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  1. #21
    Moderator OptikaNET's Avatar
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    No, in a barbell bench, the bar travels in a slight curve. The peak of the motion is closer to the face and the base of the motion is the middle of the chest.

    Kind Regards
    Dave

    Edited to add: Ironically that makes the motion of a benchpress machine better than a smith machine because most have the pivot point behind/above the head, which means the handles travel upwards, towards the face as well as away from the chest.

  2. #22
    I Am JEFIT Legend Deviation's Avatar
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    And that's a great use of a smith machine Bumble Z.

    Most people doing barbell bench presses take the motion too far below parallel trying to touch their chest. When the upper arms drop below parallel the stress increases on the shoulders. Grip width, physiology, and form all affect this. Like you said, it's not necessary to touch your chest. Not to say you should be doing half reps either though.

    So you're surgeon is right. But it's not the barbell bench press that's causing the shoulder injuries. It's the person doing it incorrectly.

    Quote Originally Posted by mrwright View Post
    Everyone keeps saying the motion of the smith machine etc is wierd and different to a barbell, just wondering why?!
    Surely with a barbell you go up and down, and you go up and down with a smith? apart from the twist to rack/unrack it it's the same isn't it?!
    Barbell bench press isn't straight up & down. How the bar travels depends on your grip width.
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  3. #23
    Member Bumble Z's Avatar
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    Mrwright, Not so much. With a traditional bench the bar starts on the rack positioned somewhere close to over your face. As you unrack the bar, you have to move the weight in a arcing motion from over your face to over your chest. This is necessitated by the need to clear the bar from the tabs that stick out on the rack. With a smith machine, the bar follows exactly the same path whether unracking the weight or performing the actual lift - straight up and down. The result is that you have the weight in the proper position throughout the lift.

    The real difference, and the thing that makes the traditional setup more difficult is the balance. With the smith machine, the linear guideways prevent the bar from becoming off balance. You can easily see the difference for yourself with this experiment. Set up a smith machine bench press with just a single 25 pound plate on each end, lay down on the bench and lift the weight off the hooks. Now take one hand off. You can easily continue to hold the bar up. Now try and repeat that process with a traditional bench press set up. Make sure you use a spotter because this will result in a guaranteed fail....
    Last edited by Bumble Z; 03-18-2012 at 10:32 PM.

  4. #24
    Member Bumble Z's Avatar
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    Deviation, I agree entirely with the caveat that using the smith machine and setting up correctly GUARANTEES you will perform the lift correctly, with a traditional bench their is always risk especially as the weight increases.

  5. #25
    Member Bumble Z's Avatar
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    Something Else To Consider

    So this morning was chest day and I hit a new record for myself of 450. When I was done a guy came over and started chatting me up and related a story about a friend of his who was into power lifting. It's common for power lifters who are training for bench press to use a wooden board to make a spacer on their chest to keep from going too low. His friend was doing a 575 lift with a single spotter and failed. The bar landed on the board and broke his sternum and two ribs. If he had been using a smith machine with the stops set correctly, he wouldn't have gotten hurt - just embarrassed.

    There was a USC football player in the news last year who failed on a bench press lift during training and had the bar land on his neck. He was lucky to live and likely won't be playing football any longer. The more I think about this the more my surgeon's advice about setting aside the macho preconceptions about traditional bench press ring true.

    Stay safe everyone....

  6. #26
    Member Bumble Z's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OptikaNET View Post
    Ironically that makes the motion of a benchpress machine better than a smith machine because most have the pivot point behind/above the head, which means the handles travel upwards, towards the face as well as away from the chest.
    Not sure how that makes the motion better, unless your aim is to put additional strain on your shoulder muscles. One thing is for sure, you need to be comfortable with whatever motion you are using so if this is more comfortable for you.....

  7. #27
    Moderator OptikaNET's Avatar
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    I think I made it plain that I'm not a fan of benchpress machines!!!

    What I meant was that the pivot point behind the head makes the motion of the machine bar closer to the path that would be taken during a barbell bench press. When I say "closer", I don't mean "the same as", and I'm not advocating them as an equivalent. Just that raising the bar in a curve is more natural than the rigid up and down movement of a smith machine.

    I still don't like benchpress machines.

    Kind Regards
    Dave

  8. #28
    Member Bumble Z's Avatar
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    Got it. I guess I was confused by your use of the word "better". Agreed, bench press machines would not be my choice either.

  9. #29
    Member Bumble Z's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deviation View Post

    Most people doing barbell bench presses take the motion too far below parallel trying to touch their chest. When the upper arms drop below parallel the stress increases on the shoulders. Grip width, physiology, and form all affect this. Like you said, it's not necessary to touch your chest. Not to say you should be doing half reps either though.
    Unfortunately, the bench press power lifting competitions still require the bar to touch the chest for at least 2 seconds, perpetuating the myth that you need to touch your chest.

  10. #30
    I Am JEFIT Legend Deviation's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bumble Z View Post
    Unfortunately, the bench press power lifting competitions still require the bar to touch the chest for at least 2 seconds, perpetuating the myth that you need to touch your chest.
    Yes, but you have to look at their body position too. They aren't laying flat on the bench. They have an arc from their butt to their lats. That position pushes your chest up and reduced your travel so your arms don't really drop below parallel much if any. It also helps with leg drive.

    The video above isn't powerlifting specific, but he shows the same type of body posture used. Plus he's also got a bunch of other videos worth watching.
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