The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness
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The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness

It’s no secret that when people contradict themselves, it has the effect of making the flaws in their actions or statements seem glaringly obvious. But what about when WE ourselves get caught contradicting ourselves by someone else?

By: Nick Tumminello Added: January 6th, 2014
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  1. #1
    THUNDER THIGHS! Fuzzy's Avatar
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    Do footballers (and athletes in general) need to benchpress?

    Some of you may be sitting in your chairs, astounded by the title.

    How dare he defy the benchpress? welll.... why not? I mean, it seems to just get tossed into athlete programs like its part of the cake, often with no real reasoning beyond the fact thats its just the lift everyone does.

    Ladies and gentlemen, if there is one thing olympic weightlifting has taught me, is that benching, and more specifically, benching for chest is one of the most dysfunctional silly things you can do. Chest training, is just so... dumb?

    I dont like training the chest directly, as far as Im concerned benching should be done in proper powerlifting style or elbow tucked. This is simply my opinion, Im about functionality and I like snatches sitting were they are supposed to and not falling forward because my pecs are so tight. and I like my fantastic posture becuase Im not hunched over from tight pecs.

    To me the pecs have on use, stabilsing a few hundered pounds overhead. old time strongmen had massive backs and sizeable chests without doing direct work on these, overhead work causes alot of chest and upper back activation, so for the football player, the chest needs to be trained as a stabiliser in hign incline and overhead motions, not as a primary mover, the chest just has o help the upper back look after the shoulders

    So, football players, they all bench because its such a seemingly applicable lift for the linemen who need to push the crap out of someone.... but is it? In the grand scheme of things, do football players really need to bench?

    Ok, lets look at the pushing motion itsself, benching is a stationary controlled excersises, up down, chst delts and tris, the end. Right? I dont think Ive ever seen a football player stand vertical and press an opposing player. But what I have seen is players drive from down low and explode from the legs through the body right through to the core and all the way to the arms. and the good pushers push with elbows tucked, its only natural

    So in effect shouldent the wonder lift and core upper body excersise for football players be the pushpress? The pushpress seems a lot more applicable to me, push throughout the whole body, explosing upwards with a big drive by the legs.

    So, why would any footballer bench elbows flared to the chest? if any benching is done it should be closegrip with little emphasis on the chest. I said, I dont like chest training. Chest training, even with good back training does things to the upperbody that the athlete just does not need.

    But the bench shouldent even the central lift, it should be the pushpress.

    Better yet, I can not see a more applicable lifts then squat thrusts with barbell. So stat in a deep squat stand and extend into a pushpress in one motion.

    Even in an athletes centre gym, I just see the bench added in for no real reason.

    Thoughts?

    now, before anyone attacks me and says 'but bench is so important for footballers!' sit back and think for a econd, what I said makes alot of sense, and that initial impulse peeople may feel is further proof just how ingrained he bench is into sports training mentality.

    (and remember, Im talking from an sporting/functional point of view, if you want teh pecs0rZ for teh layd33z then frankly I dont give a crap)
    Being a strong teenager means nothing.

    My wrists hurt, but some people don't have wrists to be sore. My knees have tendinitis, but some people don't have legs to get tendinitis in. I seem to be going backwards with training, yet some people can't even walk let alone lift 400 pounds on a daily basis.

    Dust out the vagina, and keep on lifting.

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  3. #2
    WBB's Juggernaut/Liason BigCorey75's Avatar
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    as a former offensive lineman


    i can tell you that the bench press is an exercise that needs to be done. more directly the incline bench press because that more closley mimics the pushing motions that occur in football, but in order to strengthen these muscles to push people around is much neede


    dont believe me, try not working the chest and get out there on that field and you and some guy are even matched in lower body strength the upperbody strength will def come into play.


    when i played i was overall strong. at my strongest i was squatting 650 and benhcing 425, that squat came in great when i had to move people out of the way on running and th ebench came in good play in pass blocking, and especially finishing blocks on the run, so its def needed over all strnegth is needed


    lots of times i could just shear over power people even when my tehcnique may have slipped on a play or if i had bad positon on a play i could just use my strength to make the play
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  4. #3
    Senior Member Doobs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuzzy View Post
    So, why would any footballer bench elbows flared to the chest?
    He wouldn't if he knows what he's doing.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fuzzy View Post
    if any benching is done it should be closegrip with little emphasis on the chest.
    You're right about this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuzzy View Post
    But the bench shouldent even the central lift, it should be the pushpress.
    As an offensive lineman, when you're engaged in the block and driving your hips, you're pushing much more horizontal than vertical with your arms. To finish off the block and really pancake someone you need to get a little bit lower than them and have a strong incline-bench-type push driving them back and off the ground.

    For most other athletes, bench press is basically worthless compared to oly lifts.

