Simple Setup Tip To Eliminate Over-Tucking The Elbows
Especially for the modern wider grip and higher arch bench presser, we tend to heavily bias into an internally rotated grip and shoulder position on bench press. Most people reading this are likely familiar with the idea of a more internally rotated grip (bulldog grip), to the extremes of the Japanese style grip. An issue I commonly see though, is internally rotating your grip, but not your humerus. This then leads to exactly what you are trying to avoid, which is an overly tucked/externally rotated elbow position, with the bar, wrist, and elbows not being stacked in relation to each other. The reason this tends to occur is many times people already start thinking about depression and retraction as they are setting up. They are prematurely getting their upper backs “tight”, which the sensation of external rotating the humerus many times adds to that feeling. And we could get into a whole discussion about being more relaxed with the upper back during the setup to help fix this issue, but what I have found myself cuing very often recently with my athletes is to internally rotate with the elbows to set your grip, not the hand.
Reach your arm out in front of you. Notice that if you cue to internally rotate your hand, but keep your elbow tucked, you can gain some degree of internal rotation with the wrist while the elbow doesn’t move. But now do the same thing, but only think about internally rotating your elbow. I am sure you will notice the hand and wrist follow suit without you ever having to think about it. So the simple setup tip is when you are setting your grip, do not internally rotate with the hand, but instead internally rotate at the elbow to then create the internal rotation of the wrist and hand. What you will find is that as you unrack and finish your setup, you are not only going to maintain the internally rotated grip, but also likely the internally rotated humerus position. This will result in the bar, wrist, and elbow maintaining more of a stacked position, reduce over-tucking, and require less flare of the elbow as your press to regain position.