Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, knows Monday is National Chest Day. Step into a 24 hour fitness on a Monday and the line for the bench press looks more like the line for Space Mountain. Ravenous hordes of testosterone with legs (kind of, many of them seem to skip leg day), run to the bench press like they’re stranded in the desert and have just spotted a lush oasis on the horizon.
The hordes are hungry for one thing: big-ass chesticles. The bench, they believe is the true path to looking like Wolverine or Thor or (insert super hero). However, much like the oasis, the bench press as a means to this end is a mirage.
Oh, Stop yer Benchin’ and Moanin’: the Problem of Excessive Bench Pressing
Dudes bench all the time because they want to have that proud-chest-cover-of-a-men’s-magazine health look. The bench mainly works the pecs, delts, and tri’s and allows people to hoist up some pretty heavy weights, so it makes sense that it would be the weapon of choice for beach muscle development.
The problem with the bench press arises when bros don’t balance out their pressing with heavy rowing. Doing lots of pressing internally rotates your shoulders, whereas rowing does the opposite and will help to pull your shoulders back.
To see how your shoulders affect the appearance of your chest, try this: face a mirror and try to make your shoulder blades touch. You’ll notice your chest is automatically on display. The muscles that position your shoulders such that your chest looks prominent are strengthened by rowing. Not only will this build happier, more resilient shoulders, but you’re chest will stand out more.
The tragedy of the gym rat who constantly benches to get a big chest is that his shoulders are rounded over (that is, his shoulders are internally rotated) causing his chest to cave in. All that benching is making his chest look smaller. This will hide any pec muscle this guy has.
Proper Technique:the Key to Setting Benchmark PRs
We’ve already established that going nuts on the bench can do the opposite of what most dudes want it to. In addition, poor back strength and technique leads to a weaker bench and shoulders crankier than Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.
Many don’t realize the bench press is actually a pull that heavily involves your upper back. Rather than go into too much detail I will just direct you here:
http://breakingmuscle.com/strength-conditioning/the-bench-press-is-a-pull-5-cues-you-might-be-missing The article explains how a properly executed bench press involves a lot of pulling motions.
The point is, learning how to get your back involved will help you lift heavier and give your rotator cuff a break. At the same time, building a strong back by doing heavy rows will consequently help your bench press numbers.
A Very Pressing Matter
By overemphasizing the bench and neglecting the upper back you are setting yourself up for injury, not getting as strong as you could, and failing to get the physique you want. The moral of the story is: balance out your benching with AT LEAST an equal amount of heavy rows.
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