  5. #4
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    A LOT of people, including Bill Starr, have written about whether FBers should bother with bench press.

    Bill Starr wrote programs with bench press in them, but there are more than a few articles that quote him and I'm pretty sure I remember a few that he said himself that nothing was more functional than an overhead press when it came to athletics.

    Fuzzy,
    You really should broaden your reading list so you don't have to come up with all this yourself - I know you like to ponder these things, but if you were reading the right things, you'd have much better fodder for your thinking.

    A list to consider:
    *Supertraining by Mel Siff
    *subscription to (back issues of) MILO
    *subscription to (back issues of) NSCA Journal
    *subscription to (back issues of) CrossFit Journal
    *Power to the People or Beyond Bodybuilding by Pavel Tsatsouline
    *Science and Practice of Strength Training by Vladmir Zatsiorsky

    Some of the above titles would be really tough reading w. no science or S&C background, but there are A TON of people online and probably at your gym that would love to talk about anything you wanted to discuss further from these books, magazines, and journals.
    A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost. -Gray Cook
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  6. #5
    Senior Member BFGUITAR's Avatar
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    Ive always wondered the practicality of the bench press... I have always noticed that the bench press was less dynamic compared to squats or deadlifts. But still, its probably the most dynamic of any upper body pushing one can do, at least I think.

  7. #6
    Wannabebig Member PHILSTER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuzzy View Post
    I mean, it seems to just get tossed into athlete programs like its part of the cake, often with no real reasoning beyond the fact thats its just the lift everyone does.
    Although I acknowledge the right for you to have your own opinion on the matter I couldn't disagree with you more. Flat Bench Press is "thrown in there" so to speak due to the fact that it is a very important exercise. Just because it's extremely popular with the curl jockies as well as experienced lifters doesn't mean that it's a wastefull exercise. If every novice lifter in the world did deadlifts and squats and ignored the bench press would you feel the same way? All in all it's simply another important piece to the full body workout puzzle. Whether you're a football player or not shouldn't really have all that much bearing on the matter IMO at least.

  8. #7
    Do that voodoo that he do
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    Fuzzy,

    For starters, do what Sensei said. That will help you a ton.

    Point number two: I'm really impressed, actually. That post was well thought-out and shows that you're maturing in this whole thing. Good on you. Like Sensei said, it's not a new question, but good job on thinking of it.

    My answer has a couple of parts:

    1) Do you think you'll ever get American Football players to stop bench pressing? No.

    2) As BigCorey said, the Incline Press is really a better choice for them. It mimics a more athletic movement (make up your mind as to whether GPP/SPP etc is important in the gym). Regardless of your choice there, the incline does a better job of loading the delts and tris, and also gives much more overload than a standing overhead press can.

    3) Overhead presses and jerks can be murder on the shoulders for football players. In the off-season I definitely like some overhead work for a bunch of reasons, but as the season gets closer I'm wary of the pounding their shoulders take. Make your arguments as to whether that's BS or not, but I don't see a need in-season to stress the shoulders any more than necessary.

    4) This ties in with #2: What is the point of lifting for athletes? To get as big and strong as necessary. You don't want tight pecs keeping you from controlling your snatch (take that for what it's worth ). An American Football player could give a **** about that. Again, as Corey said: The bench press (and incline) will build big delts, tris, pecs, and teach overall body strength in pushing. Football players can bench for overall strength, it's better on the incline, and if flat it's even better with a close grip.
    Be a man. Be awesome at it. Be proud of it. Beyond the Barbell

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  9. #8
    Senior Member tomv's Avatar
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    Good post fuzz. I do think they need to bench press as though it may not be THE best exercise to do it is able to put a fair bit of muscle and strength on someones body in a game where size is often very important. You talked about having tight pecs but the same could be said for squats... If you don't do correct warming up and warming down you will eventually get very tight and start to injure yourself. The same could be said for benchpress.

    If you take the time to ensure you have a balanced program, adequately warm up and cool down and do flexibility and mobility work I don't see why the bench press should make you anymore tight then any other exercise.

    I've been reading into sport specific training and a lot of coaches now are trying to look into new exercises and take some of the emphasis off of exercises like squat and deadlift. Due to their bilateral nature, whilst you can still get very strong doing these exercises you are not necessarily mimicking the way you would move on the field or court.

    As well as the reading list Sensei offered (I love those Milo magazines btw, they're fantastic) I would say get onto T-Nation and read just about every article Mike Boyle has written up. The more I read the more I love that guy.

    *tips hat to Sensei for introducing me to Mike Boyle*
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  10. #9
    Couldn't find IAMBUFF.COM
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    Science and Practice of Strength Training by Vladmir Zatsiorsky

    At a gym I went to in Cincinnati there were a series of these posters on the wall that had an amazing amount of information, tips, idea, stretches, anatomy sketches, alternate exercises and then random facts. The series was taken from this book^ at least thats what it said at the bottom. I have never seen more like it or found them online.

