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kiterunner
August 16th, 2007, 10:18 PM
i have read (here actually: http://www.swimdcac.org/documents/article5.html) that the bench press does more harm than good for swimmers. what is everyone else's opinion (and experience)??

ALM
August 16th, 2007, 11:03 PM
That's interesting. The part of the article that mentions bench press says,


"...When developing upper body strength for swimming purposes, you want to concentrate on swimming specific muscles, specific swimming movements and range of motion. THE LAST EXERCISE YOU WANT TO PERFORM IS THE BENCH PRESS. This will decrease your swimming ability. When you are in the water, what stroke has the same range of motion as the bench press? NONE! When you are pushing a large amount of weight (greater than 60% of your body weight) away from your body, you are destroying the rotator cuff muscles. When performing the bench press, too much of the weight is supported and stabilized by the rotator cuff muscles. These are the most important muscles for swimming. Have you ever wondered why so many swimmers have shoulder problems? One, because of poor stroke technique, and two, because of improper resistance training.

On the other hand, one of the best exercises for swimming is a push-up. The push-up only uses about 40-50% of your body weight with more of the weight evenly distributed to the rotator cuff muscles, deltoid muscles, and pectoralis muscles. Have you noticed that when you get fatigued from doing push-ups, you feel the fatigue evenly distributed between your chest and arms?..."

I hadn't really heard this before. I guess my question would be, what about doing bench presses with less weight but more reps? The article implies that it's the bench press with a lot of weight that is a bad thing.

Anna Lea

kiterunner
August 16th, 2007, 11:15 PM
right. a bench press only isolates the chest and shoulders, while a push up uses core muscles to support yourself. i suppose a bench press with light weights would be ok, but would it be better to just do push ups for the core streangth trainning? what does everyone else think?

knelson
August 16th, 2007, 11:55 PM
I guess my gut feeling is this is hog wash. I really don't think a bench press and a push-up are that different. Certainly not enough that one would be encouraged and the other discouraged for swimmers. I'll say this, though. Whenever I've been swimming a lot I have a hard time benching much weight. The time in my life where I wasn't swimming at all is the time I was able to bench press the most weight. Granted I focused on weight training more at that time and that might be the only reason for the difference.

SwimStud
August 17th, 2007, 12:05 AM
If I may, bench press like squats and lat pulldowns are a good basic exercises that hit the main areas. Doing these in a safe, good form way with weight won't do anything bad. Obviously trying to progress to heavy weight to build muscle may over bulk the chest and/or lead to injury, but in it's own right benching with freewieghts at least, hits your core too...just not your lower half like press ups.

To be honest you could do squats, lats and benchpress and generically hit all the muscle groups. Most folks would get good returns from these 3 exercises alone.

knelson
August 17th, 2007, 12:25 AM
When developing upper body strength for swimming purposes, you want to concentrate on swimming specific muscles

...When you are pushing a large amount of weight (greater than 60% of your body weight) away from your body, you are destroying the rotator cuff muscles. When performing the bench press, too much of the weight is supported and stabilized by the rotator cuff muscles. These are the most important muscles for swimming.

Isn't this a little contradictory? First he says to work the muscles you use in swimming, then he says bench is no good because you work a muscle used in swimming. So which one is it going to be?


If I may, bench press like squats and lat pulldowns are a good basic exercises that hit the main areas. Doing these in a safe, good form way with weight won't do anything bad.

Exactly.

scyfreestyler
August 17th, 2007, 12:44 AM
Terry Laughlin tore a portion of his rotator cuff doing bench press and was faced with a long recovery that involved surgery as I recall. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that bench pressing is outright bad for swimmers. I do think that bench pressing with shoulders that are already overworked from swimming is an invitation to a disaster though.

SwimStud
August 17th, 2007, 07:44 AM
Terry Laughlin tore a portion of his rotator cuff doing bench press and was faced with a long recovery that involved surgery as I recall. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that bench pressing is outright bad for swimmers. I do think that bench pressing with shoulders that are already overworked from swimming is an invitation to a disaster though.

