My Favorite Exercise Combinations: Installment 4

I like benching, but making sure someone has the requisite mobility before bench pressing is muy importante!

If you or someone you know doesn’t have adequate range of motion, or lacks stability within the shoulder joint, there are a few things that you can do to make sure you hit all the correct movements.

What Happens During a Bench Press

When you bench press properly, you will inevitably have to pin your scaps together and back – it just makes for a more efficient movement, and not to mention a bigger base of support during the movement with which your arms (ie: whole body) can move and produce force.

There are a few things that must occur in your body to appropriately bench press, whether it is a barbell or dumbbells:

  1. Scapulae must be pinned together (if you have a more stable and bigger base of support, the more weight you can hypothetically put up in the bench)
  2. Slight rib flare (anyone who says they bench press 2x bodyweight without a rib flare of any sort is lying… or has an extremely small wingspan).
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If you’re constantly bench pressing, or if you find yourself having discomfort during the bench press, you may need more mobility in some areas, and stability in others. 

However, this shouldn’t stop you from benching! Keep these points in mind:

  • Perform a bench press variation that allows your humerus to stop after a certain range of motion.
  • For example, a DB Floor Press still allows you to improve and increase strength, despite a smaller range of motion.
  • It also increases proprioception to where your arms are in space, and the movement stops when your triceps hit the ground.

Even if the muscles surrounding your shoulder girdle and scapulae are limiting range of motion, the overarching concept here is… 

…can you dissociate humerus vs scapular (and even thoracic flexion) movement from one another?

If you attempt to bench press massive amounts of weight, and all you do is protract and abduct your scapula off the back of your ribs as you bench, you may not be doing it properly.

So hopefully that should prove a point that you will need to keep your scaps back and down in order to effectively bench press.

Now, in order to create a juxtaposition in terms of how your scapulae move, there have been many suggestions in the past for improving mobility in between sets of upper body movements.

1. You can perform a rowing motion of some sort.

2. You can perform a thoracic rotation movement of some sort.

3. You can perform a scapular dissociation movement of some sort (like a serratus wall slide for example).

At the end of the day, I’m looking for a big bang exercise to improve all of these items at once, and to reinforce variable movement qualities. Essentially, I’m looking for appropriate scapular movement, abdominal recruitment, and even reinforce all of the above with hip mobility and stability.

Crawling and creeping are two awesome ways to improve scapular motion, rib motion, oblique recruitment, and overall make yourself seem like a ninja.

What Occurs When You Creep

Creeping is an exercise that alternates the scapulae as you creep from arm to arm. Not only do you creep, you also move ribs, recruit obliques, and utilize hip external rotators and aim to incorporate holistic movement, as opposed to a singular movement.

So what better way to get strong and get mobile than to combine the two!

Now, per our other combinations, let’s improve what mobility we currently have, and then reinforce and reload that with a weighted exercise, such as the bench press.

You can do it in any manner you want, but this is what I find to be the most effective manner with which to progress for movement variability, a quality that is necessary for up and coming athletes.

A1. Forward Creeping – 3×10 Yards

A2. 1-Arm DB Floor Press – 3×5/side

Perform a creeping motion in order to restore and/or improve range of motion, and then perform the bench press in order to get strong and jacked.

Something to keep in mind for your next workout!

As always,

Keep it funky.