    Anyway, one of the (i believe it was a quote) things on there said that bench is single handedly the most overrated movement in everyday strength.
    However I believe it is good for size, in fact I know it is. And if you didn't notice this is a bodybuilding forum. This thread would really be more applicable in the Sport/GPP forum or the Powerlifting/OLY forum

    Random thought...why isn't there a applicable strength/strongman forum????
    Last edited by nddillon; 10-08-2007 at 05:55 PM.

  11. #10
    Senior Member j8715's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nddillon View Post
    Vladmir Zatsiorsky

    This guy teaches at my university. . . Had no idea he was famous, but as a general rule if I look at a course list I take the class with professor with the unpronouncable russian sounding name.
    Last edited by j8715; 10-08-2007 at 07:08 PM.

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sensei View Post
    *Supertraining by Mel Siff
    .
    I've been waiting for months for this book to be back in my library. Was due yesterday, got returned and someone else checked it out before I could! not due again till January!

  13. #12
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    for football I believe you definetely need to bench and just as importantly incline press

  14. #13
    Breaker of Skulls Guido's Avatar
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    Borris and Sensei basically said everything you need to know on the matter, but you're absolutely right. Bench press is not really a functional lift when applied to most sports endeavors (unless of course you count powerlifting). Aside from football linemen or perhaps wrestlers or gymnasts on certain events, there is little functional use for massively developed pectoral muscles, aside from aesthetics. Many would do well in those arenas by focusing on the overhead lifts, posterior chain strengthening, and core strengthening and stabilization work (and no, I'm not talking about that balance ball crap being espoused by "new age" trainers these days).
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  15. #14
    Senior Member brihead301's Avatar
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    I definately think that the bench press is important for all athletes, including football players. There are basically 9 basic movements that you can do to mimic pretty much all the body's basic functions:

    - squat
    - deadlift
    - lunge
    - flat bench
    - overhead press
    - pull-up
    - horizantal pull (cable rows or barbell rows)
    - twisting
    - running

    An incline bench press is somewhere in the middle of flat bench and overhead press, but the bench press and the overhead press cover the 90° extremes; that's why variations exist. Also, there's pulls in between a pull-up and a horizantal pulls, which you could do (ie. rows with your back at a 45 degree angle with the ground), but basically a pull-up and a barbell row cover the 90°extremes. And of course you have variations of squats, deadlifts, lunges, and twists as well (just as you have as all the 9 basic moves are used in sports by their variations). And running is just.....well running.

    So I say do them all. All 9 essential movements and their variations are necessary for complete, full-body strength. Why neglect one of the key points of strength that you are capable of building at the gym, Horizantal pushing? Yes it is used WAY too much by many beginners who think that curls and benching is all you need to 'get big', but that doesn't mean it's not an essential movement for complete, overall strength.

    So instead of thinking of the bench press as a 'chest' exercise, or an overhead press as a 'shoulder' exercise, a pull-up as a 'back' exercise, or a squat as a 'leg' exercise, just think of all the types of movements that your body needs to do: lift things off the ground, squat down and push stuff up, push stuff, pull stuff, twist and turn, lunge yourself forward with one leg in front of the other. So the bench press, the overhead press, and everything in between falls right in there with the essential movements that are needed in sports and everyday life.

  16. #15
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brihead301 View Post
    I definately think that the bench press is important for all athletes, including football players. There are basically 9 basic movements that you can do to mimic pretty much all the body's basic functions:

    - squat
    - deadlift
    - lunge
    - flat bench
    - overhead press
    - pull-up
    - horizantal pull (cable rows or barbell rows)
    - twisting
    - running
    You definately took NROL to heart, didn't you?...
    A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost. -Gray Cook
    Lifting Clips: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=johnnymnemonic2
    Blog: http://squatrx.blogspot.com/

  17. #16
    schmitty199
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    Need to? No, but it doesnt hurt. Theres alot of more important things(squats, cleans, Ppress ect) but if you have room in your workout I dont see why not. If the situation arises and something needed to be dropped, bench would be the 1st thing id dump.

    With that said, yeah.... your pretty much right on fuzzy.
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  18. #17
    Senior Member brihead301's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sensei View Post
    You definately took NROL to heart, didn't you?...
    Hell ya I did. It makes lots of sense though doesn't it?

  19. #18
    Bodybuilding Mythbuster
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    I'm going to weight in in favour of the bench press here. Obviously you have to train chest in order to keep a muscle imbalance from occuring. The best exercise for chest is the bench press...what else are you going to use, flyes, dips? You don't need to bench, same as you don't need to squat or deadlift, but it's just more effective given the alternatives.

