This is Scary Stuff! Bench Press Injury to Stafon Johnson

If you have not seen the article on the football player from the University of Southern California being injured while doing bench press, here is a link to one. While doing a team weight training workout he lost the bar out of his right hand and the bar fell straight onto his neck.

Here is an article that gives you more of the details of the injury from ESPN. It sounds like the player was just doing a routine set of bench when the bar slipped out of his right hand and came crashing down on his throat. He did have someone right there spotting him but unless you are truly prepared there is no way you can catch the bar before it would hit the player. How scary this moment must have been not only for the player obviously but also the coach spotting him.

stafonjohnsonWe have discussed many times throughout this blog about the dangers of some of the various moves. I remember awhile back I got drilled by some people for my comments about barbell squats but here again is the example of what I am talking about. I realize I am in the minority when it comes to my beliefs on weight training in regards to athletics but I have taken the time to learn that in all honesty the Bench press is overrated.

I believe that the Bench press is an excellent tool to be used as a test of upper body strength but it is just not that practical to be used as the primary source of strength training for the chest and in many training systems, the entire upper body.

During my nearly twenty years of training athletes for speed and power I have learned how not to do a significant number of things in the training world. One of the major ones that I have learned is to limit and in some cases eliminate the potential risk of injury in my athletes. I understand that there are accidents like this one that do occur and they are rare but there a many other less dramatic injuries that happen in the weight room much more frequently.

For the longest time I too believed that the Bench was the gold standard of weight training. All through High School and College I was led to believe that my rank in the world as a man was based on what my bench press max was. How stupid I was but ultimately it was what I was taught. Once I had a chance to really understand how to train the human body for true strength and power I realized how limited the bench actually was.

One quick example I’ll share was back in 1998 I was working at a local High School. A Sophomore football player was in the weight room doing his typical sets of bench, squats, cleans, and dead lifts. He was having major injury issues on the field and struggling with issues in the weight room as well. We completely tok him off all weights and had him do body weight training only for about 3 months, then we started to mix back in lifting but using dumbbells only. He continued this all the way through graduation.

When he stopped lifting as a sophomore he had a max of around 235 pounds. Not bad for a sophomore who weighed about 180 pounds. He decided to go to Montana State University and walk on to their football program. He became really stresses when he found out he would need to bench for the coaches when he arrived. I told him not to worry so he did the test and maxed out at 350 pounds while weighing about 195 pounds. So without any bench press at all for over 2 years and his max still went up by over 100 pounds.

We have been wanting to build you a bench press program for awhile and this story reminded me of it. We will be discussing it in detail soon but trust us, it will be worth the wait.

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