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It’s Time You Ditch The Barbell Bench Press

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8 months ago #1
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Here are some reasons to give up bench pressing.

The barbell bench press is one of the most popular exercises. “How much do you bench?” is casually thrown around in gyms around the world. The bench press has been the symbol of strength for a long time. Think of it as the mile for the runner. It is like your athletic calling card for respect as other lifters compare against their own to see how much stronger, or weaker, they are than you. A real test of strength and will, this lift requires the utmost dedication to get that thing off the rack so you can lift real weight.

The barbell bench press is a compound movement which incorporates multiple muscle groups. If you’re not careful while performing the bench press, it can cause more harm than good. And for those us who take our gains seriously, that we just can’t have. Knowing the right approaches and how best to tackle all of our goals can greatly enhance our gains. And as much we love the bench press, it is time to look for alternative chest exercises.

Let’s jump into why you should replace the barbell bench press with something else. As much as you might be against it, there are real reasons why this should not longer be in your routine. At least for now.

Reasons To Ditch The Barbell Bench Press
While we know you all love to bench, here are some of the top reasons to ditch it, at least for now, as you progress on this journey for great gains.

1. Plateau
When a person starts working out, the bench press is one of the first exercise to learn. Most people are too loyal to this exercise and always have a variation of it in their workouts. Performing the same exercises in every workout can cause you to hit a plateau (1). Essentially, your muscle growth stalls.

If you’ve been benching for a long time but don’t see any progress in your pecs, you might have hit a plateau. If this is the case, you need to switch up your training and perform new exercises to shock your muscles, break that plateau, and get back to seeing gains again.

2. Building Muscle
The bench press is a functional movement and is arguably not the best chest building exercise. Squats, deadlifts, and bench press are a staple in a powerlifter’s training routine. People training to build muscle mass can do better by avoiding the bench press.

Powerlifters, strongmen, and weightlifters perform the bench press to build strength so they could perform explosive movements. On the other hand, bodybuilders need exercises which recruit and train the pectoral muscles to build size. If this exercise isn’t going to do that for you, then leave it to the side.

3. Injuries
A majority of injuries caused inside the gym could be credited to the bench press. Pec tear is the most common injury caused due to bench pressing (2). If you have chest, shoulder, or back injuries, you should stay away from this exercise.

If you have any of the injuries mentioned above, instead of giving up training your pecs, you should work around your injuries by performing other exercises. Using training equipment like slingshots, elbow sleeves, and others can be an aid in working out while you’re injured, as well as preventing future injuries.

4. Targeting the Pectoral Muscles
You have a strict range of motion while performing the bench press which can limit the muscle fiber recruitment in your chest. Exercises using the dumbbells, machines, or cables can help you target your pecs more efficiently.

Some people have a hard time performing the bench press and establishing a mind-muscle connection. These people end up recruiting their triceps and other supporting muscles. Exercises using the dumbbells and cables can help you in targeting your chest from different angles.

5. Training to Failure
Training to failure on the bench press can be a dangerous thing. The internet is full of videos of people dropping the barbell on their chests and necks. You certainly don’t want to find yourself in this situation. If you’re going for a PR on the bench press, it is suggested you ask someone for a spot.

A spotter not only works to protect you against injury but can also be a motivator as you look to see the best gains. On the other hand, going for failure while training with dumbbells, cables, or machines is relatively less risky and will still produce worthwhile gains.

Dumbbell Bench Press As An Effective Alternative Exercise
For those looking to still put on muscle while looking to fix the above mentioned issues with the barbell bench press, looking to a great exercise in the dumbbell bench press can prove to be a highly effective alternative to your chest building goals. By working to alleviate those problems with the barbell bench press, switching it up and performing exercises with dumbbells can prove to be very helpful in the long run.

How Dumbbells Work For You
Dumbbells are great tools for they work for your benefit in a number of ways. They can work on support and stabilization by activating your core during certain movements. Also, for those rehabbing an injury, or trying to prevent one, dumbbells give you more flexibility with weight options so you can tailor your workouts to your specific needs.

As bodybuilders, we are always seeking to better our physiques and provide for symmetrical aesthetics. Using dumbbells can work to fix any muscle imbalance that may arise as you look to give yourself that shredded and toned physique come competition time (3).

Wrap Up
The barbell bench press is one of those exercises that everyone loves. But it may not be doing exactly what you want. There are too many flaws with this exercise to keep it in your routine and working with other exercises will make you want to ditch the barbell bench press so you see only the best gains. Work on putting this into your routine and see what this exercise can do for you today.

References:
Frontiers (2016). “Overcome strength-training plateau with accentuated eccentric loading”.
Bengtsson, V.; et al. (2018). “Narrative review of injuries in powerlifting with special reference to their association to the squat, bench press and deadlift”.
Kim, T.; et al. (2015). “Effects of specific muscle imbalance improvement training on the balance ability in elite fencers”.

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