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    Default DB or BB bench press

    So I've been reading a lot of articles on muscle and strength that are saying barbell bench press isn't very effective for stimulating the chest. They were saying that a dumbell bench is much more effective than a barbell and that BB bench mainly works the shoulders and not the chest. I had always thought bench press was great for chest so I don't know. Any thoughts?

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    Both pressing variations will be stimulating your chest quite well - however, if your form were to slip on either variation you could likely find the emphasis placed on your shoulders and triceps too much - rather than the target muscle group the chest.

    There are some advantages to using dumbbells though. For example, you will have each arm working individually (unlike with a barbell) which will be great for ensuring that no weak points in either arm for pressing strength are to likely develop (as each arm will have a dumbbell of equal weight - where as with a barbell your stronger/dominant arm can quite easily take over the brunt of the load and thus cheat in the movement).

    I personally do prefer dumbbell bench presses as opposed to barbells. Why? Because I find that I am better able to control each dumbbell individually and make each arm work just as hard as the other - while also being a bit easier on my shoulder joints (rather than a barbell).

    At the end of the day - as long as you are getting in pressing movement you should be fine.
    Barbell bench presses are a great exercise for adding mass and strength, same with the dumbbells.

    I wouldn't exactly say that one is clearly better than the other, as it will largely be personal preference more than anything.

    If you are performing either exercise correctly, you will be hitting your chest primarily - also worth noting here that your shoulders and triceps always will be stimulated to a degree as secondary muscles in a bench pressing exercise, as these muscle groups are assisting.

    When performed correctly (not locking out elbows and also controlling the movement) both exercises are very effective.

    Hope that helps.
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    VERY nice pointing out to NOT lock out! Really need to make a sticky note thread about not locking out the joints when performing a exercise.
    So you say you dont listin to the "big guy at the gym anymore" Instead you read articles and studys and go of what some science study on the internet says. Hows that working for ya? Big guy still big you still small...
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    Thanks thats good information, also, the bulking routine I'm using has me doing flat bench BB bench press and then dumbell decline and incline. Would it be okay to change it up and occasionally do DB for flat bench and BB fo incline?

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    Quote Originally Posted by NickDili View Post
    Thanks thats good information, also, the bulking routine I'm using has me doing flat bench BB bench press and then dumbell decline and incline. Would it be okay to change it up and occasionally do DB for flat bench and BB fo incline?
    While it's fine alternating, I will recommend though to follow your program as it is written.
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    I like to incorporate both exercises into my chest workout. I tend to start with low reps and high weight on the Flat BB, and then move onto DB with less weight and high reps. Seems to be working well for me so far.

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    I have to diagree with the point that not locking out is the proper way to press. Locking out is proper form. Why wouldn't you want to lock out?

    I recently brought this up with my Powerlifting Crew, as the topic came up in a members journal here. They all agreed that locking out is proper form. I asked them why so many bodybuilders say to not lock out. He said it's a myth really, and that many lifters are taught to not lock out from the start, thus the joints are not trained to handle the load and they experience pain or discomfort if they ever happen to lockout. Brian, the crew leader, then said that full ROM includes locking out, and that it is actually beneficial to the joints to train them in a full ROM. Locking out is also a requirement at a powerlifting meet.

    Brian's credentials are many, including a CPT for over 25 years, 25 years of powerlifting and head of the IPA Federation, and he is a certified judge.

    I have also read here that Steve supports locking out as well.

    I also asked the biggest benchers on the crew, who are benching 500+ lbs, and they said they have never experienced any joint pain from locking out. I have also been locking out all my life, and I also do not have any problems.
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    Yoke is the new Biceps BigJosh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squatter View Post
    I have to diagree with the point that not locking out is the proper way to press. Locking out is proper form. Why wouldn't you want to lock out?

