I’m guilty of doing it...The gym is empty and the lone iron giant shrouded in darkness is made to bare weight, so why not. Although the stigma of setting foot in a squat rack for anything less than a standing press is widely voiced, there is merit in using unconventional heavy movements to improve your big 3 - Squat, Bench and Deadlift.
With a dime-a-dozen weekend certified trainers trying to convince you to perform one-legged BOSU snatches and 600 rep burpees, it’s time we got back to the basics with a modern twist. Bookmark these next few articles to smash some PR’s. Today, John Davies, Founder of Renegade Training, will discuss unique movements to add to your bench day.
Sweat the Small Stuff
When performing the Bench Press, many tend to lose focus upon the dynamics of the lift and tend to create an upper body that lacks balance and is highly susceptible to injury. The Bench Press, whether performed with technique associated to bodybuilding or powerlifting, needs an ‘air of prevention’ with great effort placed upon upper back and shoulder capsule strength and integrity. In addition to tricep work, this effort can be greatly assisted with accessory movements.
Pull-Ups | Chin-Ups
Oddly enough, as many gravitate towards the Bench Press, Pull-Ups and Chin-Ups are easily considered the ‘Squat of the Upper Body’. There is not two more important standard movements that will have as significant of an effect upon upper body strength than, of-course, the Bench Press. With Pull-Ups | Chin-Ups, the best approach is likely the simplest, such as establishing a volume mark daily and weekly. In this manner, set a target of say a ‘century’ (100) pull-ups or chin-ups within two workouts per week (alternate movement). Furthermore, add lighter volume training on ‘off days’ at 25 to 40% of focused days to assist recovery and aid movement efficiency.
Bar Hangs and Handstands
Lost to the world of complex training approaches and expensive machines are the once common bar hangs and handstands with the former assisting ‘decompression’ and the latter for general muscular balance, stability and coordination. Each can and should be performed daily by making use of the general ‘time under tension’ approach of say five sets of a minute each.
The classic dumbbell shoulder tri-set routine of Front Raises, Lateral Raises and 45° Bent Over Raises (6 to 8 reps with slow eccentric and otherwise PRECISE technique) has stood the test of time and will greatly enhance general and balanced strength of the shoulder region which will naturally carryover to the Bench Press.
Single Arm Bench Press
Performed with either a barbell (my preference) or dumbbell, the Single Arm Bench Press can greatly assist shoulder capsule integrity as well as promote proper body positioning and learning to ‘pull the weight down’ with complete control. Care must be taken to make use of a sufficiently light weight to promote proper movement but, otherwise, this is a tremendous exercise with a profound result.
It certainly isn’t normally considered within Bench Press development, but for general upper-body work most lack the ‘functionality’ of strong forearms. Whether for bar control, balance or simple confidence, strong, powerful forearms play an enormous role in development but most have allowed this area to become an afterthought.
Despite the shoulder capsule being highly susceptible to injury, it is often the most ignored. It is critical for this region to be trained daily to ensure a strong and stable shoulder capsule which will later lead to an improved Bench Press. Simple, effective and free for the use of all; STS™.
Simple and effective, regular use of these movements along with appropriate tricep work and a balanced training routine can assist your training goals.
Prepared by John Davies
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of USPlabs or any employee thereof. Examples used within this article are only examples. USPlabs is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the authors of this article. Content contributors are not employees of USPlabs. Authors may have been remunerated by USPlabs.
The information provided in this article, as well as this web-site blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice for any condition. Always consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. By reading this disclaimer, you hereby agree and understand that the information provided in this column is not medical advice and relying upon it shall be done at your sole risk.