Chest has always been a favorite body part of lifters.
It’s aesthetic prominence, size and strength means that training it can be an addictive mix of lifting heavy weight and building an enormous pump. But one issue has plagued chest lifters throughout the ages – shoulder injury. It either accumulates over many years of lifting or happens in a heartbeat, either way it is almost always avoidable. One common issue is that lifters ignore obvious shoulder issues until it’s too late, because they simply don’t want to stop training chest. However, there are several excellent chest movements that can be used to rest and rehab the shoulders while straining the pecs – one such movement is the plate pinch press.
It sounds and looks a little silly: One stands upright squeezing weight plates between palms, and simply pushes outwards. On first glance this might not seem like a strong chest exercise, as the push is not directly against gravity, but the force required to keep the plates from slipping beneath the palms is more than an adequate chest workout.
Believe it or not, new age functional fitness types have actually made some valuable contributions to out understanding of the way the human body works, or has evolved to work. One of these insights, constantly declared by proponents of sandbag workouts, is that the chest primarily evolved to move and control objects in front of it, not across it. So the benefit of something like a plate pinch press or a cable crossover is that it allows for contraction of the arms downward and inward, as opposed to forward and back. This helps recruit the sterno-costal or ‘lower’ head of the pec major, and take load off the clavicular head, which reduces stress on the shoulders.
So next time you’re struggling with shoulder pain or stiffness, know that you can train chest without doing the same movements that have put wear on your shoulders. No chest movement is more iconic than the bench, but don’t be stuck in a rut if your current movements are causing setbacks.
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