- The bench press does not have to be your sole marker of improvement.
- Bodyweight variations can be progressed and regressed to give a training effect.
- Everyone is built differently on an anatomical level.
On that note, here is a link to one of my mentors’ FREE video guide on a variety of exercises involving other upper body variations. There is an email subscription you will have to sign up in order to access the video, but that is essentially it.
Click BELOW to Access Upper Body Variations by Eric Cressey
–> Upper Body Variations <–
Going Back Into Time…
Let’s back track a few years (more than 10 years now!) to when I was first exposed to the dancing and bboy community. 14 years old, freshman in high school – had to be at the very least 120lbs soaking wet. I was stubborn enough to think I could be as good as other dancers that I admired, watching them on VHS (Mr. Wiggles, anyone?), and wondering when I will one day learn to become “good enough” to “make it”.
I saw that if you had enough creativity you could certainly develop a unique enough style, to where no one could copy you. I wanted to dive in head first to the dance scene, and of course, rise to the top, showing up in films and traveling the world.
“So, how can you get good really quick? How can you stand out amongst the crowd?” I said to myself. “What could I do differently, to get ahead of the game?”
Working out immediately came to mind. I was brought up in a military family, so it made sense to me at the time – out work everyone. I wanted to control what I could control, so I sought out all these types of movements – push-ups, jumps, handstand push-ups, and bridging. Anything to help me dance better in reality.
Back to the Future…
Fast forward those 10+ years, and look at me now. I’m still the same height, same shoe size, and surprisingly enough I am pretty sure I can wear the same t-shirts that I had from the 9th grade (I wore up a size to make up for my clear lack of it back in the day.)
But, I put on about 40lbs, and I’ve taken up powerlifting in the stead of my relatively short amateur bboying and popping career. Why you ask? Well, long story short, I was getting hurt. A lot. Injuries are no fun, especially when you are pursuing an artform involving dancing on hard floors, boomboxes, and battling for less than half of a month’s rent – with tons of good competition in your face.
So what caused this shift in mindset, from breakin to powerlifting? In reality, the mindset was caused by two things:
- Chronic injuries, due to a lack of cross-training, a lack of requisite strength, and lacking a foundational base of movement, among other things.
- With these constant injuries, I wasn’t confident enough to stick with breakin as my main modicum of movement. Heartbreaking to say the least. #sadface
- Strength training (with weights) felt restorative, and in reality helped create stability in my joints that were simply too mobile.
On that note, I can now put up a decent amount of weight on the bench press, along with having a decent ability to flow relatively well. Admittedly, I don’t consider myself a full fledged powerlifter, just someone who practices the sport. I can appreciate and respect a big heavy bench press at a powerlifting meet or in the gym. I can also appreciate supple bodyweight movement as well.
So with that being said, you have to appreciate that strength training for dancers is one aspect that is not respected enough in the bboying and the dancing community as a whole.
Last year I’ve had the opportunity to complete an internship at Cressey Performance, and personally pick Eric’s brain almost daily on the “whats” and “whys” of everything involving strength and conditioning – from the intricacies of shoulder problems, to how a specific exercise can be beneficial or not towards a specific type of athlete, to how playing fetch with Tank, CP resident dog, will help with conditioning [Insider Tip: Tank sprints when he feels like it, which isn’t much].
Fortunately for you, you don’t need to experience a few feet of snow in the winter time to learn from Eric. This short video aims to help you learn a variety of upper body exercises aimed not only for the powerlifter, but also for those who are looking to increase their movement library, along with justifications for why each exercise is unique to each individual.
After checking it out for myself, I can say that it encompasses a large majority of exercises that I wish I had discovered earlier in my dancing career. In fact, here are some of the main points I learned from watching it:
- The movement assessment should dictate the exercise selection.
- Despite this specificity, there are a lot of movements available for dancers, clients, and athletes available for use.
- Common exercises, like the push-up and bench press, should be used with specific techniques based on your movement assessment.
- It is practical enough to apply immediately in the gym on your next visit.
Eric has more awesome content coming out this week, with more practical and informative videos to go along with them. Stick around, and remember y’all…
Keep it funky.