Today’s strength work is the bench press, and I came across a recent post on 70sBig.com that I wanted to share with you all in hopes of improving your bench press. It has to do with our latissimus dorsi, commonly referred to as our lats, and why their involvement in the bench press is important, but also how their role may be misunderstood. Marcus posted some helpful videos last year that featured Starting Strength coach Mark Rippetoe (a.k.a. Rip) going over the basic setup for the bench press. Oftentimes I teach the bench press in a way similar to Rip since we adopted his teaching methodology after attending one of his last CrossFit Barbell Certifications in 2009. One cue that I like to add just before lifting the bar off of the rack is for the lifter to squeeze their lats. Sometimes I receive a confused look from the lifter either because they aren’t sure what their lats are or lack the body awareness to properly activate them, or because they aren’t sure why I’m having them engage “back” muscles on a lift that is predominantly “chest”. Instead of the traditional bodybuilding perspective of classifying lifts by the major muscle groups they engage, let’s instead approach it from a more scientific angle by the articulations (joints) involved and the movement occuring at those joints. This approach will make it a bit easier to understand why the lats (the muscles pictured above that get crazy sore after lots of pullups) can help us improve our bench press.
Here’s a quick summary of Justin’s post:
This recap is just a snapshot summary of Justin’s entire post on the 70sBig website. He goes into more detail and does a really excellent job covering the topic, so be sure to read it over as well as the other humorous/informative posts on the site. Hopefully you now understand why stronger lats and ability to keep tension around the shoulder helps improve your bench press. If you are still confused or have questions what this looks like, ask your coach today when they review the bench press with your group.
Bench Press 3×5 or Wendler
Partner Tabata (8 Rounds Each of 30 seconds of work, 30 seconds of rest, alternating):
Suicide Shuttle Runs