    I recently brought this up with my Powerlifting Crew, as the topic came up in a members journal here. They all agreed that locking out is proper form. I asked them why so many bodybuilders say to not lock out. He said it's a myth really, and that many lifters are taught to not lock out from the start, thus the joints are not trained to handle the load and they experience pain or discomfort if they ever happen to lockout. Brian, the crew leader, then said that full ROM includes locking out, and that it is actually beneficial to the joints to train them in a full ROM. Locking out is also a requirement at a powerlifting meet.

    Brian's credentials are many, including a CPT for over 25 years, 25 years of powerlifting and head of the IPA Federation, and he is a certified judge.

    I have also read here that Steve supports locking out as well.

    I also asked the biggest benchers on the crew, who are benching 500+ lbs, and they said they have never experienced any joint pain from locking out. I have also been locking out all my life, and I also do not have any problems.
    Well said. Rep +.
    In addition to your great explanation, IMO not locking out on the bench press is like not breaking parallel on the squat in the sense that it allows lifters to claim bigger numbers then they are actually hitting.
    Last edited by BigJosh; 10-31-2012 at 12:18 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigJosh View Post
    Well said. Rep +.
    In addition to your great explanation, IMO not locking out on the bench press is like not breaking parallel on the squat in the sense that it allows lifters to claim bigger numbers then they are actually hitting.
    I disagree, not locking out in the bench is like not put your straight legs-knee during a squat, you stand up yes but just to a semiflexion not straight legs.

    is locking out bad? not, do i think joints will colappse? also no
    is not locking out good? yes, you keep the tension in your pecs and for those who want to train pecs while they bench is the best.
    I do not count reps, I make every rep count !!

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    To add to the discussion,I train primarily with a barbell because,like Squatter,I will compete in powerlifting. There is no reason to not use both barbell and dumbells,but don't worry about alternating the movements like crazy,just switch it up when a movement gets old.

    As far as locking/not locking and building the chest,out of all my benching i do 1 set a week of not locking out with higher reps to focus on building the pecs. But I wouldn't make it a habit of not locking out,95% of the time do lock out the movement completely.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigJosh View Post
    Well said. Rep +.
    In addition to your great explanation, IMO not locking out on the bench press is like not breaking parallel on the squat in the sense that it allows lifters to claim bigger numbers then they are actually hitting.
    No way, its harder to move the weight when you don't lock out.
    NOt locking out constant tension training is simple it keeps the stress of the weight on the muscle. Locking out takes the stress off the muscle. It's a bodybuilding technique, of course not recommend for powerlifters
    So you say you dont listin to the "big guy at the gym anymore" Instead you read articles and studys and go of what some science study on the internet says. Hows that working for ya? Big guy still big you still small...
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    Yoke is the new Biceps BigJosh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LiftinHeavy View Post
    No way, its harder to move the weight when you don't lock out.
    NOt locking out constant tension training is simple it keeps the stress of the weight on the muscle. Locking out takes the stress off the muscle. It's a bodybuilding technique, of course not recommend for powerlifters
    IMO people tend to shorten the ROM when they don't lock out, making the lift easier. That's just my take.
    Doing 1/4 or 1/2 reps "keeps the sress of the weight on the muscle" but they aren't "harder to move" than full ROM. This is an extreme example, but my point is, just because a muscle is under contstant tension doesn't mean it is more effective than or "harder" than full ROM.
    Just how I see it.
    Last edited by BigJosh; 10-31-2012 at 04:26 PM.
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    Squattatron Squatter's Avatar
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    IMO, proper form is proper form. period. Not doing full ROM for the reason of "feeling it more in my pecs" is not a valid reason to not go full ROM.

    Everyone can make their own decisions on how to lift of course. If someone feels they are getting more out of the exercise by not locking out, all the power to them. It doesn't mean tho that they are doing the exercise properly.
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    Quote Originally Posted by squatter View Post
    imo, proper form is proper form. Period. Not doing full rom for the reason of "feeling it more in my pecs" is not a valid reason to not go full rom.

