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Friday, June 22, 2007

A Better Body in 5 Minutes

Bench More, Save Your Shoulders
By Alwyn Cosgrove, Men's Health

"One of the keys to both a bigger bench press and better shoulder health is the ability to stabilize your shoulder blades," says Bill Hartman, P.T., C.S.C.S., a physical therapist in Indianapolis. The reason: When you're able to squeeze your shoulder blades down and together and hold them that way while you bench-press you create a more stable surface from which to push the bar. This allows you to lift heavier weights while reducing the stress on your shoulder joints. Do the two exercises that follow in the order shown. Hold each movement for 10 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, then repeat until you can't maintain a 10-second hold. As you improve, increase your hold time.

Hanging Scapular Retraction

How to do it: Grab a pullup bar with an overhand grip, hands just beyond shoulder-width apart, and hang at arm's length. Without bending your elbows, squeeze your shoulder blades down and together. (Your body will rise slightly.) Hold, then rest by relaxing your muscles without letting go of the bar.

Serratus Dip

How to do it: Grab the bars of a dip station and lift your body until your arms are completely straight. Without bending your elbows, press your shoulders down as you push your torso up. Hold, then relax your muscles, which will cause your torso to lower relative to your shoulder as if you were shrugging them.


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