This week University of Southern California football running back, Stafon Johnson, was bench pressing during training when the bar slipped out of his hands and landed on his throat causing severe laryngeal as well as neck injuries.
The bench press is a great exercise to build your pectoral (chest), triceps, biceps and deltoids (main shoulder) muscles. The exercise is used in training for many athletes in numerous sports, but especially in football. Johnson therefore would have bench pressed numerous times before and also had a coach or fellow athlete spotting him at the time of the accident. I am sure Johnson was using good technique and the accident was very unfortunate rather than a mistake on the athlete or trainers part. In most cases when a the bar slips during bench press it lands on the chest and causes much less damage. According to his doctor, Johnson should make a full recovery.
However it is important to understand that the use proper technique can help athletes avoid injuries such as tendon or muscle tears as well as build themuscles more effectively.
Below is a video of strongman Derek Poundstone from the USA bench pressing 500lb. Lets take a look at his technique.
Before we begin to analyze this video remember that when doing the bench press, always have a spotter, someone to help steady the bar or pull it up if you need it. We can see Derek’s spotter watching carefully as he bench presses. It is also important to start with a low weight and test your ability before increasing the weight. very few athletes can bench press anywhere near 500 lbs. So start low, even if the bar is too low weight, you can always add more.
So here are some key points to note in the video above:
- Derek lays down under the bar and bends his knees drawing his feet up and pressing them into the floor. In doing this he creates a support base for his bench press and he is able to use his quadriceps (leg muscles on the front of his legs) to control his body and balance the bar. If he did not anchor his feet his body would be like a fulcrum with too much weight near the head and he would strain to balance the bar.
- Derek’s spotter helps him to lift the bar off the supports and align the bar directly over his shoulders. He therefore can lower and push the bar straight down and up, with little angle. This will ensure that he works the appropriate muscles to their full extent and avoids injuries that may be caused by using muscle force to push at an angle that would put excess and inappropriate strain on the muscles or joints.
- He lowers the bar straight down to his chest, just below the nipples (the bottom of the yellow image on his shirt). Once again this ensures that his arms lower the bar straight down and push it straight back up.
- Finally Derek’s spotter assists him in replacing the bar correctly. This is possibly where Stafon Johnson slipped and how the bar could have landed on his neck. You will see that Derek looks to make sure that the bar is properly supported on the hooks on both side of the support before relaxing and letting the bar go.
Before you start bench pressing, determine whether your goal is muscle mass or explosive power. You can build muscle mass with high weight and low repetitions or build explosive power by pressing a lower weight but increasing the number of repetitions. Whatever your goal is for doing the bench press, remember to use proper technique and spotter at all times.
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Source by Dudley Tabakin