#75 Don’t Bench Press For BJJ: How to get strong without the Bench.
What do you Bench? This question is not helpful for BJJ athletes and may even be harmful. Even though Barbell Bench Press is a very popular movement in modern day lifting, spending time lying on your back and pushing heavy weight off your chest isn’t the best way to strengthen your upper body. If you really want a stronger upper body JT & Joey explore the alternatives to get you there and how you can avoid injury by changing up how you lift.
Speaker 1: 0:00
Hey, it’s JT and I’m excited because I’ve just booked my flights and I’m coming to a city near you . I will be in Poland and Germany in July. Then I’ll be in the UK and Scotland in August. Then I’ll be making the trip over to United States and Canada for September. If you would like a Bulletproof for BJ J seminar , contact us email JT, Bulletproof for bj.com and book your seminar today
Speaker 2: 0:30
Better listen. Very carefully. A good martial artist does not become tense, but ready, essentially at this point, the fight is over. So you pretty much flow with the goal who is worthy to be trusted with the secret to limit this power. I am ready,
Speaker 1: 0:55
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another Bulletproof for BJJ podcast. Hi guys. I’m JT. Hey, what’s up? I’m Joey. And today we are saying don’t bench press for BJ. J don’t do it. I’m just saying people say to me, oh, how come you guys don’t bench press in there guys, bench press. If you’re benching in jujitsu , it means your guard’s been passed and you’re in struggle town . It’s not a good thing to do well. Let’s yeah, let’s qualify it. Um , I mean, it’s good to have that strength. Isn’t it to , you know, someone’s on top, whatever, like push ’em off frame, like the , you know, that that form of strength is handy, but there’s ways to develop it. Right? Yeah. And I think more so we’re gonna be talking about what the downsides of bench pressing are versus other forms of building a similar strength. Similar. Yeah. And look, if we think about bench press, I mean, bench press has been popularized over time. It’s just, it got popular. And then over time it got incorporated into power lifting. And if you look at the history of the sport, those guys as strong as they are end up with wrecked shoulders, and we’re, we’re speaking specifically about Barb bell bench pressing, cuz even if you were to do it with dumbbells, that’s a much healthier movement. Is that still called a bench press when it’s with dumbbells or is that like a chest press or a dumbbell press? Um , I , I think depending on who’s classifying it, you could still look at as doing how green I am with benches. No , but you can do like a dumbbell bench press. I think hand position too . You can look at that. Yeah. There’s obviously more bars now. Like you can get like a, a , like a Swiss bar or like a modified bar. So you can have a neutral grip, neutral grip. But I remember going to a seminar many years ago with a guy called Ashley Jones, who was a strength conditioning coach to the wallabies. And he said that they don’t let them bench below the Australian national rugby union team for those who are not familiar, if you’re not familiar. Yeah. There’s some big strong guys, you know, you’re playing against New Zealand and obviously England’s there South Africa too, but everyone’s scared of the all blacks. Um, and that’s the deal. They wouldn’t let them, they would let them bench press, but only to 90 degrees on their elbow bend because they found that when guys would go below that, in that position, they’re at much greater risk of shoulder injury. Right? So recently I had a guy email me, fair , fair play . And he said, Hey man, you’ve got the strength program. There’s no bench press, what’s wrong with you. And I was like, well look, dude, you know, you’re like, man, there’s a load of stuff wrong with me. <laugh> well , let’s talk about the bench press . <laugh> he didn’t say what’s wrong with you, but I , I that’s. I took , yeah . Somehow I imagine if, if you got an email like that, he wouldn’t have got an , uh , like a measured response. <laugh> I was like , I took it as a personal front . I was like , Michael, would us all front as I’m Michael Jordan, just inventing ways to be . Why don’t you step over to the gym? Bra 15 Underwood avenue. I’m here all day. <laugh> come see me. Bra first class is free bra <laugh>, but essentially let’s look at some of the pressing movements we do because we, we , there is a floor press in there. We do like a guard attack with the , with kettle bells. Yeah. We’ve got a bunch of pressing work. Yeah. Bottoms up , press overhead, press strict , press. Like it it’s all in there. I think the thing with bench press is that it’s it became a, it became one of those sort of foundational movements of Jim goers. Yes. And then if you go into the power lifting realm or the strength conditioning realm, it’s kind of really held up there as, as being like one of the big three it’s like back squat, deadlift bench, press. Sure. Now I , I, from our perspective, it’s like, yeah, deadlift, great back squat, great bench press. Nah , don’t need it. Reason being is that you can use these other forms of pressing, which , uh , which have more range of motion. They have more of a mobility aspect to them, like an overhead press. Right? Like you’re building a lot, like you , you’re getting a lot more stuff within an overhead press than compared to a bench. Yes. Even just in terms of how far you’re moving that load. Yeah . But also you’re helping to open up the shoulders. You’re helping with thoracic extension, all that stuff. Um, so I think when we look at it, we’re like, well, yeah, it’s a good exercise. It’s fine. But the , but there’s better exercises out there that will build the same. And more definitely. So if you only got limited time, do those. Yeah. And , and think this guys like two , two key points here, it’s harder to be strong overhead. Like we , we all know like, you know, when someone’s got you under Mount or you are under someone’s Mount and your arms are up like this, like it’s hard to be able to be strong overhead. So actually pressing overhead is a greater indication of your total body strength through your whole torso and everything then horizontal pressing. And