Bench Press, Bikram yoga… meh, same thing

Posted on May 31, 2012. Filed under: Exercise | Tags: , , , , , , |

On the same day I was asked my opinion about Bikram yoga and the Bench Press. And I was surprised when I realized I was giving the same answer to both questions.


I find simple parallels like that interesting, being a fitness nerd.


Any way since I am more familiar with the Bench Press I will start my explanation from that end.


For those who don’t know the bench press is the “king of chest exercises” and the bane of functional coaches everywhere. Correction, the bane of those who *call* themselves functional coaches everywhere.


I really think that terminology is silly though, as if any professional coach purposely wants their client to be dysfunctional any way…


Depending on whom you talk to or what article you read the Bench Press is either glorious or stupid. So which side is right, they both are. It just depend on your goal.


As coach Dan John would say, “the goal is the goal is the goal.” It’s amazing how the longer I coach the more brilliant Dan John becomes.


You will hear ‘functional’ coaches spout off about how bad the Bench Press is for you.

  • You’re lying down when does that happen in real life?
  • Name a sport where anything similar to the bench press occurs?
  • Guys who are good at bench pressing are built like 2 liter bottles with T-rex arms.
  • It’s bad for your shoulders
  • No great athlete was a great bench presser

And so on and so forth.


It all sounds legitimate and science-y, but I always want to ask these guy how much cn they bench press. It’s really easy to knock something you aren’t good at.


Now do I bench press? Yes.

Do I have my client bench press? No. Why? It’s not their goal.


My clients come to me more often than not with goals of fat loss, and the bench press is not a good idea in that category for multiple reasons:

  1. I need to use as many muscles as possible during a workout. True a proper bench pres is actually a full body exercise. But the learning curve to get the body awareness for my clients takes too long for me. Especially when I can get a similar effect from Push-Ups
  2. Rounded Posture. Most clients who come to me are quad dominant and weak along their back muscles. Again, because of the learning curve of technique, it’s better to start a client off with something like a push up.
  3. Lying Down. The last thing any of my clients need to be doing is exercise where they sit down or lay down. They need to be moving, supporting their weight and tuning in to their own bodies.


Now should you be doing bench press.? Well, what is the goal.


If the goal is to get good at bench pressing, that could take some time. And you really need to have some perspective on that. Unless you can bench press more than 2x your body weight you’re not even average by mot powerlifting standards. And that goes for men and women.

This lovely lady is 132 lbs, and benches 305. Just saying.

If the goal is athleticism, depends on the sport. Football, you have to because it’s part of the standard testing they do. Whereas something like Basketball or Volleyball it would be used more to balance out push/pull work.


Fat Loss, I’d still work in some dumbbell Press work, but I’d only use the Bench Press as a change of pace, it would not be a foundation exercise like squats or deadlifts. I’d probably focus more on a Military or Push Press since you can do it standing and there is a greater metabolic/postural benefit in my opinion.


So how does Bikram yoga come in to play with this. Well Bench Press is merely a tool, nothing special or magical, same as Bikram yoga.


Now biases up front I am more of a Tai Chi guy, combine that with an Alaskan upbringing and the idea of willingly going into a 100-degree room without a frozen lake nearby is just alien to me.


That said, just like people make too big a deal about the bench press they do the same with Bikram yoga. It’s a tool, nothing more nothing less, if it works for you great, if it doesn’t forget about it.


If you believe it detoxes you, more power to you. I disagree, but I respect your choice to find your path to health.



Keep fitness Groovy,

Coach W



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