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Train Your Weak Link for a Big Bench

By Dr. Mike Ozaki
"I was curious on your opinion about over head presses. I read in Powerlifting USA that many big benchers feel that overhead work such as dumbbell presses can cause strain on the shoulder joints and rotator cuffs. Many top benchers completely avoid this type of training. What do you think?"

Thanks, Mike Westerdal
Shoulder Anatomy
"I do not agree that overhead presses weaken the shoulders. I think this misperception comes from many big benchers failing to develop the rotator cuff adequately. I think weak shoulders result from failing to develop the rotator cuff, the four small muscles that secure the head of the humerus to the glenoid fossa of the scapula. The result of pressing heavy overhead is a tear in the rotator cuff in the weakness position, which is the subscapularis muscle. As you know many heavy benchers fixate on the bench and muscular imbalances develop in the rotator cuff of the shoulder. The weakest position of the shoulder is when you overhead press, because it has only a single muscle, the subscapularis, to hold the head of the humerus in place. Heavy weight in an undertrained muscle will tear it in it's weakest position. If you don't train the rotator cuff, it will tear, no if, and, or buts. That is why the device the "shoulder horn" is supposed to work. It isolates the rotator cuff and by selectively building this group you can improve your bench. You are only as strong as your weakest link and as you know every big bencher has problems with the rotator cuff. To ignore the overhead work totally, is to set up imbalances in the rotator cuff that will come back to haunt you. I have never used a shoulder horn, but it is supposed to strengthen the rotator cuff. Too many people feel they have to go big all the time...the rotator cuff are four small muscles that secure the head of the humerus to the glenoid fossa of the scapula. If the rotator cuff is built up slowly, it only stands to reason that your bench will improve because you are training your weak link. Train the weak link and you will prevent injury, and improve your lift overall. If you are interested let me know and I will get together with some physical medicine docs and give you a program to isolate and strength the rotator cuff. Again I am not a sports medicine doc, or an orthopedist, so take what I say with a grain of salt, but I am a pediatrician for 18 years with the last 5 of those being into weight training."

Sincerely, Mike Ozaki

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