Thursday, June 8, 2023

Five Tips for Elevating Your Bench Press, Part Three - Joseph Locero


I enjoy going back and forth with this stuff sometimes. 
Will get back to the Chinese Weightlifting thing after this entry . . . 

The Antagonist to My Agonist: Opposing Forces for Complete Control

Let's revisit that tip about "controlling the iron" from a while back. When we are working to control the weight towards our chest to fully benefit from the elastic muscle buildup, we can only be successful if we also work the opposing muscles of our press: the back muscles. 

Whenever we perform a movement, we (for the most part) perform the lift within two phases. For the bench press, the desired aspect of the movement happens to be the ascending phase. During this phase of the movement, we are performing a concentric contraction to shorten the muscle fibers of the pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, and triceps brachii. These muscles that are performing the desired movement are also call the agonist muscles. 

Their main purposes are to oppose the agonist muscles, which help with controlling the load, and making sure that during the descending phase of the movement we lower the barbell with precision and elastic buildup to help redirect that energy into a successful lift. 

The muscles we want to target and develop in this case are the various trapezius muscle fibers (upper, lower, middle), the latissimus dorsi, the posterior deltoid, and the biceps brachii. I am sure you could argue more, but to keep it simple, let's focus on these muscle groups. 

With any program, it's important to make sure you have anatomical symmetry with these agonist and antagonist muscles to develop muscular balance for safety and increased performance. 

To better understand this, let's say the program calls for you to bench 5 sets of 5 reps - a total of 25 reps. To match this level of volume, you also want to perform 25 pulling reps to make sure the antagonist muscles are provided an opportunity for matched growth and development. 

The math on how you achieve this level of volume can vary, but in the end, you want to try your best to make sure you are provided a level of volume that can help support the agonist and antagonist muscle groups within the context of the bench press.

To add further depth, it's also important to break down the physiological aspect of the bench press to make exercise selection even more effective. 

Think about the bench press and how we discussed promoting the power position and elbow placement. What are some movements that would replicate the pressing motion in this regard? Movements such as incline chest supported rows, or using equipment that would also be relevant to the bench press, such as a straight bar attachment or a barbell, would be great ideas to consider. Both would be perform the pulling motion in the same motor pattern that would match the bench press being performed within the power position. 

One of the final thoughts regarding antagonistic training for a superior bench press would be training your biceps. Whenever you consider the movement of the bench press, you understand that the load of the movement relies heavily on the flexion and extension of the elbow joint for declaring a successful attempt. 

If you are a judge or have been judged in competition, you understand that the biggest focus of the bench press is lockout of the elbow joint. We are all aware there is much more happening during the bench press than this, but that happens to be the biggest focus especially when competing. To support the elbow joint and the extension of the bench press, we need thick and strong biceps muscles to help control the iron and support the heaviest of loads. 

Make sure to do various types of biceps movements, from various angles with various grips. One of my favorite movements is to do hammer curls to help lift heavier loads and to grow the biceps and brachialis muscle for supporting the iron on the bench. 

Note: I broke this section up pretty unevenly it seems. No worries. 
Next: Sample 8-Week Program

Enjoy Your Lifting!   


No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive