If you've spent any time in a gym, you've probably done some type of Bench Press variation. No doubt, these are fantastic exercises to build upper-body strength.
But there's one problem with these movements. How often do you find yourself with your back pinned against a bench pressing something over your chest? Not a lot! That's why I advocate performing Single-Arm Hanging Band Presses to build y0ur upper-body strength while offering a tremendous challenge for the rest of your body.
This is not a replacement for the Bench Press but rather a tool in your toolbox to offer a new challenge to your muscles.
Why add this to your program?
- It challenges your core. Your hips have to be high and your abs tight; also, you have to prevent your torso from rotating, which is essential to maintain a powerful athletic position.
- It builds pressing strength. You won't be lifting near the weight you can Bench Press. However, the instability increases motor unit activation and fires the stabilizer muscles in your shoulders. Strengthening these muscles will help you prevent injury and improve your performance when you get back on the Bench Press.
- It builds back and grip strength. On your supporting side (not the pressing side), you hold an isometric contraction, which helps to strengthen your back, improve your posture and build a strong grip.
- It takes you out of your comfort zone. Do you like the Bench Press? Are you comfortable doing that lift? Get out of your comfort zone by putting your body in this difficult position, creating a new stress on your body and teaching you to stay strong in an awkward position.
Here are some of my favorite variations of this exercise.
Ring Hold Isometric Bridge with Dumbbell or Kettlebell Press
- Set up in a bridge position and grab the ring or suspension trainer handle.
- Grab or have someone hand you a dumbbell or kettlebell.
- While holding the ring for stability in the bridge position, perform a Dumbbell or Kettlebell Press.
Ring Hold Isometric Bridge with Bottoms-Down Press
- Same setup as above, but press from a bottoms-down position with your hand palming the kettlebell.
Ring Hold Isometric Bridge with Bottoms-Up Press
- Same setup as above, but you change the dynamics of the lift by holding the horn of the kettlebell in the bottoms-up position.
Single-Arm Isometric Body Row with Bottoms Down Press
- Same setup as above.
- Although you are rowing to assist with the Press, your balance is being thrown off. Therefore, you must stay consistent with the Row and Press while performing an isometric hold on the ring.
Now here is where things get a little harder!
Hanging Band Bottoms-Down Press
- Tie the green resistance band; it works better. If you do not have a green band, another band should work.
- Use the same setup as above but hold the band and start pressing.
Hanging Band Bottoms-Up Press
- Use the same setup as above, just switch the pressing motion.
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