Chest Press Mechanics

Want to improve your chest pressing mechanics and learn how to generate more power in your lift? Add a mini band looped at your wrist during dumbbell presses to utilize an eccentric induced co-contraction. This will help you to achieve maximal reciprocal inhibition during the concentric or lifting phase of presses.

Reciprocal inhibition is the process by which, when one muscle contracts, the opposing muscle relaxes to accommodate its movement. During a chest press, while the chest muscles contract to move the weight, the back muscles relax for greater mobility. In doing this variation, however, you will be activating your upper back and lats to produce a maximal co-contraction of agonist (prime movers) and antagonist (muscles that perform the opposite action of the prime mover) muscle groups during the eccentric or lowering phase.

This pulling the weight or rowing it into position via the upper back and lats helps elongate the pectoral fibers and opens the chest. It promotes optimal reciprocal inhibition during the concentric or lifting phase when those antagonists (upper back and lats) release and allow the agonists (chest, shoulders, and triceps) to contract.

This slingshot type effect will teach you the mechanics necessary to produce the highest levels of power output, force, and torque during the press. This variation also helps to teach the optimal elbow positioning. Once you have a handle on the sensations of back muscle engagement during pressing, you will see a carryover into your bench press as well.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

By Jennifer Knutson

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