Bench Press Blues

Do you like to bench press?  It is a great chest exercise…Right?  It’s certainly a good exercise but there are exercises that are far more effective and safer for building your pectorals.   The bench press, if done correctly can be a fantastic movement for your routine.  However it does not satisfy the main function of your pectorals major. The largest chest muscle’s primary function is to move your arm horizontally across your body (horizontal shoulder abduction).  And the other main role is to internally rotate your arms.  The bench press only accommodates for latter.  So you might ask, “what can I do in place of or in addition to the bench press?”   Glad you asked. There are a number of great chest exercises one can perform.  I’d like to focus on two.

The first ones that come to mind are the dumbbell chest press and dumbbell fly.  These two killer exercises use a greater range of motion and allow for the arms (and chest) to independently balance out.    Whereas the bench press can be thrown off due to an unbalanced physique (one side of the body is stronger than the other) causing the dominate side to take the brunt of the load.  This will only potentiate your imbalances. The dumbbell press and fly will add to your symmetry and build better coordination.   These two exercises satisfy the biomechanical functions of your chest muscles.  Furthermore, holding two independent dumbbells will tax your stabilizing muscles within your chest and shoulders.


The bench press is a great strength movement due to the heavier loads utilized and the consequential increases of testosterone and human growth hormone.  This is why some people refer to it as the “upper body squat”.    Dumbbell training typically uses less weight but allows for more movement and range of motion.

General Chest Training Tips:

1. Your shoulder blades are meant to retract while working your chest.   Try to keep them back and down during the entire motion, this will ensure you engage more muscle fibers of your chest and protect your shoulders.

2.  Minimize shoulder involvement and potential injury by ending the chest movement when your elbow joint forms a 90 degree angle.

3. Don’t worry about the weight, pay attention to form.  Drop your ego and weight and lift correctly.

4. Accentuate the negative part of the movement (eccentric) because you can lower more weight than you lift.

Doug Joachim – Joachim’s Training – Best Personal Trainer NYC

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