The Best Bench Press Warm Up
Marc Lavallee has trained Canadian military units in the Search and Rescue Technician (SAR-Tech) program along with members in their active duty and selection phases. He currently coaches for a policing agency. In this blog, Marc guides you through a comprehensive warm up routine to help you crush your current bench press PR while staying injury-free.
Change the Way You Train
4 Keys to an Optimal Bench Press
The problem with this lack of warm up is that it can limit your longevity in the weight room, especially when it comes to barbell movements. Without a proper warm up, you’re essentially beating up your joints and muscle tissues.
The barbell bench press can wreak havoc on your shoulders over time.
I see many programs include a ton of scapular-focused primer movements, but that’s only hitting one piece of a well-rounded warm up. For an injury-free bench press, you need a 3D approach to your warm up that includes thoracic mobility, scapula activation, internal rotation inhibition, and external rotation activation.
Improve Your Thoracic Mobility
Once you’ve determined your thoracic limitations/restrictions, add the necessary exercises to your warmup in order to get those tissues mobile. If your thoracic extension could use some work, get a foam roller and actively move through extension and flexion with the roller on your upper back.
If you need help with thoracic rotation, try the thread-the-needle movement. Position yourself into a quadruped (all fours) position and “thread” one arm under your body and across/past your other arm. Repeat this motion on the other side.
Activate Your Scapula
Some common examples of scapular-dominant movements are band pull-aparts, face pulls, scap push-ups, and YTW stretch.
Inhibit Internal Rotation
To accomplish this, you need to do more than just stretch your chest/pecs. What other muscles are involved in internally rotating your shoulders? That’s right, your lats.
There’s a number of ways you can stretch your lats. I suggest picking a few of your favorites and holding them for 3-4 deep breaths.
Activate External Rotation
You can activate these muscles with cables, bands, and/or dumbbells from seated or standing positions.
Remember: your warm up should be fluid and written with a pencil, not a pen. I say this because you don’t want to be following the same warm up routine forever. Your warm up should change with your workout and with any injury concerns or sticky tissues.
I recommend periodically getting assessed to see if you need any different exercises or modifications.
Increasing blood flow and adequately warming up your ligaments is the best way to reduce injury, prime your muscles to lift more weight, and hit new PRs. The next time your workout includes the bench press, try this comprehensive warm up method and see how your session goes.
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