The Unbalanced Theory of The Bench Press By Jimmy Lamour
Have you ever wondered why the bench press is such a popular exercise in every high school gym in America? As a former high school football coach it amazed me how many athletes were obsessed with how much they benched. They performed numerous sets and variations of the bench. Some achieved bigger chests, but this new found strength had very little carryover to the field. Where did the obsession start and what should be done to correct it?
I believe that if we look at where we started we can figure out what went wrong. I often notice how perfect the form of my 3 year old son is when he has to bend down and pick up an object. Their small bodies are in perfect alignment and although not very coordinated have great movement patterns. What makes these finely tuned bodies become so unbalanced? Look no further than your typical PE class or pop warner leagues and you will notice tons of little bodies doing push ups.
Many times they are done incorrectly, but rarely are they not stressed. In watching my 9 year old son perform push ups at his Tae Kwon Do class, I had to expose some of the flaws in the way they executed their push ups. I told him that their arms were too far in front of their bodies causing more stress on their shoulders and less activation of their chest. They also had their arms too wide, which took the emphasis off of the triceps which can help them when they later learn to bench. Finally, they titled their pelvis forward when they were holding the push up position, which puts pressure on the back since it's not in a neutral position. Mike Robertson wrote a great article on how to correct the improper movement of the pelvis.
The solution to helping the high school athletes become more balanced is to do the opposite of the bench press or push up. Start including more pull ups and inverted rows into their programs. The pull up seems so unattractive to athletes because it is hard and considered old school. But it is a great predictor of relative strength which is related to determining speed. The more a person can manipulate their body to do the pull up will usually determine how well they can manipulate their body to be efficient at sprinting. A coach can also emphasize that a well built back will create a great base for bench pressing and has been shown to increase many maximum bench press totals.
The overemphasis of the bench and pushups at an early age is beginning to explain why so many high school athletes have shoulder pain, a hunched over posture, and poorly functioning back muscles. In order to have any chance to put a dent into this problem I believe you have to educate many of these PE teachers and sports coaches who are doing more damage than good with their exercise selection.
Here is a workout that will balance the chest dominance in early child hood as well as improve their general preparedness.
Dynamic Warm- Up ( 10-12 minutes)
Body weight Squat- 12
Pull ups- Max Reps
Single Leg Movement - 12
Push ups - Max Reps
Burpees - 6
Plank - 6
Dynamic Warm-Up (10-12 minutes)
Bodyweight Deadlift - 12
Inverted Row - Max Reps
Single Leg Movement- 10
Med Ball Chest Pass - 10
Bear Crawl - 8 10 yd trips
Rotational Ab Routine - 10
Conditioning & Tumbling games
GHR/ Stablility Ball Curl- 12
50 yard jog
Split Squats - 10
50 yard jog
Sled Rope Pull - 10 yds
50 yard jog
Push Up Holds - 15 Sec.
50 yard jog
Lateral lunge - 10 ea. Leg
50 yard jog
Side Plank - 10
* All these circuits can be repeated after 3 minutes as the athlete becomes more advanced.
About The Author
Jimmy Lamour is a former Guilford College in Greensboro, NC All South Defensive Back. He set the record for interception return yards at the school. Upon Graduation, he tested numerous philosophies on strength and speed through seminars, self-study, conversation with renowned strength coaches, and training of hundreds of athletes.
This led him to develop a system that helped him improve his 40 yard dash from a 4.66 to a 4.30, which gave way to many professional football workouts. He later developed Lamour Training Systems with the help of his lovely wife Charlene to help youth athletes improve their performance and receive knowledge he missed out on as a child. He continues to consult with several division 1 , prep school, and high schools coaches.
He is currently certified as a youth fitness specialist. He has two children Camdon (12) and Micah (7).Sign up for his newsletter at fastyouthathlete.blogspot.com