    Everyone can make their own decisions on how to lift of course. If someone feels they are getting more out of the exercise by not locking out, all the power to them. It doesn't mean tho that they are doing the exercise properly.
    not because it is not owerlifting form is wrong. Many bodybuilders will teach you to stop just 1 sec before lockin out while doing bench press, opossite as doing dips.

    Is doing a big arc to reduce the distance that the bar has to travel wrong too? Because the porpuse of that is also reduce the rom. One thing is to have your back tight and other thing is reduce SIGNIFICANTLY the rom of one exercise. (with that technique and many others that pf uses)
    Last edited by Gabro; 10-31-2012 at 06:26 PM.
    I do not count reps, I make every rep count !!

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    i think locking out is FINE when training for strength more than i do when trying to train for hyoertrophy. Lockign out on a strength exercise isnt goint to hurt ANYTHING in my opinion..... but training for hypertrohpy.. you may see slight benefit to keeping the tension on the muscle and not locking out... but i dont think that the benefits would be anything substancial.
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    Doing a half rep and not locking out are two different things. WHen not locking out you should come up with the weight and right before you lock your knee or elbow come down and start another rep. It should only be a difference of a inch or few inch's Is all.

    When I was sayin its harder Imo is because there is no break, example- your benching, you push the weight up barley then lock out, now you take a few breaths drop the weight down and go for one more rep. WE've all done it!
    NOw if you wouldn't have locked out, just went down for the next rep It would be much harder to complete that rep if you do at all. IF you can visualize my example lol.

    I locked out all my life growing up. I've trained with out locking out now for many years and its def been all around better for me and anyone I've helped train.

    IF you do lock out always, you should try constant tension training like we've talked about. It's enjoyable, feels great on the muscle, another way to try and do things. Another way to skin the old muscle bound cat...
    So you say you dont listin to the "big guy at the gym anymore" Instead you read articles and studys and go of what some science study on the internet says. Hows that working for ya? Big guy still big you still small...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrutiny View Post
    There are some advantages to using dumbbells though. For example, you will have each arm working individually (unlike with a barbell) which will be great for ensuring that no weak points in either arm for pressing strength are to likely develop (as each arm will have a dumbbell of equal weight - where as with a barbell your stronger/dominant arm can quite easily take over the brunt of the load and thus cheat in the movement).
    I just have to comment on this! I agree, absolutely. I use db myself right now to even out some asymmetry in my pecs. BUT, just because each arm handles the same weight and can't influence each other, does not mean that one arm can get less of a workout than the other. If one arm always lifts the weight closer to the body than the other (in db bench press), that side will get an easier lift.

    Make sure to always keep the dumbbells at the same distance from the body (joint).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabro View Post
    not because it is not owerlifting form is wrong. Many bodybuilders will teach you to stop just 1 sec before lockin out while doing bench press, opossite as doing dips.

    Is doing a big arc to reduce the distance that the bar has to travel wrong too? Because the porpuse of that is also reduce the rom. One thing is to have your back tight and other thing is reduce SIGNIFICANTLY the rom of one exercise. (with that technique and many others that pf uses)
    Ok now im getting off topic: Everyone has a natural arc when they bench,it depends on the person how big that arc is.

    The way i was taught was that benching with an arc coming back towards your face allows a stronger lockout because the weight is over your shoulders,everythings lined up,shoulders-elbows-wrists.

    There are two different camps when it comes to the safety of the using a "big" arc.Some will argue against arcing backward is hard on the shoulders and can lead to injury.Mike Miller does a ton of assistance work on the shoulders because this is how he benches,Louie Simmons trains his benchers to bench straight up and down.Figure out whats best for you.


    Now i have a confession to make.After i typed all that out,i looked around and realized Gabro is reffering to "ARCH"-ing the back,which is done to stay tight and redcue ROM,thus moving more weight.However you spelled it without the "H" ,so i thought you were reffering to arcing the bar during the press portion of the lift.I am so off topic...
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    Here's what I have to say...

