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“How much you bench” is arguably the second most important question in strength training, behind “Do you even lift?” But seriously, if you do lift, you’ve probably bench pressed before. You may even have a decent 1-3RM to boast but if you have extra long limbs, reaching your desired numbers can seem like an insurmountable hill to climb.
With that said, there are essential components to building chest size and strength for long-armed dudes and shockingly, they involve a barbell and a dumbbells. Pump up your pecs with these four chest training tips for guys with long arms.
This doesn’t mean switch to a full-on close grip bench press. Bring your hands inwards a few inches but be sure to maintain vertical forearms at the bottom of the movement. You’ll have to make a corresponding adjustment by touching the bar slightly lower down your chest when you make contact on the body.
Guys with long arms might think that benching with a flat back is a way to “avoid cheating, and isolate the chest” but the reality is that arching your back and bringing your chest up saves the shoulder from impingement. Pulling your shoulders back against the bench as your arch your back (leaving your butt on the bench) will help keep the rotator cuffs free from undue stress while giving you more leverage to press the bar.
More leverage means more weight lifted and in the case of long-armed guys, every little bit helps.
Dumbbell bench press (especially low incline dumbbell press) is much more effective for chest isolation than its barbell counterpart. The ability to squeeze the pectoral muscles at the top of the rep for a few seconds without comprising form stimulates more muscle activity in this region than a barbell.
Of course, the barbell will recruit the three heads of the triceps more, but if you’re looking to gain maximum size on your chest, you’ll need to start dumbbell pressing too. For this exercise, retract your shoulder blades against the bench but keep your back flat against the bench. The ability to adjust elbow position freely makes impingement unlikely.
Since bad shoulders and long arms tend to go hand in hand, attack things at the root and make your rotator cuffs more stable from the get go. More scapular work like seated rows, reverse flies, inverted rows, pulldowns, pull ups, and bentover rows are invaluable additions to your overall lifting program to bulletproof your shoulders.
The stability of your scapulae will be a huge determining factor in the strength of your bench press, so make no mistake! Plus, benching too often can create muscle imbalances that can pull your hips too far forward and cause postural deformities which can lead to lower back pain.