Pressing for Powerful Chest Gains
By Machine

Pressing for powerful gains consists of much more than just piling plates onto a barbell and moving it from your chest to full lock-out, over and over again. In fact, there are so many glossed over elements to the barbell press that they all bare mention in this intellectual exercise. Firstly, and for the purposes of clarity, I will confirm that we are discussing the proper methodology of barbell pressing for total chest development, and not for the purpose of bench pressing competitions. The machinations of the competition bench press, while being optimal for the sport it is utilized within, are less than optimal for the development of the total chest. To open this exercise, there are three prime areas with which we must concern ourselves: proper lifting posture, grip placement, and bar placement.

Proper Lifting Posture
The barbell bench press is a complete and total disaster for people who do not understand the practical application of neuromuscular pathways in relation to chest training or proper lifting posture. More athletes totally abandon this time tested weapon for pure lack of understanding than I can even imagine. The back is the pressing platform; the manner in which you align or stack these muscles will determine whether or not you reap the maximum benefit from them or piss it all away.

The Flat Barbell Bench Press:
1. Lie down on the bench and plant your feet in the position in which they will remain throughout the set.

2. Squeeze your shoulders in toward your spine. Draw your elbows in and squeeze all that muscle together while simultaneously drawing your ass in toward your head to form a slight arch in your back. Press off the heels. This accomplishes two things. Firstly, it sets the muscles of the back in the proper position to support the press and direct the stress away from the rotator cuff and onto the shoulder to chest tie-ins and the chest muscles. Secondly, it ensures that the chest is in both the highest and best position to accept the muscular stress of the set, and that the chest muscles will be worked ahead of the shoulders throughout the set.

3. This is the correct anatomical position for barbell pressing. It must be maintained throughout the entire set, regardless of your grip position or the weight on the barbell. The minute you allow this structural platform to breakdown, your fucking set is over! This will not be easy and it won't come overnight. Then again, what is easy? Now you are ready to place your hands on the barbell and adjust your grip accordingly.

Grip Placement
The next colossal fuck up for most people is the super wide barbell bench press grip. Most athletes believe that the wider they grip the bar, the more weight they can handle. WRONG! The extremely wide grips employed by most inexperienced athletes have the opposite effect of what the athlete desires. The wide grip places all of the stress and strain of the press toward the outside of the shoulder or the rotator cuffs. The reason for this, as you can plainly see in the previous section, is the back lies too flat on the bench, the chest sinks in and therefore is not the prime mover, and the entire process is fucked. The athlete winds up with no chest, inflamed biceps tendons, and impinged or damaged rotator cuffs.

1. In all barbell chest pressing, the grip placement should always favor close proximity to the shoulder joint itself for at least two reasons:

a. The integrity of the shoulder joint can best be maintained by aligning the grip placement so that the thumbs, when grasping the barbell, should not be farther than one or two inches from actually touching the outside of the chest muscles as the barbell lays across the chest. Think of two 10-foot planks that are joined long ways. The joint that couples them is one of your shoulders. The wider the anchor points, the weaker the joint will be, especially as the load is increased.

b. The muscles of the chest are taxed as you press the weight upward. The shorter the path or duration of the press from start to finish, the less finite stress is absorbed by the chest muscles. Short range presses set the scene for less than optimal muscular contractions, which will not lead to the desired athletic effect.

Bar Placement
Bar placement leads to scenarios which tempt the ever ambitious athlete to place the barbell lower and lower on the chest or rib cage, until finally the athlete is pressing the fucking barbell off his belly button in search of that ubiquitous three and four plate performance to feed his ego. The plain truth of the matter is that the athlete concerned with pure chest development must place the barbell anatomically closer to the throat than the chest if he or she hopes to increase the roundness and depth of the chest muscles.

1. As you lower the barbell to its home position on the chest, take care that you make that position somewhere above your nipples, and below your clavicle. This will compliment the grip placement and enhance your muscular growth by developing your chest from side to side and top to bottom.

2. Once you decide where that sweet spot is, you must touch the same spot on each and every repetition throughout each and every set in order to reap maximum muscular stimulation. This will come over time and you will notice that once you apply all three of the prescribed changes in methodology, the weight you once used may need to be decreased. The spot to which you lower the barbell must be the same or similar irrespective of whether you are pressing at a declined, flat, or inclined angle of exercise.

In the final analysis, one cannot hope to develop the muscles of the chest while chained to the barbell pressing numbers game. If you are the type who likes to see what the weight on the bar looks like then you should stop reading my articles from this point forward. You are wasting your time and you have done something infinitely worse than that-you have wasted my time. As I part, I leave you with this age old little gem,
“In bodybuilding, you don't have to bench 600 pounds. You just have to look like you can.”

 

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Inclined to Grow 

The Big Bench 

 

 

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