Dumbbell or Barbell Bench Press for Baseball

Here’s a great question I received today from a high school coach.  I get questions like this a lot so I thought I’d share with all of you. 

I know that your pitchers are primarily one-position players, but if you had a pitcher that plays multiple positions for you when he wasn’t pitching, would you say it was okay for them to do the standard bar lifts like bench, or would you have them strictly DB Bench?  (Most of my pitchers are my best athletes, and they will be playing other positions in the field when they aren’t pitching.)
I really have no problems with anybody using the bar to bench press if they have no restictions, no pain, and provided that they are taught the correct technique with the movement.  Always make sure they touch the bar low on the chest, with elbows at around 45 deg.  Big problems come by elbows flared, touching the clavicles with the bar.  With that being said I think DB’s are always safer option if you had to pick one.  Athletes can work in a more natural movement pattern.  The depth they achieve can also be individualized.  Some players may not be able to go as deep as others without pain.  They also greatly increase stabilizer activation.  You really can’t go wrong with DB’s.  You could always alternate between DB and Barbell work so they’re getting the stimulus of both.  You could do 3 weeks of barbell work and 1 week of DB work, or vice versa.  This all depends upon how your program is set up.  Another thing, pushups are one of our main upper body movements with all of our players.  They’re great not only for shoulder stability, torso strength, and upper body strength but awesome for scap stabilization if done correctly.  Don’t limit yourself in thinking your athletes have to do some form of bench press.  Pushups should really be a primary focus for younger athletes in my opinion.  Just remember that too much pressing, whether barbell or DB, can cause shoulder issues down the road and make sure to even it up with lots of scap and pulling work. 

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