Friday, April 2, 2010

The Bench Press = Useless

Whoa - What did he say?

Yep - that's right. I said it. The bench press is essentially.....useless.

Realizing I just uttered the gym equivalent of saying God doesn't exist in the middle of mass -

What's that Mr. Carlin??? He really doesn't exist?

Anyways, what I'm trying to say is that if I am going to state something so - crazy, I owe you guys some sort of explanation. It wasn't easy for me to admit this to myself, but after a week of wrestling with it - there was no other answer. So here goes.....

1. I can teach someone to perform a push-up correctly in 2-3 minutes. To teach someone to bench correctly in order to prevent them from completely wrecking their shoulder(s) can take in upwards of 2-3 sessions - if not more. The cost-benefit analysis here is heavily skewed in one direction.

2. Speaking of wrecked shoulders - is there any bigger culprit than the bench press? From the guy at Bally's with the scarecrow technique, to the elite powerlifter - the list of guys who have injured their shoulders on the bench in some way is extensive. Hard to be fit or strong if you are constantly walking around with a "bum" shoulder. Again, Risk-Reward in skewed in one direction.

3. On the flip-side, the push-up facilitates shoulder health by 2 main pathways. First, because the scapulae are allowed to move freely instead of being locked in retraction against a bench, scapular MOBILITY is enhanced. Second, the increased serratus anterior muscle activiation in comparison to the bench helps to enhance scapular STABILITY. Enhanced scapular stability and mobility=no more achy shoulders.

4. Your core. Admittedly, I despise the term "core" - I need to come up with something better. Trunk perhaps? Anyways. Because you don't get to lay down on a bench, your rectus abdominus(abs) muscles are forced into action to STABILIZE your body into a rigid "planked" position. The result is increased function and strength of the abdominals in their true purpose - STABILIZATION - not FLEXION as has been incorrectly touted ad nasuem through the recommendation of other pointless(and possibly harmful) exercises like sit-ups, crunches, etc.

and most importantly.......

5. Speaking of laying down on your back, there is only one situation I consider that beneficial - and the bench press ain't it!

There it is, that's my case against the bench press. Unless you are a powerlifter - or an adolescent tying to impress you friends with how diesel you are - the bench press seems pretty useless.

Some related reading written by people much more intelligent than me....
And finally, if you are going to bench - it's ok I did, and I know you will too, even after reading this - at least do it correctly. Start by learning how here, here, and here.

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