Within the past school year, I have learned many new and, sometimes, damaging lifting habits. Fortunately, I have also gained more insight in how to correct these dangerous habits and I wish to share them with you.
For my first article back, I want to update everyone on my new chest routine. This article basically dispels the wrongful teachings of my last article.
In my last chest article, I was adamantly opposed to the bench press, for I believed that the bench press was overrated, and involved too much shoulder.
Furthermore, of all the people I have seen performing the bench press, only handfuls have mastered the perfect form desired.
Novice lifters, even some advanced, tend to push the philosophy of quantity over quality. Their form is horrible, but that's all right - they can lift a lot! Nonetheless, I want you to forget what I wrote in my last article because I have now become an ardent believer in the bench press and am sorry for even writing about what a horrible exercise it was!
A Change In Environment
Yes, my chest had achieved a better form than most lifters, but it lacked something. That something was size. I liked the shape and all, but it would just never 'come out'. I searched for more exercises, but I was already doing all of them except the bench press.
I chose to vary my grip, my form, and even my poundage - yet nothing worked and my chest growth plateaued (remained stagnant).
| What's A Plateau?
A level of attainment or achievement in weight loss or bodybuilding where one gets "stuck in a rut", barring further progress or noticable results. As obvious as it may seem, if you continue to do the same thing, you will continue to get the same results. Click here for tips on breaking through plateaus.
More towards the end of the year, I decided to try out the Smith Machine bench press. I thought 'what the hell, what have I got to lose?' After my first run-in with the Smith Machine press - wow! My chest was pumped, blood was rushing everywhere, and my chest looked huge!
The next day, inevitably, my chest was sore like no other! My friends kept asking my why I chose to do bench press on the Smith Machine and not on free weights and I gave them the explanation that it is easier to control the Smith Machine in terms of proper form. I shrugged it off and kept doing my Smith Machine presses coupled with my dumbbells and flyes.
A couple months passed and my chest grew a little, while everyone else was moving up in weight and poundage. Still, I feared the bench press for its susceptibility to improper form. After one arm workout, I was jacking around waiting for one of my friends to finish up his workout when I decided to give the [free weight] bench press a shot.
I was just fooling around but being careful to exercise proper form at the same time. I did a couple sets and I truly felt great. Although it was only one exercise, my chest was pumped. This was a breakthrough - according to me, at least.
After this, I decided to begin my next chest workout with the bench press. A couple days went by, and needless to say, I was excited about beginning this new chest workout. Monday came, and I was ready!
I began my chest workout with the bench press. The first set was done with a really light weight.
I cranked out 15 reps but I really concentrated on proper form. I did another set of 15 reps and again concentrated on perfect form.
After a couple more sets, I was truly proud of what I have discovered. After working out the chest for only a month with the bench press, I have increased my size and have found an increase in striation in the area.
| What Is Striation?
Striations are the tiny grooves of muscle across major muscle groups characteristic of a well-developed body. Chest striations are expected at top level competition, as they are indicative of muscularity and low body fat.
To recap, several lessons I have learned include:
- Never neglect any exercise.
- Free weights are better than machines.
- After giving up the bench, even close-grip bench press for triceps, I noticed a loss in striation.
- Perfect form is key still to any workout.
- The bench press is a basic compound exercise that should be included in every workout.
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