The results of a new study, revealed by Tracey Romero on Philly.com, suggest that the bench press could be putting too much unnecessary stress on the upper body. Romero says that “labral and pectoral tears, symptoms of shoulder impingement and biceps tendonitis are on a short list of injuries caused by the bench press”.
As someone who frequents the bench press when I workout at home, this study is a mild concern for me, as it might be for you. The article continues with commentary from John Herting, who is a physical therapist, and he told Philly.com that “not everyone is prepared to perform the move and that many do not have the prerequisite mobility, strength and stability to keep the shoulders positioned correctly”.
Herting, however, does say that the bench press should not be taken out of everyone’s workout routine—this is good news for me and possibly you. But, if you are swearing off the bench press, there are two exercises that I recommend doing as replacements.
The first exercise that I recommend is push-ups. The old-fashioned push-up is an exercise that I have found increases the strength in my shoulders. Not to mention, it also helps to increase the definition in your upper-body—if you care about that. In my opinion, push-ups are a fairly simple exercise, but I understand that they can pose a problem for some people.
If you remember back when I wrote the blog about exercising when on vacation, I linked you to a video from celebrity chef Robert Irvine and he said that if you have trouble with regular push-up form you can use your knees for momentum. I recommend that everyone try “regular push-up form” to start, but if you are having trouble, use your knees.
Another exercise that can be employed is the old-fashioned pull-up. Now, while I can’t sugar-coat this one because it is a tough exercise, it can be done if you have the motivation and perseverance to keep trying. First, you have to buy some type of fitness bar and I use something known as the “Iron Gym”, it is something that I have recently added to my workouts.
When I use the wide-grip position, it mimics the bench press workout and it could even bring out your back muscles or “lats”. Please note that the “Iron Gym” should be used on a strong door frame. I have not had any issues, but I suppose anything could happen, so I would not use it on a door frame you know is weak.
In closing, I don’t think that you have to stress about doing bench-press exercises, but if you are concerned, I have mentioned two alternatives that could help you develop the upper body strength that the bench press helps to develop.