is that Louie trains geared lifters and what applies to the geared lifter does not necessarily apply to a raw lifter. The straight up bench bar path is an excellent of this. The box squat is another.

But it gets worse. Louie has put out a book on Olympic weightlifting using Westside methods. It was widely discredited by many Olympic lifting coaches. So why would Louie think that he could write a book on Olympic weighting and why would any person buy this book? Because of this logic: Both Olympic lifting and powerlifting involve lifting a barbell and requires strength. Louie has coached many lifters in lifting and barbell and they were strong. Therefore, Louie knows how to coach Olympic lifters. This is like saying pole vaulters should coach high jumpers.

So, have I gone too far away from the original post? Yes, but I can quickly come back. This is just my long-winded way of reiterating my point that if a person wants to lift without gear, be careful of training advice that comes from a geared powerlifter.
 

jca17

More than 300 posts
The thing is that we have Al Ciampa also vouching for the SFL style bench press with straight line intention, and he benched 585lb raw in competition. I just saw a video of Ed Coan saying that for raw benching he thinks the bar should come straight up off the chest and then only start slanting back halfway through or so, whereas those who call for going back usually say to come off the chest already going back towards the face. It sounds like both paths can be extremely strong. I'm also curious if Doc Hartle's competition preference and coaching with USAPL was mainly raw or equipped (although even equipped they only allow single-ply, right?)
 

kennycro@@aol.com

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Let's take your example with the pole vault. In track and field there are two sports where a human must launch himself or herself over a bar set a certain height above the ground: the high jump and the pole vault. These are considered two different sports due to the fact that one event uses the aid of an implement that, over the years, has improved with technology, and the other event uses no implement. So even though the sports appear similar on the surface (i.e., humans launching over a bar), these are two separate sports. A pole vaulter does not say that he or she is an "equipped high jumper."
Pole Vaulters Are "Equipped"

No matter how you twist it, Pole Vaulters are "Equipped" with a Fiber Glass Pole that elicits essentially the same effect as a Powerlifting Shirts and Suits.

The Fiber Glass Pole bends at the bottom, then spring back, assisting the Vaulter up off the ground, enable to move more weight up higher over the bar.

The Powerlflifting Shirt and Suits bend (stretch at the bottom of the lift), then spring back, assisting the lifter in getting the weight off the chest in the Bench Press or out of the hole in the Squat.

The Vaulter isn't wearing the Fiber Glass Pole. However, the effect is still the same.

The intelligent lifters will actually say that geared and raw are actually different sports. Using the gear demands its own technique and skill that is different from a raw lifter.
Different Sports

Raw and Geared are two different sports. The technique for one is different from the other.

That applies to Pole Vaulters who used the Fiber Glass Pole that bends compared to the Pole that was used decades ago that was stiff, had no spring or lift.

The technique of the Fiber Glass Pole Vaulter is complete different from the Pole that was used decades ago that was stiff and unyielding. They were two different sports.

Anytime you change something in any sport, technique changes. Something as simple as going from Squatting in a Flat Sole Shoe to an Olympic Shoe with an elevated heal changes a lifter technique.

High Bar Squatting is completely different from Low Bar Squatting, etc.

Another way of looking at it is the...

Ice Cream Analogy

Chocolate and Vanilla Ice Cream aren't the same. Both are ice cream but different.

Some geared lifters look down on raw lifters, or they think raw federations are bad for the sport. I actually read an interview with Louie Simmons where he was asked about raw federations and he replied that this was making the sport go backwards.
Childish

That is a childish, immature attitude.

Louie has put out a book on Olympic weightlifting using Westside methods. It was widely discredited by many Olympic lifting coaches. So why would Louie think that he could write a book on Olympic weighting and why would any person buy this book? Because of this logic: Both Olympic lifting and powerlifting involve lifting a barbell and requires strength. Louie has coached many lifters in lifting and barbell and they were strong. Therefore, Louie knows how to coach Olympic lifters. This is like saying pole vaulters should coach high jumpers.
Westside Olympic Lifting Program

I am familiar with Simmons' belief that he know how to train Olympic Lifters.

"This is like saying pole vaulters should coach high jumpers."

Excellent example!

Since I haven't read or seen Simmons book on the Westside Olympic Weightlifting training, I cannot really comment on it.

However, I believe that Simmons has ventured into an area that he doesn't belong.

With that said, one sport can learn from another in regard to training.

The Ironic Example

The foundation of Simmons' Westside Program is built on the methods utilized by Olympic Lifters.

1) Conjugate Training: Combining Limit Strength Training with Power "Speed" Training.

2) Cluster Sets: Geoff Chafe, an Olympic Lifter, addressed this in one of his post. I believe it he posted it on the "Assistance Lifts" Topic; smart guy, good information.

Another interesting fact is...

Original Westside Vs Simmons Westside Box Squat

The Original Westside Box Squatting Method developed by Gerge Frenn and Joe Demarco are not the same.

I met Joe Demarco through another lifter about 10 years ago, when I lived in California. I went to Demarco's gym. He demonstrated and had me perform the Original Box Squat Method.

The only thing the Original Westside and Simmons' Westside Box Squatting Method have in common it the Box.


The Original Westside and Simmons Westside Box Squatting Method each are effective training methods. Each provides a different training effect.

One of the biggest differences is...

The Original Westside Box Squat: Simply put, this method uses a rocking action that generates momentum prior to driving your butt off the box.

Simmons' Westside Box Squat: This method has you pause on the box, killing the Stretch Reflex, then driving up from a Dead Stop.

The technique of one is different from the other.

Why The Differnce?

Joe Demarco stated that Simmons never visited, saw or talked with anyone who trained the Original Westside Method. So, how would he know the technique of the Original Westside Box Squat and how they trained it?

Kenny Croxdale


 
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kennycro@@aol.com

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
The thing is that we have Al Ciampa also vouching for the SFL style bench press with straight line intention, and he benched 585lb raw in competition.
What You Think and What Is

It is doubtful that the bar actually travels in a straight line with any Raw Bencher.

What you think you see and what is are often completely different.

To know for sure, you need video the lift, then as Dr Tom McLaughlin did, essentially graph the movement out.

Research Data

McLaughlin's research data regarding the Bench Press Bar Path has been around for a couple of decades.

No documented research has been presented to refute it.

All we have are opinions (guesses). Guessing about anything is never good.

Bench Press Research

Dr Greg Nuckols' article that I posted provide McLaughlin's finding.

McLaughlin's research was based the technique employed by World Class Bench Pressers.

The Bench Press Bar Path was essentially found to be the same for all World Class Bench Pressers.

The article provide with excellent research data from a PhD in Biomechanics who was a Powerlifter.

McLaughlin's book, Bench Press More, Now, provides even greater in depth analysis.

Kenny Croxdale
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
FWIW, I'll off my two-cents worth on equipped versus raw powerlifting. I have heard geared lifters say, "If you want to lift the most weight, you use gear. And if you want to be strong, you want to lift the most weight. Therefore, if you want to be strongest, you use gear." And I don't argue with any of that.

If my priority was on lifting the most weight, I'd use gear, too. OTHO, I do things like ride a fixed-gear bicycle, which is _way_ not the most efficient way to go - a single gear, no coasting, slog up the hills, and spin like a sewing machine coming down them. You could make the same argument as regards running shoes - there are shoes that will help you run faster. And those body suits for swimming. And the list goes on and on. And you could argue against having a turbo-charger on your race car engine, too.

IMHO, cha·cun à son goût - do whatever you like. If you're picking up heavy things, I'm with you.

That'll be me sleeping outside tonight, naked, in the snow. :)

-S-
 
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