    Locking out shouldn't harm your joints if it's in a controlled state. On lockout, your muscle is fully contracted, and with proper form and technique the weight is properly displaced throughout your muscle, joints and overall body.

    Take for example a bicep curl (biomechanics of the elbow is easier to understand than the shoulder). When you curl the barbell up, you will eventually hit a point where you feel no tension on the bicep, because you reduced the angle of your arms. Same thing happens when you lockout on benchpress, except this time its the shoulder and not the elbow.

    Now where most people get confused on joint pain from locking out is a little thing called hyper-extending the joint. Hyper-extending, extending your joints past where they should stop extending.

    So for a benchpress, if you were to lockout with bad form and great explosiveness, all that kinectic energy would go in extending your elbow past to where it should of stop and thats where joint pain comes from when locking out.

    Although to keep this post relevant for the OP, I do a mix of both DB and BB, with a slight bend in my elbow to keep tension on my chest
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    Dumbbells will always be the best chest activator in my opinion. You can fine tune the angle during the actual lift to really get the contraction you need. The barbell forces you into a position where you can't really adjust until the next set. Your hands have to be just right, your elbows have to be angled just right etc. etc. Under the bar your lift will be different from mine and so on and so on because I have to find what works for my best contraction. In the end dumbbells are the shiz.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squatter View Post
    I have to diagree with the point that not locking out is the proper way to press. Locking out is proper form. Why wouldn't you want to lock out?

    I recently brought this up with my Powerlifting Crew, as the topic came up in a members journal here. They all agreed that locking out is proper form. I asked them why so many bodybuilders say to not lock out. He said it's a myth really, and that many lifters are taught to not lock out from the start, thus the joints are not trained to handle the load and they experience pain or discomfort if they ever happen to lockout. Brian, the crew leader, then said that full ROM includes locking out, and that it is actually beneficial to the joints to train them in a full ROM. Locking out is also a requirement at a powerlifting meet.

    Brian's credentials are many, including a CPT for over 25 years, 25 years of powerlifting and head of the IPA Federation, and he is a certified judge.

    I have also read here that Steve supports locking out as well.

    I also asked the biggest benchers on the crew, who are benching 500+ lbs, and they said they have never experienced any joint pain from locking out. I have also been locking out all my life, and I also do not have any problems.
    Quote Originally Posted by Squatter View Post
    IMO, proper form is proper form. period. Not doing full ROM for the reason of "feeling it more in my pecs" is not a valid reason to not go full ROM.

    Everyone can make their own decisions on how to lift of course. If someone feels they are getting more out of the exercise by not locking out, all the power to them. It doesn't mean tho that they are doing the exercise properly.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeep21 View Post
    Here's what I have to say...

    Locking out shouldn't harm your joints if it's in a controlled state. On lockout, your muscle is fully contracted, and with proper form and technique the weight is properly displaced throughout your muscle, joints and overall body.

    Take for example a bicep curl (biomechanics of the elbow is easier to understand than the shoulder). When you curl the barbell up, you will eventually hit a point where you feel no tension on the bicep, because you reduced the angle of your arms. Same thing happens when you lockout on benchpress, except this time its the shoulder and not the elbow.

    Now where most people get confused on joint pain from locking out is a little thing called hyper-extending the joint. Hyper-extending, extending your joints past where they should stop extending.

    So for a benchpress, if you were to lockout with bad form and great explosiveness, all that kinectic energy would go in extending your elbow past to where it should of stop and thats where joint pain comes from when locking out.

    Although to keep this post relevant for the OP, I do a mix of both DB and BB, with a slight bend in my elbow to keep tension on my chest
    A) When you don't lock out it increases time under tension which creates more microtears in the muscle which is what 'causes hypertrophy/muscle growth (thus for a powerlifter it wouldn't make sense)

    B)Everybody has a different lock out based on the placement of their tendon and it's attachment point at the elbow joint. For people who have the tendon placed farther from the axis of flexion locking it would be safer because their joints can't actually physically lock (these people tend to also excel in bodybuilding and powerlifting because of this genetic gift.)

