Bench Press And Morphology

bench press morphology

I read a Frederic Delavier’s book « Strength Training Anatomy » and I learned good stuff.

I think you’ve noticed that the bench press is the most practiced exercise in a gym. And as this is the most practiced exercise, it’s also the exercise that create the most injury per year. This is why, it’s important to have basic morphology’s notions to be able to do this exercise correctly.

Arms length

bench press morphology

The majority of injuries with the bench press are muscle tears or rupture of the pectoralis major tendon (during the descent of the barbell).

The pectoralis major inserted on the humerus. As a result, during the descent of the barbell, more the arm go down and more the pectoralis major is stretched and vulnerable.

But the descent of the arm and the stretching of the pectoralis major vary from one individual to another. More the arm is long, more the humerus will go down, which causes the pectoralis major to be stretched. It’s for this reason that willowy people (a person with long body members) often have this type of injury.

Rib cage thickness

bench press morphology

More rib cage is thick and less the barbell can go down. This means a limited strech of the pectoralis major therefore less risk of injury.

It’s for this reason that the majority of great bench press champions are brevilineal type (a person with short body’s members). Having a thick rib cage and short members allow to achieve a record with a morphological safety that limits the risk of muscle tearing or rupture of pectoralis major.

Morphology has a fundamental place in sport success and it’s injuries that limit the progression. Sport progression isn’t only based on mental (mindset), diet and workout type.

It’s fundamental to adjust the training program with the morphology. Let couple things be clear : what’s good for the person next to you, is not automatically good for you.

Limit the injury risk

bench press morphology

There is a bench press variant and it’s close-grip bench press. This variant limits the arm’s descent and this reduces the pectoralis major’s stretch thus limits the injuries risks.

This variant used by bench press champions with willowy type but the disadvantages are reduced performances, triceps work more and the movement’s amplitude is more important.

There is also another variant, the partial bench press. The concept is to decrease the barbell’s descent for it doesn’t touch the chest. This avoids excessive pectoralis major’s stretching.

Muscle predominance

Depending on the muscular strength of a person, there are 2 ways to do bench press :

  • Elbows spread to make more work the pectoralis major

  • Elbows close (to close arm/chest angle) to make more work deltoids.

Regardless morphology, these techniques can be used to specifically target a muscle (elbows spread => pectoralis major or elbows close => deltoids).

Attention : for bench press, it’s necessary to adjust the technique according to the different morphologies

bench press morphology

Image A

A thin rib cage with long arms when the barbell approaches the chest during the descent dangerously stretch the pectoralis major. The risk of muscle tears or tendon rupture are increased with the weight on the barbell.

Image B

A thick rib cage with short arms when the barbell approaches the chest during the descent limits the movement’s amplitude and the pectorlis major’s stretching. It’s for this reason that there are many bench press champons with this morphology.

Share this article if you think it can help someone you know. Thank you.

-Steph

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Rupture Of The Pectoralis Major

rupture, tear, pectoralis, major, tendon

I read a Frederic Delavier’s book « Strength Training Anatomy » and I learned good stuff.

Pectoralis major begins on the anterior surface of the thoracic cage and its insertion is to the anterior surface of the upper end of the humerus.

Pectoralis major is a muscle which has the function of bringing the arm forward in front of the rib cage which make it possible to make hugs.

Bench press can create small tears at the pectoralis major which can sometimes cause a partial rupturing of its tendon (around upper chest).

This partial rupture of the tendon occurs in powerful athletes who have gained an abnormally rapid strength, which didn’t allow time for tendons to strengthen. This injury can also happen to athletes who make a « dry » diet, so a low-calories diet to better make muscles more visible. These low-calories diets weaken joints, tendons and muscles.

The wound always arrives during a bench press and affects only the clavicular head of pectoralis major.

The rupture of the tendon can be so painful that the athlete may lose consciousness. Often a tumefaction with eccymosis apprears on the anterior surface of the arm and the retraction of the clavicular head create a hollow around the upper chest.

Diagnostic error

how much

A problem that very often happens with this wound is that doctors, after diagnostic, considers it to be gravity-free. This is an understandable mistake because during the diagnostic, the injured person can make all movements related to the pectoralis major’s motor function. It’s for this reason that doctors consider this wound as a simple muscle tear rather than a ruptured tendon or a severe muscle tear.

