If learning how to squat properly gets you an amazing body, then really, the only area not hit hard enough to get toned would be your chest. Enter the bench press.
You may want that nice shape to your chest, or perhaps to tone the back of the arms more, and if you do it right, get stronger abs!
Yes, the abs play a huge role in a lot of the popular lifts, however it is sad to see how few people do it correctly.
Energy Leaks and How They Will Kill Your Lift, and Kill Your Body
The human body has tremendous potential and when someone learns how to use it right, it can do amazing things.
Let’s look at a basic principle that few look at when training. Imagine your body, when all the bones are aligned one on top of the other, being able to withstand huge amounts of weight coming from above.
Now, let’s look at a lift; for the moment let’s look at someone when they first learn how to squat. They are either taught to do a Power Squat or an Olympic Squat, in either case, a part of the body moves away from the bar (knees forward or hips backward).
For today’s example, let’s use an Olympic Squat. When you do an Olympic Squat, your back remains upright and your knees move forward so that you can go into your squat position.
Your knees (the knee joint) have moved away from the body in an Olympic Squat.
Now, in a bench press, it’s your elbow that moves away from your body, and for many, the wrist too (we’ll touch on that some other time)!
But if you bench with a shoulder width grip, the only joint that shoots away from the body is the elbow.
This is normal and requires a lot of shoulder and arm strength to support the load.
In a way, this is an energy leak, as a joint moves away from the body. If you held the bar up but didn’t bend your elbows, your bones would be stacked and aligned and you would have much more power.
Where The Bench Press Goes To Crap
To explain one of the Bench Press’ biggest flaws, I’m going to use a few examples.
Let’s look at how you open a fridge door, a drawer and perform a handshake. And while we’re at it, let’s look at how you would do a Deadlift, dumbbell row, a pull-up or a barbell bent row.
All of the above happen with a neutral wrist. Now if you examine the majority of the things we do in life where gripping and holding is involved, you’ll notice the wrist, in most cases, is always safe in the neutral position.
Now, for some strange reason, billions of people do the push-up, the bench press and the over-head shoulder press with what I call a “broken” wrist. Which means that the wrist is hyperextended and has “broken away” from the bone stack.
This lessens the work of your abs and your triceps, which as far as I know, people want lean and toned. It will also plateau your lifting at some point as your pressing power is diminished by this loss of power.
A bigger concern for many should be the heavy strain imposed upon the wrist joint when it is bent this way.
Not many in the world know that the wrist joint is one of the top 3 sites for arthritis. Which crappy technique when you lift can expedite.
How Do I Fix This?
Learning how to do a bench press with proper technique, or any press for that matter, really requires an awareness and in many cases, a reduction in load to re-train the joint to hold neutral.
So, back off the weight a bit and begin to practice a neutral wrist.
As you do this, be aware of the position of your wrists and make sure they don’t “slip back” into the hyperextended position.
Be sure to do this with all press exercises in the gym, and all triceps work as well, including extensions, skullcrushers and the rest of the elbow extension exercises; because you sure as heck don’t “break” the wrist when you do a bicep curl!