    Now for people who have tendon attaching very close to the center of the axis of flexion LOCKING OUT IS DANGEROUS! These people have superior range of motion and usually excel in sports (basketball, figure skating, gymnastics) because increased ROM is an advantage.

    I have locked out on a DB press before, I am one of these people with the tendon attaching close to the axis of flexion, and let me tell you...IT WAS BAD NEWS and I couldn't use my elbow in any pressing/curling/pulling movements for about two weeks because of joint pain.

    Nothing is black and white when it comes to training and honestly I'm sick of hearing "this is right/wrong" crap. IT IS CRAP! Everybody trains for different reasons, so if a bodybuilder doesn't lock out in order to increase Time Under Tension good for him. If a powerlifter locks out because that's how the lift is supposed to be done, good for him.

    If you have mechanical advantage and can lock out with out hurting your joints good for you.(some people's tendons are so far from their elbow that they can't even extend their arms straight out). If you don't lock out because you could hyperextend/or stress joints then good for you.

    Know your training, know your body. That's all I have to say.

    As far as DB vs Barbell. I like both.
    DB is good for correcting muscle/strength imbalances, barbell is really good if you have weak stabilizers. They both have their ups and downs. Know what works for you. Both are great exercises. It really depends on what works better for the person.

    That's all I have to say on this. Not trying to offend anyone.
    Last edited by majavojnovic; 11-01-2012 at 06:07 PM.
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    Coming Up The Ranks Jeep21's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeep21 View Post
    Here's what I have to say...

    Locking out shouldn't harm your joints if it's in a controlled state. On lockout, your muscle is fully contracted, and with proper form and technique the weight is properly displaced throughout your muscle, joints and overall body.

    Take for example a bicep curl (biomechanics of the elbow is easier to understand than the shoulder). When you curl the barbell up, you will eventually hit a point where you feel no tension on the bicep, because you reduced the angle of your arms. Same thing happens when you lockout on benchpress, except this time its the shoulder and not the elbow.

    Now where most people get confused on joint pain from locking out is a little thing called hyper-extending the joint. Hyper-extending, extending your joints past where they should stop extending.

    So for a benchpress, if you were to lockout with bad form and great explosiveness, all that kinectic energy would go in extending your elbow past to where it should of stop and thats where joint pain comes from when locking out.

    Although to keep this post relevant for the OP, I do a mix of both DB and BB, with a slight bend in my elbow to keep tension on my chest
    Also want to add that i find nothing beneficial in locking out your joints when lifting and wouldn't recommend it unless you are participating in powerlifting comps, because it is mandatory to do. And keeping a slight bend in your elbows without locking out doesn't compromise ROM in bench press.
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  23. #23
    Yoke is the new Biceps BigJosh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by majavojnovic View Post
    A) When you don't lock out it increases time under tension which creates more microtears in the muscle which is what 'causes hypertrophy/muscle growth (thus for a powerlifter it wouldn't make sense)

    .

    mariusz pudzianowski



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    Ms. New Booty majavojnovic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigJosh View Post

    mariusz pudzianowski



    Bill Kazmier

    Just doing my part to disprove your powerlifter stereotype.....
    What stereotype? I put nothing in there. All I said is it didn't make sense for powerlifters to consider Time Under Tension because it's not their objective. I'm not saying they can't have large chests/muscles.

    Anybody can become larger/stronger/more powerful when they're on roids.
    Last edited by majavojnovic; 11-01-2012 at 07:02 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigJosh View Post

    mariusz pudzianowski



    Bill Kazmier


    Just doing my part to disprove your powerlifter stereotype.....

    Its not a stereotype, its basic exercise physiology. Muscle affected by constant tension, as opposed to being locked out, will be more likely to have more microtears. For a powerlifter that competes in powerlifting, its inefficient for the competition aspect, not to not lock out. I also have a friend thats big and well define and competes in powerlifting.
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