The Forgotten Muscle in Benching: Lats

When we look at the movement of the bench press (Figure 1), we often think of the pectorals (or chest muscles) being the primary muscles involved in the movement. Though this is true, other muscles also contribute to the bench press such as triceps and anterior deltoids, as well as rotate cuff musculature  to assist in stabilizing the shoulder girdle.

Figure 1: Bench press

A particular muscle that is often ignored in the bench press are the lats (Figure 2). The lats are a large, broad muscle that has multiple actions – shoulder extension, shoulder adduction, shoulder internal rotation and lateral trunk flexion (when contracted in isolation). If we combine three of the above movements, we can promote humeral (shoulder bone) depression, thoracic extension and place the shoulder girdle complexes in a stable position to press.

Figure 2: Latissimus Dorsi (Lats)

Learning how to engage the lats in the bench press is an acquired skill that can be learned through appropriate activities and movements taught by our experienced physical therapists at our Kew Gardens, Glendale or Manhasset locations. Book an assessment today and let’s start moving the bar as efficiently as possible.

Christian Cardenas, DPT, CSCS


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