perfecting your bench press


Is it chest day at the gym?

Here’s what everyone should know:

When performing bench press, dumbbell press or even push-ups, there is much more that one must consider rather than having the sole goal of trying to achieve the ever desired perfect beach body chest.  One must always keep injury PREVENTION as the main priority in mind before all else.  Here are some helpful tips on ways to avoid injury, and increase overall performance.

What NOT to do?

Never bench press in a 90 degree posture: Bench pressing with your shoulder angle at 90 degrees (the angle that your arm is in relation to your torso) will put unnecessary load and tension on your anterior shoulder, specifically your bicep tendon.  This ultimately will lead to bicipital tendinosis/tenosynovitis, a common anterior shoulder injury due to improper lifting mechanics and thus force you to take time away from the gym.

What TO do and why:

Place your hands on the bar slightly wider then shoulder width apart.  Now, in this position try to “bend the bar” as if you were trying to form a upside down “U” with the bar.  By doing this, you are automatically engaging your large Latissimus Dorsi muscle.  This is the secret ingredient to a proper and effective chest workout.  By engaging this muscle, you are beneficially changing your lifting biomechanics to help avoid injury while still getting the most out of your workout.

How you ask?

1)     Set it and forget it: By engaging your Latissimus Dorsi in the attempts to “bend the bar” your shoulder blades are forced to move down and in.  This is termed the “scapular set” position.  This creates overall scapular stability that one needs to perform a safe and effective lift.

2)     No more tension: Engaging the Latissimus Dorsi forces your shoulder angle to decrease, thus bringing your arm and elbow closer to your sides.  This helps eliminate unwanted tension through the anterior shoulder by decreasing the angle at the shoulder reducing the stress on the anterior shoulder structures.

3)     Stabilizes shoulder: Because your Latissimus Dorsi attaches to the front of you upper arm, once engaged, you are ultimately training your anterior shoulder to “stabilize” throughout the entire lift.   This in turn indirectly trains the anterior shoulder for strength, endurance and stability.

4)     Arch support: By engaging the Latissimus Dorsi muscle, you are automatically creating a supportive arch of your low back by forming a “sling.”  This is because the Latissimus Dorsi follows the same lines as your Gluteus Maximus muscle, creating an “X” across your low back, thus bracing it.  Think back to the Olympics where men and women are lifting ubseen amounts of weight.  Ever notice there low back?? It is always, 100% arched through the whole lift.  This is because the stability across the low back and pelvis is paramount when performing exercises.

So next time its “chest day,” try to implement these tips into your lifting/pushing routine to help your efficiency and longevity of your workouts.

have a technique question?