If bench press leaves you flat … no pump … or any of that other good stuff, listen closely.
You say Bench Press isn’t cutting it, there’s a good chance Your Pec Tricep tie-in isn’t your strong point. Bench press relies solely on the Pec Tricep Tie-in. Some of us just haven’t got very good nerve enervation in this area. Could be Pec-Bicep tie-in is your answer.
There are several exercises that use the Pec-Bicep tie-in such as Smith Machine press to neck, Dumbell Flys, Cross Chest Pullys Hanging Rings and Reverse grip dips. One of the best of the whole bunch is the reverse grip dip. (If you do it right) By the way, just plain old dipping bars won’t cut it. They have to be designed a certain way.
Let me spend a couple of minutes on how they need to be put together.
To start off with, the diameter of the parallel bars should be at least 1.5 inches. Two inches is preferable. If you use little skinny bars, when you reverse your hands, a narrow bar cuts across your palms and injures the nerve. The next thing that’s critical is the angle on the bars. Parallel bars won’t do it. The bars have to be “V” shaped.
Okay, assuming you have the bars designed right, lets get to work. We call this concept, Pec-Bicep tie-in because the key to the correct movement is the harmony between the Pecs and the biceps. Sort of pulling together. I know, I know, all muscles can only contract (cannot push anything), but we have a tendency to think of triceps as pushing and biceps as pulling. Even though it’s not correct, lets just pretend for now, because it will help you get the right movement a little easier.
First lets put you up into position on the dipping bars. The palms should be reversed but not totally reversed. Just about 3/4s is best. That way it’s not so hard on the wrists.
The back should be rounded not arched. Put your head down on your chest and extend the feet forward. Now you’re at the top and in correct position. Slowly lower the body keeping the feet forward, the back rounded and the chin on the chest.
Here’s the first part that’s different when you’re using the Pec-Bicep tie-in. Just before you start to straighten your arms out, throw your elbows forward. Now as you start to come up, concentrate on pulling the arms straight rather than pressing them straight. This is going to take more biceps than triceps. It’s a new feeling so you will have to concentrate in order to get it right.
Remember to keep the elbows all the way forward as you come up. Don’t let them start to stray back as the exercise gets tough. Right at the point where it gets hard, you’ll be tempted to use the triceps to do the work by letting your elbows move back. Don’t do it! Keep the Pecs and biceps working together. It’s a totally different feel.
Actually once you get the hang of it … It’s a more natural movement because the Pecs and the biceps both pull together rather than compete with each other like the pecs and triceps.
I’ll admit this is a tough exercise to get right. But when you do … man, is it great.
If you’ve got pecs like mine, they don’t do beans when I use bench press. They just sit and yawn through the whole thing. But when I hit them with this pec bicep combination it gets them hopping around like a bead of water on a hot griddle. The difference is like night and day.