Protraction and the bench press

Question: Isn’t the bench press training the scapula just the same as the pushup?  Wouldn’t this hit my serratus every time I bench press? 

First off the bench press and most forms of db bench presses do not allow for movement whatsoever of the scapulae.  The scaps are pinned beneath the athlete’s body to the bench.  Typically no movement occurs.   Efficient bench press technique actually calls for retraction  and depression of the scaps.  Generally, you want to be as stabile as possible back there while benching.  Athletes can produce more power from a stabile platform, and in effect produce a bigger bench press.   Not only that, but unstable scaps during a bench press cause increase stress on the shoulder capsule and can result in disaster.  For the sake of this topic though we’re not worried about  a bigger bench press.    

We already talked recently as to proper pushup technique and the beauty of pushups hitting the serratus with protraction.  That post can be found HERE if you didn’t catch it the first time.  Again this is one of the reasons why pushups are so great.  They allow for full range of motion of the scaps to occur.  Pushups variations make up a large majority of our upper body training for our pitchers and quarterbacks.    But pushups aren’t the only option you can utilize.   In the past I have included several cable variations of protraction and presses, and more recently have implemented band scap presses, seen below.  

I make sure our athletes fully retract their shoulder blades, then fully protract and pause at the end to really activate the serratus.  It’s important to get the full range of motion on each rep. 

Band Scap Presses - Start

Band Scap Presses - Finish

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