#358 – Elbow Flare: Causes & Corrections

Elbow flare is a common bench press error that afflicts many lifters at one time or another. What are its causes, what are potential cues to correct it, and what supplemental exercises, movement, and set up changes help reduce or eliminate elbow flare? We examine this frequent & persistent bench press deviation.


0:00 USSF Meet Prep Update & Intro
7:12 RPE 11 Andrew
13:56 Causes & Anatomy
28:06 Cues to Correct
34:14 Supplemental Lifts
37:56 Touchpoint
40:42 Set Up & Conclusion

Elbow flare is a common bench press error where the elbows flare out on the ascent. This error, much like a good morning squat, produces movement of the joints without moving the bar up.  It decreases the ability of the pecs to contribute to the lift, though it reduces the horizontal moment of the bar from the glenohumeral joint.

The first weapon in a lifter or coach’s arsenal is corrective cues.  Common cues include pinch something between your arm pits or pretend you’re being tickled from behind, though these too often do not work.  Some other cues are to pretend the bar is a rubber band or to shove the elbows out during the descent, for what lifters often do is find the tension where there is none.  Elbow flare may be overcorrecting for lack of tension during the descent.

Common supplemental lifts to help correct this error are spoto press (pause the bar 1-2 inches above the touch point; hold it; then press the bar up) or paused bench press.  These emphasize tightness & control.
The other things to examine are the touch point and set up for the bench press:  ensure these are not only correct but optimal.




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