Who’s Driving The Bus?

I am quite sure the title of this article brings a slew of connotations to your mind. What I’m not sure about is if you have ever it told in the way I will presently describe. 

Let me preface by saying that while the accounts are true, the story being told is not meant to demean or belittle anyone’s efforts, but to provide a teachable point of view, from which we can all learn from. 

I was working out in the gym, when I noticed an acquaintance doing dumbbell chest press with 40 pounds. If you have read any of my previous articles, you will know that there are two things non-negotiable with me.  

Strict form, coupled with efficient movement are the foundation by which I teach. Proper techniques are essential for muscle growth, injury prevention, and are the bedrock of all the training programs I design.  

Before the individual had a chance to perform the chest press again. I summoned him to a bench that had just become unoccupied. I showed him three positions to set the bench. Decline, flat, and a slight incline. I explained that a slight incline was more favorable to eliminate unnecessary stress on his shoulders. 

I asked him to repeat his dumbbell bench press, but with a lighter weight. It was President’s Day and of course the gym was inundated with college students. So, the only weight available to my acquaintance was 27.5 dumbbells.  

I watched intently as he set up to lift the dumbbells. I noted every aspect of his form. I winced when he sat upright on the bench at the end of his set, dragging the weight in an uncontrollable and uncoordinated manner.  

I picked up a pair of 50-pounds dumbbells. I had wanted a lesser pair in weight, for the sake of demonstrating, but as I stated earlier, the gym was overrun by college kids. Whom, by the way, showed no signs of possessing any gym etiquette.

I sat on the bench. A dumbbell on each leg. I took a deep breath. Fell back onto the bench. I positioned my hands wide until I felt a stretch on my pecs and drove my lats into the bench. A dumbbell in each hand resting on my palms.  

I began from the sticking point and pressed the dumbbells upwards. Stopping before locking out on the concentric movement, and an inch from my chest on the eccentric movement. Four seconds on the lowering phase and exploding back up. I brought my legs to meet the dumbbells at the conclusion of the twelfth rep and placed them back onto the rack.  

I asked my acquaintance if he noticed anything different. He claimed that he did, and so I asked him to perform the bench press again, but this time to include the changes he had seen. He performed it the same way as he did before, which prompted me to tell him to pick a lighter weight.

I instructed him on how to fall back onto the bench. I wanted his feet planted firmly on the ground. I wanted him to rest a dumbbell in each palm. Moving them to the side until he felt a stretch on his pecs, and his lats being driven into the bench. 

“Press straight up,” I instructed, “Make sure to stop 3/4 of the way up, and slowly lower them, stopping an inch from your chest.” 

“You know I can bench more than this!” 

“What do you mean?” 

“If I hadn’t done decline barbell bench press. I would give you a run for your money?” 

“Are you able to lift 80’s?” 

“No, but I can lift more than these 22-pound dumbbells!” 

I was astounded by his remark. The pervading thought overwhelming my mind at that moment . . . 

Who the hell was driving this bus . . . 

B.M.Booth (NASM-CPT)