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Benching it right - the effect of Bar path!

Shanu Shashank
Shanu Shashank
Benching it right – Importance of bar path! ( a bit of physics - read carefully)
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One of the most complex setups among all exercises (apart from the strength and practise), it does require some real skill to bench heavier and with ease. An important factor that can affect the efficiency of your benching is the bar path (there are several other pointers too, but we will just get into the bar path over here). 

- Driving the bar towards your face (or above shoulders), instead of keeping the movement in a straight line directly above while pressing away, has been proven to be found as more efficient in several studies.
- Coming to the complex part – why to take care of the bar path? Well, it simply helps reduce total flexion (flexion – angle between the bones at a particular joint decreases) demands at the shoulder for any given grip width. Too complex to understand, lets break down one by one.

-The three main movements that occur during a bench press are: Shoulder flexion, shoulder horizontal flexion and elbow extension. 
- Leaving apart the elbow extension, the other two can be summed up as total flexion demands here, as both these movements can be performed by our pecs and front delts. Now, this total flexion demand is determined by the joint movements, load and moment arm.

What is moment? It is the force applied about an axis.
Moment = force x (distance from axis perpendicular to the direction of force).
Now, keeping the load constant, the more the distance of axis to the point of application of force, more will be the moment and hence more will be the total flexion demands at shoulders and converse. So, it all boils down to – How to reduce this moment? 

1. Grip width and 2. The horizontal distance from the bar to the shoulders when you look someone from side, are the deciding factors which determine this moment arm.

Since grip width might vary from individual to individual basis the anatomy, let’s see the latter that is the position of the bar in relation to the shoulders. The farther the bar is from the shoulder joint while pressed up, this horizontal distance increases, hence moment increases and so the total flexion demands, making it more difficult a lift.

- To summarize it: Lesser the horizontal distance between the bar and the shoulder while pressed up, lesser the moment arm, lesser will be the flexion demands at the shoulders and hence the lift will be easier.

PS: Benching is a very complex exercise, one needs to check all the aspects – from bar path to foot and hip drives to even the anatomy of an individual might define how he/she appears while benching. Check below links for a more detailed insight on how to improve the bench press.

https://www.strongerbyscience.com/how-to-bench/#Forces_at_Play_In_the_Bench_Press

https://www.strongerbyscience.com/bench-press-bar-path/

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