Monday, May 30, 2022

Bench Press Warmup -- Nicholas Gallo

 






Can You Do 10 Pushups?

The bench press is a very advanced exercise that you should not rush into with poor form. There is one test that I recommend to people and that is, can you perform 10 pushups maintaining optimal form? 

If you can perform 10 bodyweight pushups while maintaining great form, then yes, you have a good base to begin bench pressing. 

I do, however, want you to try this, and I will go over the correct pushup form even if you believe you can already do it. Learning this is beneficial because when you do a pushup with optimal form, you are learning the optimal form for bench pressing. 

First off, when you go into a pushup position, you want your hands to be at shoulder width, or preferably a little wider. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders. Most people do those two steps correctly. 

Let's focus on head positioning for a second. A lot of times I see that a person's head will come forwards and put a lot of strain on the neck. it's important to make sure that your head remains in line with your shoulders, if you were to look at yourself from the side. Now, I will say that depending on who you talk to, they prefer that you look forward as you do pushups. From an injury prevention standpoint and for the sake of perfecting this motion to bench press correctly, I would not recommend that here.

Now let's look at your shoulder position. Are you shrugging your shoulders up towards your head, or are they down? You want to make sure that your shoulders stay down; a popular cue I like to use is, "Tuck your shoulder blades into your back pockets." If you keep your shoulders shrugged upwards, you are putting yourself at rick for a shoulder injury. 

As you descend and go towards the ground, your elbows will bend and go out from the side of your body. A big mistake I see often is that as a person is doing pushups, their elbows will really flare out from the sides, which puts tremendous strain on the shoulders. A good rule of thumb to aim for is, as you descend to the ground, try to maintain a 45-degree angle from your elbows to your body. 

As you move further down the body, common mistakes that I see are that people allow their hips to sag and their back to arch. In order to prevent this, i give people a cue to engage their core. I commonly tell them, "Try to pull your bellybutton toward your spine." Doing this engages a muscle known as the Transversus Abdominis and creates a rigid spring. Another key thing to do is to engage your glutes. "Try to squeeze your butt cheeks together," is a cue I give for this.

If you have the ideal setup and are following all of these directions i have given above, it's time to try 10 pushups. I see a lot of people that rush through these, which is good if you are going for speed, but it is often at the expense of optimal form. Maintaining optimal form, I like to descend towards the ground at a count of "One Mississippi," and raise up at the same count. This is a good amount of time that shows that you have control.


Bench Press Warmup 

You can do 10 pushups with optimal form and are almost ready to do the bench press. One thing I see commonly is that people are not warming up properly. What many people don't realize is that the bench press can be very risky for your shoulders if they are not warmed up/strengthened properly. 

The area of the shoulder that can be injured during this exercise is commonly known as the Rotator Cuff. It's a group of four small muscles: Teres Minor, Infraspinatus, Supraspinatus, and Subscapularis. These muscles all have individual actions, but their main function is to work as a unit to stabilize the shoulder. If you have weak stabilization at the shoulder joint, then you are not only limited in the amount of weight you are able to lift, but you are also putting yourself at a HUGE risk for injury.

There is another area that I like to include in the warmup: the Scapula, also known as the Shoulder Blade. A lot of the movement at the shoulder depends on scapular motion; therefore, some of these exercises also include scapular motion. The scapula is extremely important, especially when dealing with posture. Kim et al. determined in a study that, "These finding suggest that the elastic band exercise program used in the study is effective for lengthening the pectoralis major and correcting rounded shoulders and forward head posture." This means that with the regular use of elastic bands in their study, people were able to correct their posture with simple band exercises. Since ideal posture helps prevent injury in the bench press, this warmup routine will target that. 

To begin with, do 10 minutes of cardiovascular training just to get the blood flowing. I personally jog on a treadmill or do some type of jump roping. Anything to get things moving and to feel more limber. Next, what I like to do and what I recommend for people is to grab a resistance band. All resistance bands are different and their color scheme refers to different resistances, so I recommend that you choose a very easy one to begin with.


Band Pull Aparts - Palms Down

The first exercise that I like to begin with is known as the Band Pull Apart with the palms down. I really like this exercise because it focuses mainly on the scapular motion I was referring to earlier and strengthens the upper back, which most people are deficient in. It is also providing some activation for areas in the back of the should3er, which is often overlooked in weight lifting. 

1) To begin, grasp a resistance band straight in front of you with your palms facing downward at approximately shoulder width. Allow your shoulders to round slightly. You want your elbows completely straight in this position, with no bend in your arms. 

2) Now, as the name suggests, you want to pull the band apart by moving your hands out laterally to your sides while maintaining straight elbows.

3) As you are moving your arms to your sides, you want to be sure that you are pinching your shoulder blades. I commonly say, "As if you are trying to hold a pencil between them," as a cue. 

4) Pull the band apart until it touches your mid-chest and then allow the band to come back to the starting position under control.

When you round the shoulders during this exercise, it allows your shoulder blades to perform a motion known as protraction. As you pull the band apart, you want to squeeze your shoulder blades together. Squeezing the shoulder blades together allows your scapula to perform a motion known as retraction. Just like the pushup form, you want to make sure you are not shrugging your shoulders toward your head while you perform the exercise. Another common mistake people make is that they are doing these too fast and not controlling the band. It is recommended to do 10-15 repetitions of this exercise.


