You may have found that your bench press isn’t improving anymore. You are training often and regularly, and you have a spotter or training partner but you still feel as though you aren’t making the lifts or progress you want. Tennis balls might just be the answer you have been looking for. More than likely it’s that your form is breaking down when the weight gets heavy, and this is where mobility balls can assist you on your journey.


How do tennis balls actually work?


Tennis balls have an effect similar to that of a massage. They work by releasing those chronically tight muscles in your back that prevent you from arching your thoracic spine and retracting your shoulder blades when you bench press and shoulder press. Once you have improved your ability to achieve these positions you will soon be able to perform a much stronger platform bench-press form. So now you know how they work to improve your bench, it’s time to discuss how to use them!


Step 1

Start by placing the tennis balls on the floor so they fit comfortably on each side of your spine. Next, you will need to grab a light kettle bell with both hands and lie on your back. Rest against the balls so they dig into your back, roughly around three inches below your shoulder blades. Bend your knees 90 degrees. Hold the kettle bell above your chest.


Step 2

Breathe in and crunch

Take a deep breath into your lungs and then slowly let it out as you do a crunch. Remember to drive your back into the balls as you curl that torso up a few inches. Lift the bell overhead as you rise. Your lower back must remain against the floor.


Step 3

Repeat Along Entire Back

Slowly lower your torso and the weight back down. That’s one rep. Do five reps, and then move your body down an inch or so to target the upper back. Repeat once more so you’re pressing right below the shoulder blades.


Step 4

Integrate some dumbbells


Now that you’ve mastered the crunch, grab a pair of medium weight dumbbells and proceed to adopt the same starting position that you used before – from here, elevate the dumbbells so that they are suspended above your body in line with the shoulders with the palms facing towards your feet.


Step 5

The dumbbell press


Now that you’re in the right position, it’s time to perform a dumbbell press to help iron out the flaws you may have in regards to your bench form. From the elevated position, bend the elbows down to 90 degrees and lower the arms until the dumbbells rest in line with the shoulders – now proceed to raise them back into the starting position and repeat the movement for a total of ten repetitions.


This combination of exercises will help you to fully integrate your shoulder blades and “prime” your body for bench-pressing movements via synergising your core activity with your upper body stability.


Go and start practicing!

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Betsy Smith

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