That's fair enough Matt but you can also sneeze and tear muscles or blow out discs...risk vs reward is an individual assessment. I want X result from doing Y. Something can go wrong anytime, TL was obviously very unlucky.

The Fortress
August 17th, 2007, 08:22 AM
Terry Laughlin tore a portion of his rotator cuff doing bench press and was faced with a long recovery that involved surgery as I recall. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that bench pressing is outright bad for swimmers. I do think that bench pressing with shoulders that are already overworked from swimming is an invitation to a disaster though.

Same thing happened to me in college. Having compromised shoulders, I never bench press now. There are plenty of other ways to get strong.

gull
August 17th, 2007, 08:42 AM
My understanding of swimmer's shoulder is that muscle imbalance aggravates impingement of the rotator cuff tendons. The anterior muscles, including pectoralis major, are larger and stronger than the rotator cuff muscles and the other posterior muscle groups that stabilize the scapula and suppport the shoulder. So bench press could increase this imbalance, making the situation worse. Additionally, depending on how you perform the exercise, you may be impinging the tendons when you lower the weight (same problem with dips).

SwimStud
August 17th, 2007, 08:49 AM
My understanding of swimmer's shoulder is that muscle imbalance aggravates impingement of the rotator cuff tendons. The anterior muscles, including pectoralis major, are larger and stronger than the rotator cuff muscles and the other posterior muscle groups that stabilize the scapula and suppport the shoulder. So bench press could increase this imbalance, making the situation worse. Additionally, depending on how you perform the exercise, you may be impinging the tendons when you lower the weight (same problem with dips).

So what do can be done to restore balance? RC stabilisers, rows? Doorway stretches are huge for anyone who is blessed with a chunky chest.

It's like how if you over strengthen your quads without working your hams, they can pop because they can't cope with the load when they're engaged. Frequently hams are pulled when people try to slow from a run or change direction.

As a note I'm in no way suggesting using weight that limit reps to 4.

aquageek
August 17th, 2007, 09:08 AM
I lift three times a week. Of all the lifting I do, which isn't a ton to begin with, I do the least amount of bench presses. Something about it makes me think it can't be good for swimming and/or I'm likely to rip something and hurt my swimming. Plus, I'm pretty weak.

swimr4life
August 17th, 2007, 09:49 AM
My understanding of swimmer's shoulder is that muscle imbalance aggravates impingement of the rotator cuff tendons. The anterior muscles, including pectoralis major, are larger and stronger than the rotator cuff muscles and the other posterior muscle groups that stabilize the scapula and suppport the shoulder. So bench press could increase this imbalance, making the situation worse. Additionally, depending on how you perform the exercise, you may be impinging the tendons when you lower the weight (same problem with dips).

Gull, you are right on the money.....once again! :bow:

I don't do bench presses for all the reasons you listed. Anytime I've done it, I've been in pain afterwards. I have very muscular pecs....don't laugh. This is no way reflects the size of other nearby parts! :rofl: My doctor told me that was a big cause for my shoulder problems.....the muscle imbalance combined with loose joints. I say avoid the bench press if you have shoulder problems....and if you do bench, do so with lots of reps and low weight.

The Fortress
August 17th, 2007, 10:07 AM
So what do can be done to restore balance? RC stabilisers, rows? Doorway stretches are huge for anyone who is blessed with a chunky chest.

I don't do dips or push ups either. Anything really where my shoulders are supporting my body weight.

To restore balance, you should do RC exercises and scapular stabilizers, plus any exercise that strengthens the back and anterior muscles, especially the teres muscles. Rowing is good, although shouldn't be overdone. Any machine with a pulling motion that causes you to retract and protract the shoulder blades is effective. There are also dryland exercises that help strengthen the scapular muscles with retraction and protraction like the prone hitchhiker, etc.

I'm not sure about doorway stretches ... I'm leary of stretching my tendons. But I can see where you would want to stretch the muscles in the front of the shoulder, but NOT the back. Presumably the tendons are loosey goosey back there from all the repetitive motion on fly and free. Or genetics. Or both.

SwimStud
August 17th, 2007, 10:15 AM
I don't do dips or push ups either. Anything really where my shoulders are supporting my body weight.