if you’ve got a really strong overhead press, it won’t be hard for you to have a horizontal press, but also picture this guys because you know, I spend a little bit time working on my bench. It’s garbage, but I’ve worked on it. You have to pinch your shoulder blades back and all your weight is distributed into fixing your scapulas like this. Like they sit there, but let’s say we flip that and we’re talking about like that very strict power lifting style set up , you really set your lats and you , and because that gives you a strong , uh , kind of position to press from yeah . The bit of the arch in the back, you know , like putting it right. Also reduces the range of motion, doesn’t it? It does. <laugh> brings your chest closer to the bar. It does. But also when you’re on that position, it’s almost like a slight decline. You can better access the PEX. Yeah . Doesn’t matter if you did a weighted push up , but you don’t see bodybuilders benching like that. Right. Like you see, it’s like if the goal is press the heaviest load possible, that’s the setup . Yes. Versus, Hey, I wanna grow my pecks , like bodybuilder type attention . Then it’s like, oh man, let’s, you know , it’s different. It is different. And this is the specificity of that as an exercise, isn’t it ? Yeah. And, but, but then also let’s flip that and go look at like a ring pushup or a ring dip. Like how, how cha even just a normal body weight dip, parallel bar dip, even though yes. Is really loading up the elbows. You get a lot of tricep. There’s plenty of Peck involvement as well, depending on how you do it. Even if you do a pushup and say you were to do a weighted pushup, at least your scapulas are free to move as they normally would. It’s much healthier for your shoulder and way harder in your core, cuz you’re loading anteriorly. The reason why you can produce so much force or a bench press is you’re bridging your squeezing, your glutes. Like it’s it . And you’ve got the backing of the bench there. So what I’d say is if you are bridging super hard and pushing super hard up and we’re relating this back to Jitsu , that’s not you at your best in terms of jujitsu training. That isn’t necessarily the best thing for you to do. Even though you could comparatively say, oh, it’s a movement you do in jujitsu . Yeah, sure. Ultimately, there is better ways to train your triceps, your chest, your shoulders to get strong, which is actually safer for your shoulders and actually more bang for your buck. There’s a kind of a simple comparison. There is the, like the thing with the bench press. And I find this myself, the , the , the few times that I , the , you know, the rare occasion when I do it , uh , which is always a bit of fun. You go to some gym, whatever, like, Hey, we’re benching great. Let’s go. Sure . You know, you get yourself into a great position and whatnot . And, and I’m talking right now to the everyday person that’s that’s training. What’s really easy to happen in a , in something like a bench press is that you kind of get yourself into a position. But as soon as it gets a bit heavy, you start like wheezing outta the position in order to get the bar up. Yeah . Because intention is get the bar from here to here. Yes. And your shoulders will hike up a little bit. Maybe you’ll lean into one side. Like your positioning is just not optimal. Flip that and take a, the same movement pattern, but a body weight variation push up , correct. Right. Or a ring push up or a deficit push up . And all of a sudden you have to be very aware of the positioning of your entire body. You’re gotta have your pelvis tuck , glutes, engaged , abs tight ribcage down shoulders are set. You know, like there’s a lot going on. So the coordination I would argue for something like the body weight approach is much greater. It’s harder. Yeah. And so if we’re looking at like the carryover to jujitsu, I would undoubtedly say that the body weight, one’s way more bang for buck because you are having to build that whole body connection and awareness. Definitely. And it , you know, and it’s not to say like, well look, yeah. If you’ve got five days of strength training per week, chucks and bench pressing great. But if like most of us, you wanna be at jujitsu as much as possible. And you’re like, well , I’m happy to go do some weights couple times. Well , I wouldn’t waste my time on bench press. Yeah. And work on things that are gonna give you more for that time. And part of the reason why I was gonna say don’t bench press for BJ. And we’ve talked about this before, you know, and it’s not, it’s not to Bo you guys, but think this for the best part, most people who do Brazilian jujitsu don’t have the best posture. Their shoulders are internally rotated already. They don’t have, seems like your shoulders are rolled. Yeah. It’s almost like you’re semi. Yeah . You know, you’re in this kind of position, you are loading that up. And the specifically with a barbell bench press, you are like slightly internally rotated in terms of how you load the bar. That’s, what’s terrible in terms of biceps, tendon, and shoulder and all that. If you can turn your hand , so it’s more neutral. So if we think it’s more like palms facing each other, like that, that’s way better for your shoulder. Yeah . You know, and yes, you can do a kind of underhand grip, underhand grip , super NA grip, suicide grip. That’s fine. But that’s very uncommon. Just know that your ability to place your hands in a push up or a dip is far more optimal than an internal rotated position, which is much more likely to lead to injury. Jujitsu itself will possibly lead to injury. You don’t wanna spend time reinforcing movements in the gym, which can cause injury and barbell bench press specifically can put you there if you do it too much. Well said my guy . Thank you, Joe. Thank you my brother, guys. Thanks for listening. If you need help with your strength training and you want check out our program, go to Bulletproof for bjj.com. Uh , you can sign up for a free trial. You can use the discount code BJ J podcast, and you’ll get 20% off your subscription. We’ve got flexibility and strength programs, various different ones that suit your situation. Go in, sign up. If you’ve got any questions, hit JT and I , and we’ll see you on the inside. Yes , sir . You .