Michael Schletter, CPT Men's Fitness
Your workouts to this point have been great, and you're looking better than ever. Women love your arms, and your six-pack is envied by all. However, your weight hasn’t increased in eight weeks, and your bench press numbers haven't budged in months. Instead of hammering away at your chest workouts with more and more sets and reps, use these three weak-point improving strategies to start seeing results today.
The Issue: Weak Lats
Truth is, even while benching, your back is engaged the whole time and your lats even help you move the weight. So without strong lats, your bench is doomed when it reaches a certain point, and may even go down due to other imbalances that could arise from not working your back.
Superset your bench press with bent-over rows to give your back the strength it needs to keep assisting you with the bench press.
The Issue: Sticking Points
Have a buddy watch you or spot your bench press for a heavy set of three to five reps. Then have him tell you where he wanted to help you, as in where he felt you couldn’t complete the rep. There are three common places: getting the weight off your chest, pushing through the middle of the range of motion (after your elbows reach a 90 degree bend), and the lockout at the top of the motion.
For the first sticking point, work on your form. Make sure your shoulder blades are pulled back the whole time, giving you a platform to press from. For the second one, try doing a floor press, meaning a dumbbell or barbell bench press lying on the floor. Lastly, for the lockout, work on your shoulders with the standing overhead barbell press.
The Issue: Shoulder Pain
The bench press puts a huge amount of pressure on the shoulder, as if they didn’t have enough to worry about already with your desk job and the position you sit in to write your boss an email. Add to this the fact that your shoulders are probably already unstable in the front, leading to tightness in the back, and you’ve got serious problems.
Regularly stretching your pec minor muscle can alleviate all the before-mentioned conditions. To do this, set up as you would for a normal pec stretch and perform a pressing motion with the arm, keeping the arm on the wall, until there is a 30-degree angle between your neck and arm. Then lean away until you feel a stretch in your shoulder and where your pec meets your shoulder.
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