This was an exciting weekend for CrossFit and the central region. It was amazing to watch the athletes from all around compete and display their athletic abilities. The unfortunate aspect of this year has been the amount of pectoral injuries we have seen. We can blame the programming all we want but I do believe it is too early to say why so many have been injured. I am a firm believer in individual responsibility and maybe it is the fact the most people aren't training or recovering properly. One movement I feel that is under-utiized-utilized in our sport is the bench press.
The bench press is definitely not the most important upper body movement in the sports world, like some believe, but it for sure is an important movement non the less. The longer I have been involved in the sport, the more I see athletes forgetting about the importance of the bench press. In fact, if you walk into many CrossFit gyms and Weightlifting gyms you fail to even find a bench. Even if you have no interest in increasing your max bench (which I see as a silly thought) you should still be bench pressing to increase the size of the major muscle groups as well as the stabilizer muscles involved. Very few movements have the ability to put the pectorals at the extreme end range and strengthen the lockout muscles of the triceps like the bench. Both of these muscle groups are used in the ring dip, which is where we are seeing these athletes injure their pectorals. The use of assistance work is also important and small movements can make the difference between excelling and injuring yourself. As we have recently seen in the CrossFit realm the use of dumb bells have become more and more frequent. I would use the dumb bells for benching. This follows right along with Greg Glassman's recommendation that whatever you do with a barbell, you can do with the dumb bells to increase the difficulty. I would even say that dumb bell benching would be an excellent warm up and skill progression before you jump on the rings as the need for stabilizers is the same. Small additions to your training regime can make a huge difference.
Now let me be very clear, I am not saying that I believe these regionals and games level athletes were injured because they were not benching. All I am stating is that going along with CrossFit's theme of constantly varied movements, the fact that most gyms fail to do the bench press is silly and sets athletes up for injury but leaving a major hole in their fitness. All athletes should be bench pressing