Walk into any high school weight room and the bench press is most likely going to be a huge staple in their lifting program. The bench is a great way to build upper body strength and power, but that does not mean that it is meant for everyone; especially baseball players.
The bench press is not a very shoulder friendly exercise for a couple reasons. The internally rotated grip of the bar increases the likelihood of shoulder impingement. Add that to the fact that we are locking the shoulder blades down against the bench with possibly hundreds of pounds.
Every time a baseball player throws the ball their scapula has to sufficiently upwardly rotate along the rib cage in order to keep the ball in the socket, and our upper body pressing exercises should reflect that.
Although the bench press may be perfectly safe for most athletes, the risks outweigh the rewards for a baseball player. There are better and safer alternatives for baseball players to choose from to increase their upper body strength.
Yes, for an advanced lifter push-ups can get easy pretty quickly, but they are a great alternative to the bench press because they allow for the scapula to move freely along the rib cage. However, most young athletes have a hard enough time executing a standard push-up.
Once an athlete has mastered a standard push-up there are several ways it can be progressed to make them more difficult. There are yoga push-ups, single leg variations, you can add chains or band resistance, you can elevate your feet…The possibilities are endless.
Landmine variations also allow for the scapula to move freely along the rib cage and are a great way to bridge the gap between horizontal pressing and vertical pressing. This is going to be a lot more valuable to a baseball player than the bench press.
It is important to remember that our durability is just as important if not more important than our ability. All the talent and skill in the world will mean nothing if we can’t keep ourselves on the field.
Throwing a baseball is the fastest motion in all of sports, and the shoulder can take a beating over the course of a season. We should not be compounding that in the weight room.
Gentilcore, T. (2014, February 03). Why Baseball Players Shouldn't Bench Press. Retrieved April 24, 2017, from http://www.stack.com/a/baseball-bench-press