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Old 08-31-2005, 02:15 AM
Darkhorse Darkhorse is offline
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The other method for strengthening the traps as well as the upper back would be the Olympic lifts. While learning the classic (full) versions of the snatch and clean and jerk could be counter productive, partial versions of the quick lifts can be readily learned and provide a degree of stimulation to the upper back that is unparalleled by other forms of lifting.

The power snatch is one of the best exercises for strengthening the upper back that has ever been practiced. In addition to strengthening the traps, posterior deltoids, rhomboids and teres major, the external rotators are strengthened quite thoroughly. This exercise, or a variation of it, is often used for this very purpose.

The power clean will work the traps quite well, and more weight can be used than in the power snatch. This exercise will work the posterior deltoids, rhomboids, and teres major, but it does not strengthen the external rotators to the same degree as the power snatch. If strengthening the external rotators is the primary goal, dumbbells can be more effective.

Pulls: Whether executed with a snatch or clean grip, performed from the deck, the hang, or pins, Olympic pulls can work the traps through an incredible range of motion, and there will be some stimulation of the other muscles of the upper back.

Biceps: The only function the biceps brachialis serves is as a stabilizer in the bench press. For this reason, there is little reason for the athlete interested in strengthening the bench to spend much time curling. The brachialis serves as a stabilizer as well, and often more so than the biceps, so reverse curls and hammer curls can be of some use.

Forearms: The muscular of the forearm is far more important to the bench than the biceps. The brachioradialis serves to stabilize the elbow joint, and the extensors and flexors stabilize the wrist joint.

Reverse Curls: This exercise primarily strengthens the brachioradialis, but also serves to strengthen the brachialis.

Hammer Curls: Similar to reverse curls, with less effect on the brachioradialis, but more stimulation of the brachialis.

Wrist Curls: Can be used to strengthen both the flexors and the extensors.

Grip work: Grip work in general can be divided into a few categories as well, but the primary interest of the athlete seeking to improve the bench is static contraction.

A final note: Aside from the obvious cautions about using spotters or a power rack, there is one other difficulty that is often overlooked. The bench press will heavily work the internal rotators (supraspinatus and infraspinatus) but not stress the externals to any great degree. The external rotators (subscapularis and teres minor) are equally important, and should receive attention. While mention has been made of the fact that some of the Olympic lifts work the external rotators, this needs to be stressed. If these moves are not utilized, a certain amount of specific work for these small muscles should be included. The key aspect to any training program is that the health of the athlete is paramount.

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