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Thread: Wrist position during press

  1. #1

    Default Wrist position during press

    Hi Coach Rip,

    Studying the pictures and drawings in SSBBT2 I am not sure about the extension of the wrist regarding the starting position and the lockout position over head in the press. Figure 5-10 as well as 5-13 clearly shows a bended wrist. 5-15 shows the lockout position with a straight wrist-line. Me myself I realized that I can lift more weight using a bent wrist (not to mention that for me it is necessary to bend my wrist so that the barbell rests on my anterior deltoid). In spite of that figure 5-16 shows a relative straight wrist being in the starting position. Whenever I use this wrist-position I am not able to use as much weight as with the aforementioned wrist-position, not at all.

    So my question are:
    1. Am I right that the starting position in the press uses a (quite) bent wrist, the lockout a straight one thus the wrist straightens during the upward movement? Or should the wrist be more like in the bench press throughout the whole movement (figure 3-13).
    2. Is there an ideal wrist-straightening process interdependent with the ideal bar movement upwards (if at all)? Or is this more of an individual thing?
    3. The fact that I can lift far less weight with a straight wrist in the starting position makes me wonder why. Or am I built wrong? ;-)
    Regardless of the wrist position:
    4. The lats, in which position am I to bring them: should I pull my shoulderblades back (bench press) or perhaps push them out (sth. like to emphasize the lat's V-shape - figure 5-8 indicates the V shape ?!?)? ... I don't know how to describe this, hope you get my point. (I am aware of the fact that I have to lift the chest. I can do this in either way.)
    5. I am curios about the contribution of the clavicular in the overheadpress.

    I hope my decriptions are clear enough. English isn't my mother tongue.

    Help and explanations much appreciated. Thank you.

  2. #2
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    From the 3rd Edition manuscript:

    Just as for the bench press, the grip should position the bones of the forearm directly under the bar, to eliminate any leverage produced against the wrist from the bar back in the hand. The best way to position the grip efficiently is to set the grip width at the index finger, and then to rotate the hands into pronation by pointing the thumbs down toward the feet. This aligns the bar with the “radial longitudinal crease” and between the “thenar eminence” (the high spot adjacent to the thumb) and the medial palmar (the “hypothenar”) eminence on the other side – parallel to your "life-line," to use a more familiar term. Then, just lay your fingers down on the bar and squeeze the fingertips into the bar. When you take it out of the rack, the bar will be directly over your forearm bones on the heel of your palm, as in figure 5-8. The thumbless grip is never used when pressing, not because of the danger – which is obviously not there when the bar can be dropped to the floor. Rather, the thumbs-around grip permits the "squeeze" in the forearms that increases the tightness of the muscles, making the drive from the start position more efficient and increasing motor unit recruitment throughout the arms and upper body.

    3. You are doing it wrong.

    4. It's hard to get the elbows forward when your scapulas are adducted too much.

    5. The clavicle is a bone. It contributes by agreeing to stay a part of the shoulder.


  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    From the 3rd Edition manuscript:

    Just as for the bench press, the grip should position the bones of the forearm directly under the bar, to eliminate any leverage produced against the wrist from the bar back in the hand. The best way to position the grip efficiently is to set the grip width at the index finger, and then to rotate the hands into pronation by pointing the thumbs down toward the feet. This aligns the bar with the “radial longitudinal crease” and between the “thenar eminence” (the high spot adjacent to the thumb) and the medial palmar (the “hypothenar”) eminence on the other side – parallel to your "life-line," to use a more familiar term. Then, just lay your fingers down on the bar and squeeze the fingertips into the bar. When you take it out of the rack, the bar will be directly over your forearm bones on the heel of your palm, as in figure 5-8. The thumbless grip is never used when pressing, not because of the danger – which is obviously not there when the bar can be dropped to the floor. Rather, the thumbs-around grip permits the "squeeze" in the forearms that increases the tightness of the muscles, making the drive from the start position more efficient and increasing motor unit recruitment throughout the arms and upper body.

    3. You are doing it wrong.

    4. It's hard to get the elbows forward when your scapulas are adducted too much.

    5. The clavicle is a bone. It contributes by agreeing to stay a part of the shoulder.
    I'm reading this, and I understand it - for the most part - but, what I gather from it is that you don't want our wrist bent in the starting position, which of course differs from the figure in the 2nd editions as the OP pointed out. I'm sorry if this interpretation is wrong. It's just hard for me to visualize what you're talking about.

    It also makes me wonder how I can possibly rest the bar on my delts any longer. If I try to keep my wrist vertical as I do in the bench, and still keep my elbows in front of the bar, the bar would be about 2-3 inches from my delts.

  4. #4
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    There are a lot of people who confuse the bar over the wrist bones with a "straight wrist". "Palm pointed to the ceiling with the bar over the wrist bones, not near the fingers" works at the seminars. And if your forearm is long relative to the humerus, the bar will not be close to your delts with a mechanically correct grip and elbows just in front of the bar.


  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    And if your forearm is long relative to the humerus, the bar will not be close to your delts with a mechanically correct grip and elbows just in front of the bar.
    Are you saying that in this situation it is better for the lifter to start fro a position where the bar is not in contact with the shoulders "floating" in preference to the elbows being "too far forward" and the bar actually resting on shoulders?

    I have to start my press with humerus at about 45 to vertical and have wrists pretty much fully bent to get the bar on my shoulders (shoulders are elevated properly too). Many people have told me this is not ideal, but it feels far stronger for me than doing it with the bar "floating" and humerus more vertical.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dastardly View Post
    Are you saying that in this situation it is better for the lifter to start fro a position where the bar is not in contact with the shoulders "floating" in preference to the elbows being "too far forward" and the bar actually resting on shoulders?
    I am saying that you either do it this way or give up your grip mechanics. Not everybody will be good at this, sometimes because you were born with less-than-perfect anthropometry.


  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    TAnd if your forearm is long relative to the humerus
    I'd be curious what forearm/humerus ratio is "normal". I know I have abnormally long arms, and I suspect I have relatively long forearms. Is there a range of ratios that's normal that you could tell us, or is it just something that you know when you see someone setting up for the press?

  8. #8
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    I suppose Normal would be where you're able to set the bat on your delts with a correct grip and elbows just in front of the bar. We can call Normal anything we want to, so let's just call it that.


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