To restore balance, you should do RC exercises and scapular stabilizers, plus any exercise that strengthens the back and anterior muscles, especially the teres muscles. Rowing is good, although shouldn't be overdone. Any machine with a pulling motion that causes you to retract and protract the shoulder blades is effective. There are also dryland exercises that help strengthen the scapular muscles with retraction and protraction like the prone hitchhiker, etc.

I'm not sure about doorway stretches ... I'm leary of stretching my tendons. But I can see where you would want to stretch the muscles in the front of the shoulder, but NOT the back. Presumably the tendons are loosey goosey back there from all the repetitive motion on fly and free. Or genetics. Or both.

I'll show you my PT reccomended stretches tomorrow. As a consolation prize for you. :D
You're right about not overdoing rowing. That is good advice for any and all things.

quicksilver
August 17th, 2007, 11:27 AM
Interesting view point...but bench pressing can't be all that bad for swimming. By default, the abdominal muscles will get a work out...along with all the smaller muscles which are straining to push the weight upwards. Bench pressing in itself will strengthen your triceps (good for swimming).

However, the best muscle building for the triceps will come from doing dips.

Another muscle group to target are the lats. Lat pull downs on a weight machine and pull-ups/chin/ups will strengthen these back muscles.
Very good for swimming.


Maybe it all depends on how these exercises are being done.
Bad form will cause damage.

swimr4life
August 17th, 2007, 11:33 AM
Interesting view point...but bench pressing can't be all that bad for swimming. By default, the abdominal muscles will get a work out...along with all the smaller muscles which are straining to push the weight upwards. Bench pressing in itself will strengthen your triceps (good for swimming).

However, the best muscle building for the triceps will come from doing dips.

Another muscle group to target are the lats. Lat pull downs on a weight machine and pull-ups/chin/ups will strengthen these back muscles.
Very good for swimming.


Maybe it all depends on how these exercises are being done.
Bad form will cause damage.

That is true but... so will bad anatomy...even with good form! We've had this technique vs anatomy discussion many times on the shoulder problem threads. I believe its not always technique problems at fault!

gull
August 17th, 2007, 11:43 AM
Bad form will cause damage.

So will bad exercises, like dips.

A few years ago I read The Seven Minute Shoulder Solution. The authors were very negative about dips and bench press. I've heard this from other sources, including my PT.

aquageek
August 17th, 2007, 11:46 AM
I'm addicted to dips, nothing seems to burn the triceps like them. Any good substitutions?

quicksilver
August 17th, 2007, 11:49 AM
Totally agree with that Dr. Gull.

When we were teen agers...doing dips were as easy as touching your toes.
I remember climbing the ropes in the gym with just hands no legs.

I can still do them now (dips). And it would appear that it all depends on how much weight you are dipping up and down.
But then again at 45 years old... I weigh a few lbs. less than I did at 21.

scyfreestyler
August 17th, 2007, 11:52 AM
A couple strong therabands stuck in a door and pulled slowly rearward with your forearm (humerus vertical and aligned with your abdomen) will make your triceps cry for mercy.

The Fortress
August 17th, 2007, 12:41 PM
When we were teen agers...doing dips were as easy as touching your toes.

Not saying these aren't good exercises. Just saying they're not terribly advisable if you have shoulder issues. And even if we're the same weight, aren't we a bit creakier? Plus, if it's an ab workout you want, there are many easier and safer ways to get it then bench pressing!

Geek: Try assisted dips or tricep kickbacks or planks.

I do lat pull downs and lat presses. You can also do hammers or bicep curls on a bosu -- then you get the arms and the core. Although I really have yet to master doing a superman streamline on a stability ball. That is hard!

hofffam
August 17th, 2007, 01:24 PM
However, the best muscle building for the triceps will come from doing dips.


I'm not convinced this is true. Yes dips are very demanding of the triceps. But dips also require your shoulder joint to bear most of your body weight.

Triceps can be worked in isolation very easily - with a standing push down via bar+cable or with dumbbells - one or both triceps at a time. Each of these alternatives avoid stress on the shoulder joint itself.

