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Is the bench press a functional exercise

Posted by: PFB

Q. What is your stance on the bench press as a functional exercise for athletes? I was surprised to learn that Al Vermeil doesn't prescribe the bench press because it is "non-functional". What is your opinion?

A. Personally, I'm not a big fan of the bench press. I think it is the most overrated and over-performed exercise in North America. Why do people perform it so much? Simple, because it is the upper body exercise that allows for the greatest load. Since lifters tend to be infatuated with load, it is often the choice of movements. I agree with Al, it is non-functional for most athletes. Try to think of a sport that requires you to lie on your back and press something off your chest. Still thinking? OK, maybe a grappler who is lying on his back with someone on top, but that is about it! The overhead press is a much more effective and functional upper body pushing movement. It requires abdominal, back and upper body strength whereas the bench press basically challenges the anterior deltoid and triceps. If your goal is real, functional strength, ditch the bench press for a few months and focus on overhead presses and full-range dips.

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