Gym equipment has evolved greatly over the last 50 years. Improvements in scientific research, ergonomics, build quality and the manufacturing processes have impacted greatly on the way gym equipment looks and works. Take a look at any piece of kit from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s and you’ll see how much it’s changed. Everything that is, apart from the weights bench.
First off let me set this straight from the outset. Is there anything wrong with using a bench? No. Does it need to change? Probably not. There is however, a few issues with bench width and biomechanics during typical chest exercises that I want to make you aware of.
The average bench is about 10 inches wide. Which is great for support and stability when lying supine on it. What this actually does is force and hold your scapula forward so it can’t move optimally when performing chest flyes, or chest presses. This can stress the glenohumeral joint (shoulder) and actually shift a lot of work into the front delts. During exercises such as press-ups this is never a problem because your scapula is free to move how it wants. A simple remedy to this problem is to incorporate some chest exercises performed on a long 90cm foam roller. Because the roller is much slimmer than a bench it allows for more range in the scapula. In turn this means a greater stretch and recruitment of the pec muscles. As an added bonus it’s also pretty hellish on the core.
Try finishing your next chest session with this chest flye exercise. The pec stretch you’ll feel is incredible and don’t be surprised if you have to lower your weights to complete the desired number of reps.
Remember the weights bench is not evil, it just has it’s draw backs you should be aware of.