The ‘Big 3’ Gym Lifts (Pt.2)
This is the second part of the big 3 Gym Lifts! Check out my previous blog post on The Squat to bring you up to date!
We will look at “The Bench” and the technique I learnt from Sebastian Oreb “Australian Strength Coach”.
Before The Bench I would always do my Activation Work.
For Bench and any upper body workout the 3rd part of the activation series is the one to complete [Part 3 of 3] “The Activation Series” – Learn How To Lift, Move & Feel Better by Aarvi
This bench technique acquires the arching technique and has a vast amount of positives
over flat bench.
- You can potentially lift heavier load as range of movement is decreased
- Allows people with shoulder pain to bench with decreased risk of injuring it further
- A great rehabilitation tool/exercise
So why does the arch help, well when lying flat on the bench the board of the bench can restrict free movement of the scapula especially retraction of the shoulder blades (bringing shoulder blades together). When the bar is lowered to the chest at the bottom of the position the scapula movement is restricted therefore impingement of the shoulder joint can occur.
This position is the most vulnerable position for the impingement to occur (bar on the chest = shoulder in stretch position).
Finding the safest scapula position in the most vulnerable part of the press is very important in reducing shoulder injury.
This is where arching comes in, as it allows the thoracic spine to be extended or arched because in this position the shoulder blades can be retracted and depressed (shoulder blades back and down). Hopefully that gives you a bit of insight of why arching is required for great shoulder health when you bench.
So here are the steps –
Sit on edge of bench so when you lay down your head will not hit the barbell.
Lay down and slide back until head is off the bench (further back to allow feet to get into position).
3. Lower yourself down by bending at the hips to grab the bar (Not your knees). The efficient position is having the arms go straight down (may have to go slightly wider dependent on hip structure
Grab the bar where you find comfortable (further apart = less range of movement).
4. Whilst holding onto the bar keep your elbows locked and sit into position by bending the knees and simultaneously pulling your shoulder blades down (armpits to pelvis) This recruits the lats and will keep the bar close to body. It will also take slack out of the bar as you will have crown of head facing to ceiling (Looking straight ahead)
Bring the feet back, standing on the balls of your feet with heels up in the air. Push the heels down to the ground, but heels do not touch the floor. This allows for the hip to be extended and to keep pushing until you finish the set.
Using the barbell slide the body into position so the barbell is just in front of the eye level. The correct foot position would be the heel is 45 deg from ground. Less then this means your feet aren’t in the right position so you lose the ability to push down and create enough tension through the movement.
This position should show an even arch from the sacrum to the cervical spine (hip to neck). Big focus is on scapula retracted and depressed (Imagine pulling shoulder blades down towards back pockets).
Un-rack the bar preferably with a spotter as the position of shoulder blades can be lost when un-racking yourself. If this is the case make sure your shoulder blades are at least retracted (back together). The barbell should now be directly over the shoulder joint
Lower the bar with controlled tempo to chest, imagine pulling the barbell apart (keeps muscles in upper back tight)
When the barbell touches the chest, shoulder blades will be back and down, heels should be pressed down and chest held high. From here push the barbell back up to starting position
Repeat as necessary.
So there you have it The Bench Press!
This is a great exercise for upper body development and done properly can assist greatly with shoulder pain and/or rehabilitation and/or performance!