Written by Chad Wesley Smith
By Chad Wesley Smith
Through years of heavy bench pressing and throwing the shot I often struggled with the health of my pec minors and biceps tendons. During my training for the 2011 SPF Powerstation Pro/Am, this area became particularly problematic and painful. On what would have been a PR double of 500×2 in the bench, I was struck with overwhelming pain off the chest at the beginning of the 2nd rep and I thought I had torn both pecs. Luckily for me this wasn’t the case and I was able to continue training the next week but was hampered again by the same injury at the meet. While soft tissue treatments like Active Release Therapy and Graston aided greatly in being able to continue bench pressing heavy without injury, it was strategic programming strategies utilizing board presses and reverse band presses that allowed my strength to increase while maintaining my health.
The pecs and tendons of the upper body undergo the greatest stress at chest level during the bench press, so to continue receiving a training effect and alleviate pain, stress during this portion of the lift must be reduced. This training cycle is directed at rehabbing a strained pec or reconditioning an athlete who is coming off a torn pectoral muscle.
Bands and Board Press Program
|5 Board-3×8 at 50%Reverse Band-3×8 at 50%||Reverse Band-3xAMAP at 60%||5 Board-5×7 at 55%Reverse Band-5×7 at 55%|
|4 Board-3×7 at 52.5%Reverse Band-3×7 at 52.5%||Reverse Band-3xAMAP at 60%||4 Board-5×6 at 57.5%Reverse Band-5×6 at 57.5%|
|3 Board-3×6 at 55%Reverse Band-3×6 at 55%||Reverse Band-3xAMAP at 60%||3 Board-5×5 at 60%Reverse Band-5×5 at 60%|
|2 Board-4×5 at 65%Reverse Band-4×5 at 65%||None||2 Board-4×4 at 75%Reverse Band-4×4 at 75%|
|1 Board-3×4 at 75%Reverse Band-3×4 at 75%||None||1 Board-3×3 at 80%Reverse Band-3×3 at 80%|
|Bench-2×3 at 85%Reverse Band-2×3 at 85%||None||Bench-90%xAMAPReverse Band-90%xAMAP|
The first 3 weeks of this program is geared towards high frequency, high volume training, with the Day 2 training focused on flushing blood into the injured muscles and improve special endurance. On Day 2 you should take rest periods that will allow you to match the reps from the 1st set in the 2nd and 3rd, this will vary from about 6 to 10 minutes depending on the strength and fitness of the athlete.
Selection of the bands to utilize during reverse band presses are critical. For an athlete with a bench under 205 pounds-use Mini bands; bench 205 to 275 use Monster Mini bands; 285 to 365 use Light bands, 370 to 495 use Average bands; over 500 pounds use Strong bands.
The percentages in this plan are based off of your 1rm previous to your injury. If you do not know your max in the reverse band press, an easy way to find it is to add 15-20% to your bench press 1rm, an athlete with a strong lockout should tend towards the higher end of that range.
Another important aspect of this program and rehabbing any soft tissue injury is receiving therapy from a qualified professional. After your primary bench training days it is critical that you receive some sort of massage work. If you don’t have accesss to a massage therapist, Active Release or Graston practioner, you can do an ice massage on yourself. To do an ice massage, fill a paper Dixie cup with water and freeze it. Peel a bit of the cup back and massage the injured area with it. As the ice begins to melt, you will just continue to peel away the cup and massage the affected area, until you have no ice remaining.
Training on boards and with reverse bands will provide the primary muscles of the bench press with great stimulation but will alleviate stress on the tendons of the bicep and shoulders. This simple program will certainly allow you to regain strength in your bench press while providing your pec and tendon health to improve.
For more great articles on training, nutrition and recovery keep checking JTSstrength.com.