FitChicksClub Kiama is back in the groove of a regular training with a Program I’ve called Back to Basics. There’s only 4 exercises involved but they are four of the most important and useful in the Kiama Women’s Fitness repertoire.
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Incline Bench Press
The Incline Bench Press is one of the main exercises for working the upper chest. Some people have a hard time getting results from this exercise…often getting tired triceps and sore shoulders. The good news is, there is an easy solution if you just make one simple adjustment to the setup before you perform the lift.
One problem I’ve encountered with clients over the years is the tendency for the chest and rib cage to flatten out during the exercise, which takes the tension off the chest and puts it on the shoulders and triceps instead.
In order for the chest muscles to work efficiently to get a good contraction, the shoulder blades need to be pulled together at the back to keep the chest/rib cage expanded.
To help you get that right…grip the bar and pull your torso just slightly UP off the bench like you’re doing a pull-up. When your torso is up off the bench, pull your shoulder blades together behind your back (just like with a row), puff and expand your rib cage up to meet the bar, then set your torso back down on the bench. You’ll notice how different it feels with your shoulders back and your chest tighter.
Any sort of bench press is NOT just a chest and triceps movement. When performed corectly it is full-body in nature. The idea of ‘getting tight’ involves being completely rigid before the bar is even unhooked.We have already covered the upper body tightness by setting the shoulder blades but what about the lower body? How do you go about ‘tightening up’?
Your footwork plays a major role. If you allow your legs to merely dangle out while pressing, the amount you can lift is severely limited. When your feet are correctly set, you can utilize ‘leg drive’ to squeeze an extra rep or extra weight on each lift thus increasing strength.
There is no single ‘right’ place to set your feet. Some people like to tuck their feet underneath the bench and push off their toes while others spread their feet out wide and push off their heels.
Experiment and find what works best for you. What you ultimately want is to puff your chest up, keep your shoulder blades tight and push then your heels (or toes if that suits you) into the ground before you set off on your first rep.
Back to basics
The first few weeks of the training year can be tough stuff. After a well earned Xmas break which has usually involved less than ideal food choices and the odd bit of alcohoI, your body can be behind the eight ball right from the outset. Then, it’s as though your body forgets what even the most basic exercises and movements feel like. That’s why we have eased FitChicks back into training so far despite the high motivation that comes with this time of year.
There was a thorough Assessment process and now these past few sessions the girls have returned to a more normal routine with a Back to Basics Program covering the Squat, Trap Bar Deadlift, Neutral Grip Chin Up and Incline Bench Press. Between these four compound movements, the girls have started back with a moderate to heavy workload. This has enabled them to re-learn technique for safety and efficiency but also to develop confidence in the ability to start lifting heavy again. It’s been a while since the girls have performed these exercises after rounding out 2014 with a Bodyweight Blitz Program and also some high energy CrossFit workouts.
These chicks are setting the foundations for a big year of improvement in performance levels and physique changes. Watch this space…
The silent assassin