Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Change up and improve your Bench Press with this exercise...

Exercise Focus - The Lying Pin Press

From Team Aegis Trainers

There are a few exercises that can be seen done by just everyone in your local health club, and top of that list is probably the bench press. The bench is generally the first exercise people tend to gravitate towards when they begin their routines and not without good reason - its the number one movement for building strength in the upper body, in the main concentrating on the pectorals and the triceps.
However, something we also see with bench pressing is poor technique and sloppy exercise execution. Many of these mistakes are habitual, refined over years of practicing with poor movements. They are often central to people failing to progress in the lift and may also have a bearing shoulder injuries, which can often be related back to poor technique and weakness in stabilising muscles.

When it comes to injury prevention, it is equivocal whether a certain exercise is actually bad for you. In fact it is more a case of whether YOU are bad for that exercise. Many people can do dips, deep benching, and behind neck presses for years without ever suffering from shoulder problems, and it is more down to individual biomechanics and exercise performance when considering injury potential. The bench press can be performed in many different variations, some of which are far more likely to lead to shoulder issues than others. That is why we favour exercises such as the Pin Press, which has some key benefits listed below:

1. Pin Presses limit the range of shoulder extension and internal rotation, and when performed as outlined below they also reduce the amount of abduction. These three factors significantly ease the strain on the shoulder by placing it in a lower risk position for injury.

2. Pin Presses teach the importance of a strong scapula position during pressing

3. The bar starts from the bottom part of the lift, without momentum, which creates less reliance on elastic reaction from the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the shoulder and instead places more emphasis on generating muscle activity and overcoming inertia. There is in essence a strong isometric action at the start of the lift as the muscles struggle to overcome the inertia of a heavy bar.

4. The movement strengthens the lockout portion of the lift primarily

5. The exercise concentrates the effort on the triceps and pectorals, without any lower body assistance

6. As it is performed in a power rack, it allows heavy weights to be used as the pins increase the safety of the exercise and remove the need for a spotter overhead.

7. Increases confidence handling heavy weights in the bench press

8. Provides an active 'change/rest' for the shoulder from deep pressing movements.

9. Ideal for rest/pause techniques such as cluster training - a favourite of ours!

So, hopefully by now we have convinced you that it might be worth giving the pin press a try in your next upper body routine as a break from the conventional style of bench pressing. Let's now take a look at our technical advice for it along with a small video.

- Begin supine on the floor in the power rack. The pins can be set at whichever height you choose to work from, a higher position will obviously concentrate the effort more on the triceps and the lockout phase of the movement.

- Legs should be straight out in front with shoulder blades retracted and held tight to the floor

- Take a grip on the bar a couple of inches out from where the knurling begins on the bar. This will be wider than for a normal close grip press, but probably narrower than a lot of you are used to using.

- Take a deep breath, and keeping the shoulders locked in tight, drive the bar upwards to lockout

- Lower under control to the pins, allow the bar to come to a dead stop, reset and repeat for the desired number of reps. (we tend to favour lower reps on this exercise - between 3 - 6 seems to work well)

check out the video below to see the lift in action. Remember, please feel free to post comments or questions to us at

Pin Press from Team Aegis on Vimeo.

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