  20. #19
    THUNDER THIGHS! Fuzzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Songsangnim View Post
    I'm going to weight in in favour of the bench press here. Obviously you have to train chest in order to keep a muscle imbalance from occuring. The best exercise for chest is the bench press...what else are you going to use, flyes, dips? You don't need to bench, same as you don't need to squat or deadlift, but it's just more effective given the alternatives.
    I disagree, I think the chest gets all the stmulation and balance it needs by doing its most important task, stabilising the shoulder overhead.

    Ive seen way too man O lifters who have never benched with sizeable pecs to deny it.
    Last edited by Fuzzy; 10-09-2007 at 10:46 PM.
    Being a strong teenager means nothing.

    My wrists hurt, but some people don't have wrists to be sore. My knees have tendinitis, but some people don't have legs to get tendinitis in. I seem to be going backwards with training, yet some people can't even walk let alone lift 400 pounds on a daily basis.

    Dust out the vagina, and keep on lifting.

  21. #20
    Bodybuilding Mythbuster
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuzzy View Post
    I dsagree, I think the chest gets all the tumulation and balance it needs by doing its most important task, stabilising the shoulder overhead/
    So you think the chest gets enough stimulation by stabilizing the shoulder overhead. Compared to a 600 lb Deadlift I'd say that's pretty minor wouldn't you?


    Training the chest without training the back will very likely lead to a muscle imbalance and possibly injury.


    Training the back without training the chest will very likely lead to the same thing.

    Take out all chest training out of your routine (other than stabilizing your shoulders) Come back in a couple of years and tell us what happened.

    Neglecting any major body part is usually not a bright idea. Yes the bench press IS overrated, no doubt about that. But to go to the other extreme and declare that the chest should ONLY stabilize the shoulder is just as wrong-headed.
    Last edited by Songsangnim; 10-09-2007 at 11:28 PM.

  22. #21
    THUNDER THIGHS! Fuzzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Songsangnim View Post
    Take out all chest training out of your routine (other than stabilizing your shoulders) Come back in a couple of years and tell us what happened.
    I will do it, also, thousands of very strong people have done it to.
    Being a strong teenager means nothing.

    My wrists hurt, but some people don't have wrists to be sore. My knees have tendinitis, but some people don't have legs to get tendinitis in. I seem to be going backwards with training, yet some people can't even walk let alone lift 400 pounds on a daily basis.

    Dust out the vagina, and keep on lifting.

  23. #22
    Bodybuilding Mythbuster
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    Keep in mind that you were talking about football players and athletes in general. Now you are suddenly shifting the goalposts and talking about Oly lifters in specific?

    Like I said you don't absolutely need to bench. But if you want to build the chest, bench pressing is probably the best thing you can do for it...for normal people and the average athlete.
    Last edited by Songsangnim; 10-09-2007 at 11:33 PM.

  24. #23
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brihead301 View Post
    Hell ya I did. It makes lots of sense though doesn't it?
    Sure it makes sense, and I love Alwyn Cosgrove's stuff - but athletes (elite ones especially) are a different category of trainee.

    As far as training movements rather than bodyparts go, I would say that athletes have known that for decades now.
    A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost. -Gray Cook
    Lifting Clips: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=johnnymnemonic2
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  25. #24
    Senior Member brihead301's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sensei View Post
    Sure it makes sense, and I love Alwyn Cosgrove's stuff - but athletes (elite ones especially) are a different category of trainee.

    As far as training movements rather than bodyparts go, I would say that athletes have known that for decades now.
    Good point that many have known that for years. To me on the other hand, that was a new concept to me. In my 6 or 7 years of lifting, I've tried so many different routines before, and I read so many different books before that had 3-day, 4-day, 5-day, etc... splits. Almost every single book that I read was full of isolation exercies with routines like: 3 things for your bis, 3 for tris, 4 for quads, etc.... So I guess this is the book that 'enlightened' me on how to train correctly, and because of that I've got better gains in the last 4 1/2 months then I did in the previous 6 1/2 years.

    I guess it was kind of stupid of me to think that I was giving new info about these 'movement' concepts to the people on here. I've heard of push/pull/ legs, but thats the furthest extent of what I knew about training movements. Anyway, I'm sure you'll be hearing me boast about the stuff I recently learned in many future threads just because the workouts are working so damn good for me. That's what I think the bench press is one of the essentials.

  26. #25
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    I'm not knocking you or Alwyn Cosgrove - it IS great stuff. But, I just don't know if I'd describe what athletes need as balanced or complete. They have special needs that need to be addressed and the list you have given may or may not suit them. Not to say that a FB player would never do some of those movements, but if you only have so much time and energy to devote to your weight room work, you have to prioritize.
    A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost. -Gray Cook
    Lifting Clips: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=johnnymnemonic2
    Blog: http://squatrx.blogspot.com/

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