How many times have you heard the cringe-worthy question “How much can you bench?”
For the longest time, the bench press has been central to the world of strength and stamina, -the holy grail of lifters worldwide.
Guys just love it!
The bench is the one-stop-shop for powerlifters and athletes looking for a well-developed chest, but turns out their faith in the bench is dead wrong…
Looking for a killer chest?
Read on to find out why you should ditch the bench, -and what to do instead.
4 Reasons Why Bench Press is Not Really All That Effective
So you might think the bench press is the mother of all chest exercises… Well, sorry to disappoint you, but it ain’t!You might think the bench press is the mother of all chest exercises... Well, sorry to disappoint you, but it ain't! Click To Tweet
And here’s exactly why:
You’re Not Built For it
Like it or not, we are all built differently. Some of us are suited to certain exercises, and the bench press sure as hell isn’t for everyone.
Here’s the ideal bench presser’s anatomy:
- short arms,
- chest like a truck,
- no neck.
Does that sound like you? If not, -don’t give yourself too hard a time if you’re struggling on the bench!
“The pushup is just as effective for building chest and arm strength as the bench press, finds a new study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.”
Reference: menshealth.com – New Study Shows How the Pushup Can Rival the Bench Press
You’re killing yourself on the bench, day-in, day-out, and what have you got in return?
Bencher’s chest. -The outer pectoral muscles are well-formed, yet the origin of the muscle near the sternum remain undeveloped. This is a CLASSIC trait of regular benchers.
You’re Going Sideways
When you press, you’re lying flat on your back, pushing weight up away from your chest horizontally. It is an isolated movement, in the sense you are not using bodyweight to balance or maneuver, and solely your chest muscles to push.
Now this is all pretty basic stuff, but think about it. How natural is this? How will you use this kind of strength?
It certainly doesn’t translate all that well to sports, and when will you ever need to perform the pressing motion in your day-to-day life?
“The Bench Press is the most dangerous of all exercises. A dozen of people die each year by dropping the bar on their face, throat or chest during the Bench Press.”
Reference: stronglifts.com – 10 Bench Press Mistakes That Kill And Injure Lifters
Aside from all the technical stuff, the damn bench press is just plain DANGEROUS.
You’ll struggle to find another exercise that kills as many people through error; every year dozens of people die after dropping the bar on their throat, face or chest.
Benching without spotters is all-too common, but sometimes with the huge amounts of weight involved, even the spotter can’t step in before it’s too late.
Due to the nature of the beast, the bench press is one of the most misused items in the whole gym; it’s not easy to have perfect form. Unfortunately, bad form can wreak absolute mayhem on your body.
Here are some all-too common errors on the bench:
– Thumbless grip (a.k.a. “suicide grip”)
– Flaring elbows
– Bent wrists
– Going heavy with no spotter
– Flat chest when pressing
– Racking the bar incorrectly
Ok, I Get it. You Don’t Like The Bench Press. So What Should I do Instead?
Bench press vs. dumbbell press?
For the pecs of an Athenian god, there’s no comparison!
Not only are dumbbells much safer and more versatile, they are a far more effective form of resistance training than the bench. You’re not putting your life on the line when you train without a spotter, so you can blast away worry-free.
Dumbbells offer a far greater range of motion than the bench press, and since your elbows are not locked, you can have a far more effective contraction at the peak of the motion.
So what does all of this mean?
- Balanced development,
- faster gains,
- leaner, and more powerful muscle.
Here’s how to do it like a boss:
- Keeping your feet flat on the floor, lie on the bench with one dumbbell in each hand. If you do not have a bench to lie on, be creative. A little table or a stability ball under your upper back will also do fine.
- Raise the dumbbells upwards to just outside shoulder width, with arms above your shoulders and palms facing your lower body.
- Elbows should be bent just beyond 90 degrees.
- Extending elbows and using your pecs, press the dumbbells towards the ceiling, stopping when the dumbbells are roughly an inch away from one another.
- Slowly lower to starting position and repeat.
Final Words – Bench Press is Really Not That Good
The bench can serve as one part of a well-balanced gym routine, but there’s no denying that it is outright dangerous, potentially ineffective and not everyone’s cup of tea.
If you’re looking for a god-like chest, there are a million exercises to get you there that AREN’T the bench press.
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