Welcome to 2017! Time to ring in the new year with Move of the Week, so let’s get right into it.
THE MOVE: Split-stance Incline Cable Press
MOVEMENT PATTERN AND MUSCLES WORKED: Horizontal push: chest, shoulders, core.
WHY DO IT: Like bench presses and push-ups, today’s move is a horizontal pushing movement. Although the incline does makes it somewhat of a vertical push as well, I do think that the move is more akin to a bench press than a shoulder press. That being said, there are benefits on both sides of the horizontal-vertical spectrum.
One of the most crucial technical elements of the bench press, as we outlined here, is locking down the shoulder blades on the bench to create a stable platform to bench from. This effectively eliminates the ability of the shoulder blades to move on the ribcage, but it also shortens the range of motion on the bench press, which is great for hitting big numbers in a powerlifting competition. Simply put, a shorter distance means less work.
The shoulder blades are meant to move however, so outside of the bench press and their variations, it’s important to train them to do so. This is why push-ups are great. In a push-up, your hands are rooted to the floor, but your shoulder blades are free to move. From there it’s all a matter of locking down the proper scapulo-humeral rhythm and retraction-protraction of the shoulder blades.
Today’s move takes this concept one step further. Using a cable column or functional trainer allows the shoulder blades to go through a full range of motion. Because we are reaching forward and up in this incline press, the shoulder blades are also required to upwardly rotate–not just protract and retract. Compared to push-ups, there is greater involvement of the serratus anterior in this exercise. It teaches you what a proper reach should feel like, and when it comes to shoulder health, the arm goes where the shoulder blade goes. Because of this, the Incline Cable Press also benefits overhead mechanics and vertical pressing movements, as well.
HOW TO DO IT: This move works best with a cable column or functional trainer that allows you to use both columns. Hook both ends of the straight bar to the cable columns and adjust them so that the bar rests at chest height. Hold the bar in both hands like you would for a bench press, and take a split-stance with your feet and a slight lean forward.
While keeping your ribs in line with your pelvis (don’t flare), press the bar up and away from your chest at an incline. Focus on reaching forward and up to encourage motion of the scapula, especially protraction and upward rotation. You should feel activation of your serratus right underneath your armpit. Bring the bar back down to your chest and repeat for reps.
by Jeremy Lau
Jeremy Lau is a Senior Staff Coach at Halevy Life.
Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and received his Master’s in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).
Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.
As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.