Indeed, many muscles compensate the functional loss of clavicular head of pectoralis major to continue to move the arm. I spit of the rupture of the clavicular head of pectoralis major, it’s possible to raise the arm forward by the sternal portion (middle chest) and abdominal portion (lower chest) of the pectoralis major which also compensates.

When there is rupture of the pectoralis major, it’s necessary to have it reinserted as quickly as possible on the humerus with a surgery operation.

If not done as quickly as possible, there is retraction and fibrous transformation of the muscle. In this case, surgery is no longer feasible.

It’s true that the injured person can still move his/her arm without the upper portion of the pectoralis major but the injured person can never regain its initial strength and will be seriously handicapped to continue to do heavy bench press.

Share this article if you think it can help someone you know. Thank you.

-Steph

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Shoulder Injury (Part 1)

shoulder

I read a Frederic Delavier’s book « Strength Training Anatomy » and there is good stuff.

Shoulders injuries are frequent in bodybuilding because we want develop all deltoid muscles. To do this, we must perform a signigicant number of repetition and movements thus multiplying the risk of injury.

It’s worth remembering that, in comparison with the solid hip’s articulation where the femur head is deeply embedded in the pelvic cavity of the pelvis, shoulder’s articulation, which must be very mobile to allow arms to move in all direction, is very little embedded.

Shoulders can thus be defined as a joint to muscular fixation, the maintenance of the humerus head on the scapula’s glenoid cavity is mainly ensured by a complex musculo-tendinous ensemble.

Although in bodybuilding most injuries occur during shoulders training, it’s rare to see this muscle directly injured. The wound are generally much deeper and appear most often during a false movement or after a long wear by friction of tendon structure reinforcing the articular capsule.

While in other sports of violent contact (such American football) or rapid arms movements (such as throwers) can result in serious injuries with dislocations and enven tendon pull. The main lesion observed is what we call subacromial bursitis.

Some people when performing elevated arm movements, such as back press or lateral raise, the supra-spinous tendon is rubbed and compressed between humerus head and osteoligamentous vault formed by the underside of the aromion and the coracoacromial ligament.

Consequence

shoulder anatomy

The result is an inflammation which generally begins with the synovial bursa, which normally protects the supra-spinous tendon from excessive friction. And it continue by the supra-spinous tendon itself and ends, if this inflammation isn’t treaed, by touching the adjacent tendons of the infraspinatus at the back and the long portion of the biceps at the front.

Arms elevation becomes extremely painful and there may be an irreversible deterioration of the supraspinatus tendon with calcification and sometimes even rutpure. The latter being observed in general only with people over 40 year old.

The space between the humerus and osteoligamentous vault can vary from one individual to another. Some athletes will not be able to lifte their arms laterally without generating excessive friction. These individuals must therefore avoid all back press, lateral raise to high and also when they train back, pulldown behind the neck.

All exercices with barbell for shoulders should be done in front of, with elbows slightly forward. With dumbbells lateral raise, the correct working angle should be sought, the right movement being the one that is realized painless.

It’s interesting to note that for the same shoulder injury all individuals don’t respond in the same way. Some people can perform all sort of arms raise, compressing and sometimes even deteriorating their tendons without ever triggering a painful inflammatory process. Thus, in the course of an examination, some people have discovered a rupture of the supra-spinous muscle’s tendon without ever having complained of any pain.

Another cause of shoulder pain may be due to an imbalance in the distribution of muscle tension around the joint capsule. Recall that the humerus head is firmly held against the scapula’s glenoid cavity by a muscular system with tendons adhering or passing through the articular capsule. This set is composed at the front by the subscapular, a little more on the outside by the long portion of the biceps, above by the supra-spinous and finally at the back by the infraspinatus and the teres major muscle. Spasm, hypertonicity or, on the contrary, a lack of tonicity of one or more of these muscles, can lead to a bad position of the shoulder joint. This bad position will be the cause, during the movements of the arm, of friction likely to generate inflammatory pathologies.

Exemple : A contracture or a spasm of the teres major muscle and infraspinatus will cause an external rotation of the humerus head which will generate during the movements of the arm, friction in the front of the shoulder joint. And with the time can injure the tendon of the long portion of the brachial biceps.

It will therefore be necessary to ensure to train in a balanced way all the muscles of the shoulder avoiding all the exercices where one will feel a discomfort, a pain or a friction.

Note : Hand massage or better with a vibrator, as well as electostimulation, give very good results to diminish and eliminate spasms and contractures of teres major muscle and infraspinatus.

-Steph

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