In college (many many years ago) I was a big bench presser. I added strength and size easily. But I just started a weights program and so far am not doing any bench at all. For several reasons - 1) my shoulders are a bit fragile now, 2) I just don't see the value to any swimming stroke to have an unusually strong pectoral muscle.

knelson
August 17th, 2007, 01:29 PM
So bench press could increase this imbalance, making the situation worse.

But do you think push-ups are substantially different?

scyfreestyler
August 17th, 2007, 01:34 PM
But do you think push-ups are substantially different?


I would say they are not very different at all.

Each of us should have an idea of what our shoulders are capable of dealing with. Additionally, we should be wise enough to listen to our bodies when they scream uncle. For me, bench pressing and push ups are not on the menu anymore.

gull
August 17th, 2007, 01:41 PM
But do you think push-ups are substantially different?


No.

ande
August 17th, 2007, 01:46 PM
I don't do dips anymore, I used to be very good at them. I could do
10 reps with 100 extra pounds and
45 or 50 reps in a row if I had no extra weight


I'm addicted to dips, nothing seems to burn the triceps like them. Any good substitutions?

Midas
August 17th, 2007, 02:07 PM
In college (many many years ago) I was a big bench presser. I added strength and size easily. But I just started a weights program and so far am not doing any bench at all. For several reasons - 1) my shoulders are a bit fragile now, 2) I just don't see the value to any swimming stroke to have an unusually strong pectoral muscle.

Actually, I think it helps us breaststrokers, since our arms are doing mostly sculling and not "pulling". I'm just getting back into the weights but see value in flys, pec deck, etc. I think the idea is to keep the weights pretty low and the reps pretty high. No reason to "bulk up" on the bench...

rtodd
August 17th, 2007, 11:12 PM
I'm with you Ande. I do not bench or do weighted dips anymore.

I competed in power lifting and benched my whole life. Now that I have been swimming for several years 5 to 6 times a week, I no longer bench because I feel strain inside my shoulders. But I can do more pushups now than before. That tells me something.

The big surprise for me was the devlopment of all my posterior muscles from swimming. Tri's, Back, upper shoulders and especially lats. My upper body is bigger now than when powerlifting (definately not the glutes and legs though).

If you want to swim fast, there is no substitute for swimming. If I were to do any lifting it would be pull ups and rows. These don't seem to put the same strain on my shoulders as benching and dips. If your shoulders can handle benching go right ahead, but I don't see the need.

ALM
August 17th, 2007, 11:43 PM
I'm addicted to dips, nothing seems to burn the triceps like them. Any good substitutions?

Skull crushers.

See:
http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Triceps/BBLyingTriExtSC.html

This entire web site is awesome... And created by a guy who lives in Kansas!

Muscle and Exercise Directory:
http://www.exrx.net/Lists/Directory.html

Exercise instruction and weight training:
http://www.exrx.net/Exercise.html

Home:
http://www.exrx.net/


Anna Lea

Allen Stark
August 23rd, 2007, 12:27 AM
I do something like the "Skull Crusher" but with dumbbells so I don't crush my skull. Bench press seems to hurt my shoulders. I think a better lift for breaststroke is to take the cable weights and pull down and in with them. As I have said many times,I think if you are swimming 200s or less you are better off with High weights/low reps as swimming is low weight/high reps. If the exercise hurts do one that doesn't.

Jazz Hands
August 27th, 2007, 11:53 AM
Bench press is fine. I've done dips, barbell bench, and dumbbell bench in my workouts. Sometimes a specific exercise will cause pain if you do it too much, so you can just switch to another one for a while.

AJStirling
August 28th, 2007, 01:12 AM
I was told by my last physical therapist that bench presses are not good for the shoulder because they force too much load through the front of the shoulder. He said that chest flys are the way to go.

Slowswim
August 28th, 2007, 10:11 AM
What about: push-ups, pull-ups (or chin-ups), and dips?

AJStirling
August 28th, 2007, 12:37 PM
My understanding that push ups are okay if your fingers face more out to the side and not forrows. So it's the bench press motion with the fly hand positioning.

No idea on pull ups.

Dips I would think would be okay because of the thumbs forward / fingers to the side positioning.