THESE 7 EXERCISES CAN CAUSE SERIOUS INJURY! #2: Wide Grip Bench Press
So in this 2nd installment I want to quickly cover one of the most dangerous lifts out there:
The Bench Press
Doesn’t seem so dangerous? Well it has killed people before, and otherwise seriously maimed them.
Long term it can screw up the shoulders, elbows, wrists and your posture, short term it can screw up people’s health in that, worst case scenario, it can kill them. Pretty bad for your health, that.
When we bench (meaning for athletes), we usually use the parallel, or bi-acromial grip bench press. That simply means the arms are parallel to each other and exactly at your own individual skeletal shoulder width.
This one is a 50/50 lift: about 50% chest and 50 for triceps. And a little for the anterior delts (shoulder) as well.
So it pairs well with the close grip chin up, which is another 50/50 lift, this time for upper back (lats) and biceps.
When I teach this lift to some beginners’ athletes, I usually start out with the following little story, just to drive home the importance of safety in the weights room in general and the necessity of spotting and taking extra care with the bench press in particular…
In the Olympic Weight Lifting club in Berlin I used to train at, this powerlifter benched 220 kg’s (485 pounds) and the bar fell on his jaw.
Well, the jaw was crushed and splintered into a jigsaw puzzle the surgeons had fun with. A lot of wire went into fixing this one up…
In a way he was lucky: he survived. Would this weight have fallen on his neck, he’d probably be lifting in Valhalla now…
This video is brutal: if you’re already convinced, don’t watch it!
So I tell them, I say: “Look, even if you drop just 40 kg’s on your head, that’s gonna hurt, Bubba! And you don’t wanna put a dent into the bar, equipment’s expensive these days…” (gets a chuckle)
Next: always use a thumbs over grip (thumbs wrapped securely around the bar). Otherwise the bar can pretty easily roll out of your grip, especially if it’s somewhat bent.
Next: Always use a spotter, and I mean ALWAYS. Like I said, 40, 50, 60kg (130 pounds) that fall on one’s head from arms length can do some damage.
The spotter should use a pronated grip (palms facing his body), or a cross grip (like in the power lifting deadlift, one hand under, one over), simply because you can handle more weight like this than with a supinated grip (hands under, curl grip).
Help the lifter out with bar, and help put it back in. That’s also better for long term shoulder health.
Let the elbows wander out as they want, don’t try and squeeze them in, it might only create elbow problems over the long haul. Wrist = neutral.
Then, and especially for beginners, use a controlled eccentric (lowering portion) tempo, like 3 or 4 seconds.
The feet should be firmly planted on the floor for stability, never up on the bench or in the air!
And finally, when the bar stalls or technique breaks down don’t put your pinky under and shout “You can DO it, you can DO it!!” That calls for accidents. Simply grab the bar and put it back in the rack.
Other than that, we usually use different forms of dumbbell presses, which are both more effective -providing more ROM (range of motion), more stabilization stimulus- and safer, as well (you can just drop them to your sides).
Note: the bench press is often over-emphasized on a general basis, like in most fitness gyms. That results in droopy looking pecs (need a Bra, Brother?), rounded shoulders and impingement syndrome and other shoulder problems.
Coming from the world of athletes I can tell you that in most sports and instances, the bench press is not nearly as important as, say, the assorted chin and pull ups.
Anyways chest work should be balanced out with upper back work and especially some external rotation at the end of the workout.
Have Fun y’all,
Did you know that the word record bench press was set as far back as 2008, by Ryan Kennelly: 1075.0 lbs (487.6 kg) (November 8). Source: Wikipedia
If you want to try a Chest workout that will spare your shoulders, is safe even to do all on your own, saves time AND gives you that square, flat Calvin Klein chest, here’s a post on that: http://www.tsmethod.com/blog/best-chest-workout-in-the-universe/