The bench press is one of the most popular chest-building exercises of many bodybuilders, athletes and every-day gym goers, with a by-product of supplying incredible upper body strength.
With this in mind, it’s easy to imagine why your surrounding upper-body muscles need to be able to support the movement – to in fact gain more strength!
Unfortunately, it’s a common occurrence for people to suffer from wobbly-arm whilst bench pressing and lacks sudden power, requiring your spotter to jump into re-rack the bar.
One reason for this apart from possibly loading too much weight (and a significant one at that!) could lie in the weakness in a very small, but very important muscle called the rear deltoid.
The Rear Deltoid
The rear/posterior deltoid is a small stabilizing muscle accompanying the anterior and medial deltoid’s.
Whilst performing the bench press, this muscle prevents the shoulder from rotating forwards whilst pressing the weight away from the chest or above the head, in addition to providing stability during exercises like lat-pull downs. Therefore it’s important to strengthen this smaller muscle for a bigger impact during training!
For example, the reason behind the arm-wobble dance during the bench press is the inability of the rear deltoids to prevent this rotation in the shoulders.
So…How can this be fixed?
Resistance bands are a great way to increase strength and stability, due to the ability to train at angles that weights can’t!
Here are a few exercises you can utilize to help improve Rear Deltoid stability and therefore helping to improve your bench-press.
1) Resistance band back flies
a) Position bands around a post or any secure point e.g. under your feet
b) Pull the bands outwards until the arms are straight out, returning to starting position.
c) For a greater challenge, you can hold the arms out straight for 4-10 seconds or return to the starting position using a count of 4 seconds.
2) 90-degree rotations
a) As with the back flies secure the band around a post
b) Holding the elbow at shoulder height rotate the arm so the fist is pointing to the sky. Then return to the starting position.
c) For a greater challenge, you can hold the fist in the pointing up position for 4-10 seconds or return to the starting position using a count of 4 seconds.
3) Rear deltoid rows
a) Stand on the resistance bands and bend over at a 90-degree angle
b) Slowly pull the bands up allowing the elbows to move outwards (If you keep the elbows in you will target the rhomboid muscles in the upper back)
c) Return slowly to the starting position then repeat.
d) For a greater challenge, you can hold the band at the top of the movement position for 4-10 seconds or return to the starting position using a count of 4 seconds.
4) Rear deltoid one arm flyes
a) Hold the handles of the band and step right foot onto center of the band on the floor.
b) Keeping left arm long, pull the handle of your left arm up over the left shoulder. Slowly lower back. Repeat for the desired number of reps and switch sides.
c) For a greater challenge, you can hold the band at the top of the movement position for 4-10 seconds or return to the starting position using a count of 4 seconds
Take Home Message
Give these exercises a try and you will notice an improvement in the shoulder stability during your bench press leading to a higher max!