Is there anything better than bench pressing? Well maybe deadlifting and coffee and trail mix, but after those definitely comes bench pressing.
It's got to be the most classic lift ever in terms of strength and conditioning , but it can also be one of the most contraindicated lifts for a lot of people.
I mean don't get me wrong I am not saying that the bench press is dangerous or that there is something inherently wrong with it, but I do think that it is the wrong exercise for a lot of people especially beginners and ironically it tends to be the beginners who jump into bench pressing as an entry into strength training.
And I think the lift is especially ill-fitted for those who have a history of shoulder problems and chronic shoulder pain. It's just a lift that requires some serious mobility and strength to perform correctly and for those who already have banged up shoulders there are better options for them.
All that being said one of my favorite exercises as a substitution for the bench press in a program is the One Arm Bottoms Up KB Floor Press.
I especially like this horizontal pushing exercise for those who may be coming off a shoulder injury, have had a shoulder injury, or just don't quite feel all that great after doing several sets on the bench press.
Not to mention it offers a few unique benefits for shoulder health and integrity that you just don't get with some of the more traditional pushing exercises.
And in particular I love this exercise for three reasons.
Two of which have to do with the unique position of the kettlebell.
Holding the bell with its bottom up increases the instability in the system forcing your body to have to up-regulate both the superficial and deep musculature around the joint to create stability and make up for the additional instability. This allows you to get great muscular activation without as much external load which is especially great for those who may be working through shoulder injury or pain.
On top of this increased recruitment with lighter loads the bottoms up position also forces the smaller muscles that make up the rotator cuff to work reflexively to stabilize the head of the humerus in the shoulder socket as the shoulder joint moves through flexion, extension, abduction, and adduction.
And finally Love this exercise because it incorporates a bit of grip specific work. This one is best understood from actually doing the exercise, but in order to keep the kettlebell up right in this position you really have to think about crushing the handle of the kettlebell. Your forearms will be on fire by the end of it. Also do to the concept of irradiation the contraction of your hand and forearms you'll get greater contraction out of all the muscles of your arm and shoulder.
Not to mention that it will help you build the strong, muscular chest, shoulders, and arms that we all want!
Below is a video of me demonstrating the exercise in its entirety.
Happy moving and heavy lifting!
Practical, Purposeful, Effective Training