Band Pull Apart - Palms Up

The next exercise is nearly the same as the previous one, except your palms are now facing the ceiling. 

1) To begin, grip the resistance band straight out in front of you with your palms facing upward at approximately shoulder width. Allow your shoulders to round slightly. You want your elbows completely straight in this position, with no bend in your arms. 

2) Like the prior exercise, pull the band apart by moving your hands out laterally to your sides and maintaining straight elbows.

3) Be sure to pinch the shoulder blades as you are moving your arms out to the sides.

4) Pull the band apart until it touches your mid chest and then allow the band to come back to the starting position under control.

When you perform this variation, you are allowing your shoulders to do a common motion known as external rotation, which is a function of the Teres Minor and Infraspinatus of the Rotator Cuff. Therefore, with this exercise you are not only warming up your scapulae, but you are also providing some grat rotator cuff strengthening. It is recommended to do 10-15 repetitions of this exercise. 


Band Pull Aparts - Overhead

Another band pull apart exercise I like to do is virtually the same as the top two except, instead of starting with the band straight out in front of you, it is now overhead and slightly forward. 

1) To begin, grip the resistance band with your palms facing upward or approximately shoulder width. You want your elbows completely straight in this position with no bend in your arms. 

2) Now, as I mentioned before, you want the starting position of the band to be overhead and slightly forward. 

3) Next, you will move your arms to your sides as in the prior two exercises. 

4) Be sure to be pinching your two shoulder blades together as in the prior two exercises. 

5) Pull the band apart until it touches your upper chest and then allow the band to come back to the starting position under control.     

This exercise works on a motion known as scapular depression when you are lowering the band, and scapular elevation when you are allowing it to return to the starting position. When you pull the band towards your body, you are activating a muscle known as the lower trapezius, which is often overlooked in training. This muscle being deficient can cause the scapula to move abnormally and lead to problems. Like before, it is recommended to do 10-15 repetitions of this exercise. 


No Money - Palms Up

This next exercise is known commonly as the "No Money" exercise. It focuses on a shoulder motion known as external rotation that most people are weak with.

1) To begin, bend your arms so that they are both making a 90-degree angle. 

2) Now grab the resistance band with your palms facing up.

3) Rotate your hands outward, away from each other, while you pinch your shoulder blades together and down. Be sure to maintain contact with your elbows to your body.

4) Then allow the band to come back to the starting position under control. 

If you are doing this exercise correctly, you will feel tiny muscles burning in the back of your shoulders and shoulder blades. A common mistake is that as a person fatigues, their elbows are not against their body. Be sure to keep them in contact with your sides for maximum activation of the proper muscles. It is recommended to do 10-15 repetitions of this exercise. 


Shoulder External Rotation with Band

This is an isolation exercise that targets the same area that was being worked in the previous exercise; however, instead of both arms working at once, you will work one at a time. 

1) To start, anchor a resistance band by either closing it in a door or by tying it to something stable. 

2) To strengthen the right arm. your left side will be facing the end of the band anchored. You will be gripping the band in your right hand. 

3) For the starting position, your right arm should be across your body.

4) Next, you will move your right arm out to the side like you did in the prior exercise, maintaining your right elbow touching your side.

5) Then allow the band to come back to the starting position under control.

6) After you complete 10-15 repetitions, switch the band to the other hand and complete the same steps. 


Shoulder Internal Rotation with Band

This is another great isolation exercise; however, you are doing the opposite motion of the prior exericse.

1) To start, anchor a resistance band by either closing it in a door or by tying it to something stable. 

2) To strengthen the right arm, your right side will be facing the end of the band anchored. You will be gripping the band in your right hand with it. 

3) For the starting position, your right hand should be directly in front of you, gripping the band.

4) Next, you will move your right arm toward the inside of your torso with the arm across your body.

5) Then allow the band to come back to the starting position under control. 

6) After you complete a set of 10-15 repetitions, switch the band to the other hand and complete the same steps. 

Internal rotation is another action completed by the rotator cuff muscle Subscapularis; therefore, I like this exercise to get that muscle engaged and warmed up.


Serratus Pushups 

The final exercise that I recommend for people to warm up with is known as a Serratus Pushup. This exercise is done by maintaining the same optimal pushup form I went over earlier, but there is a slight variation to include the Serratus Anterior, which is often an overlooked muscle. its primary function is to help the scapula maintain an optimal position during movement. If this muscle is not properly included in your training regimen, it can lead to a condition known as scapular winging. 

1) To begin, go into the correct pushup position as before.

2) While you descend to the ground, pinch your shoulder blades together. 

3) As you press to the top of the pushup, allow your shoulder blades to separate and allow your shoulders to round forward. 

4) Complete this for 10 repetitions. 

This exercise does not only warm up your serratus anterior muscles, but it also allows your chest and other bench press muscles to warm up. If this exercise becomes too difficult when you include the movements  for the serratus anterior, you can start by performing this exercise on your elbows. If you do this on your elbows, be sure to still follow the correct pushup setup. 

Enjoy Your Lifting! 

 






















No comments:

Blog Archive