Anyone who has done some strength training is probably familiar with the push pattern movement. Exercises like pushups, bench press, and overhead presses are common movements that are included in strength training programs and are also examples of the push pattern. The push pattern works the muscles of the chest, shoulders and triceps.
The push pattern has many benefits, including:
1. Develops upper body strength and muscle. Both horizontal and vertical pushing will develop muscles in the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
2. Strengthens the muscle that improves posture and helps us maintain proper thoracic tilt.
3. Strengthens the core and engages the whole body when performed properly.
4. Improves our ability to perform daily tasks and many sports activities.
5. Improves upper body strength and contributes to bone density.
Let’s look at the Bench Press as an example of the push pattern.
Approach and Position
Setup (Bench Press)
1. Focus and visualize. Think about posture and how to execute the lift.
2. Lie down flat on the bench and keep your forehead or nose in line underneath the barbell.
3. Use the rings on the Olympic bar to place your hands evenly apart.
4. Bring your feet towards your hips and squeeze the glutes.
5. Maintain the thoracic tilt. This means keeping the chest high, tightening the back, and retracting the scapula.
6. Maintain the 5 points of body contact on the bench and floor (head, shoulders, hips and both feet).
1. Take the barbell off the hooks. Inhale deeply to raise your chest while keeping the shoulders and back tight or “packed”
2. While keeping the glutes tight, use the muscles in your back to lower the bar to the chest around the mid-chest. Control is key, don’t let the weight come down too fast.
3. A tight back and tight shoulders creates stability, which will increase strength and power while reducing the chance of injury significantly.
1. After the bar touches your chest, drive the bar up back until your arms are straight. The weight should remain over the chest.
1. Lack of control with the bar on descent.
2. Not keeping the back, shoulders, core, and glutes tight.
3. Letting the bar “slam” on to chest.
4. Arching back or bringing butt off the bench.
5. Moving the head, legs, or hips.
If you have not done a bench press before in your fitness routine start with a simple push-up. If you cannot perform a push-up, start with a pushup against a wall. The list below includes different versions of the push pattern from the easiest to the most complex.
1. Modified push-up (1. Wall 2. Level bar 3. Knees or knee stand)
2. Push-up – head in neutral position, body is in line (plank position)
3. Barbell bench press
4. DB bench press
5. Incline bench press
6. DB incline bench press
7. Single arm DB bench press
8. Alternating DB bench press