God, I hate making appointments with doctors. I’m trying to make an appo with my PCP to check my elbows, and the earliest time possible is next Friday, more than a week from now. I hate that crap – I may as well walk-in and bite the bullet that is to wait for several hours. Oh well.
Speaking of elbows, or more precise, articulations in general, the devil is in the details. It is amazing how much of a difference it makes when you make adjustments to a workout (or choose a different variation.) More precisely, I’m talking about bench presses.
For the longest time I’ve been doing the standard bodybuilder-type bench press (elbows flaring, wide grip), and for the longest time I’ve been (unknowingly until recently) massacring my poor shoulders.
It sucks to have no formal PT education and rely strictly on craptacular articles from Iron Man magazines.
Anyways, I never had a problem until about 4-5 years ago. I hit a plateau. Couldn’t push anything heavier anymore. And then… kaput. Shoulder pain. The pain, man, the pain. I would stop bench pressing for a while, then resume and then be forced to give up.
Little by little, my max lift was getting smaller and smaller. Once more I tried to build up my bench press (about 2 months I tried a 5×5 program), but my shoulders wouldn’t have any of it. And that made me go like :-<
I did take this setback as an opportunity to explore other exercises, mostly dips and variations of push ups, but still, I craved for the bench press, just like one craves a greasy, fat breakfast at IHOP after a night of dancing.
Very recently, while grassing posts on www.bullshido.net, I became acquainted with what’s called the powerlifters version of bench pressing. Elbows tucked in, shoulder-width grip, bar lowered to the lower chest. I did them… and I saw the light.
That small variation in arm/shoulder placement (and the ability to recruit the Erector Spinae and Gluteus Maximus as stabilizers) have been a bliss to my shoulders. After four weeks of doing them, my shoulders are free of pain, healthier than ever. And what’s more important, my 1RM has increased by 11%.
First time in more than 5 years that I’m able to break my plateau. First time in more than 5 years that my shoulders don’t bitch. Too bad that it’s until now, after so many years, that I’m getting acquainted with subtle differences between the run-of-the-mill lifts you see advocated in bodybuilding magazines and what constitutes proper lifting technique.
Oh well, better late than never.
As for my elbows, I’m not gonna wait for the #@! appointment. I’ll just walk in, even if it takes me half a day to get this crap checked. One week and a half left before I go back to train jits, and I don’t want to go back without knowing well what’s causing this chronic elbow pain.
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