The case for the chest press

 

The chest press is a vital compound movement that should be incorporated into every weight training regime. Whether you are using a barbell, dumbbells or a machine chest-press, the basis for the movement is essentially the same – a push is a push.

Not just for men

The chest, along with the arms, are a both favourite muscles for men to work on. By comparison, women tend to avoid the chest press, fearing it may develop too much of a masculine physique. This isn’t the case. The chest push should be an integral part of everyone’s training regimen, whether male or female, young or not so young, because this is a fundamental compound movement, part of the very nature of natural movement. Everyone should be able to execute it correctly.

The secret to mastering ‘the push’

It is vital that you only push when your shoulder is in a strong position. This is achieved when you create a slight tension in the upper back by bringing your shoulder blades together. Then, rather than just pushing your arms forward, aim to bring your elbows across your body in a slight arc, trying to get them to touch. On the way back down, make sure you sink your shoulders back to maintain tension in your upper back muscles. By creating tension in your musculature your muscles take the stress of the movement, not your ligaments.

Whether using dumb bells, barbells or machines this is the correct technique of a horizontal push, though of course the arc movement can be most extreme in the case of dumb bells.

When executing a chest press it is vital to ensure your shoulder is correctly positioned. A common mistake is to have the shoulder in “a soft position”. This can lead to pushing primarily through the shoulder tendons, rather than using the muscles, which longer term will lead to shoulder injuries and other impingements, all of which are avoidable and pose unnecessary risks.

The importance of fundamental compound movements

Fundamental compound movements should be part of every training program because these are movement patterns used throughout our daily lives. By practising and improving these movements, on a consistent basis, life will be that bit easier, whatever your age.

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Alex is a registered Master Trainer and Nutritional Advisor with Level 4 qualifications in obesity and diabetes. He is also a strength specialist and a Ni Dan in Shotokan Karate.

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