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Discussing the use of the Latissimus-Gluteus Maximus myofascial sling during bench press

February 28, 2012

In this clip taken at a recent F.A.P. ‘Spine’ seminar in Toronto, Canada, Dr. Spina discusses the concept of ‘bending the bar’ during the execution of the bench press.  The benefits of this action lie in the activation of the Latissimus Dorsi-Gluteus Maximus myofascial sling in order to:

1.  Reduce the angle of Glenohumeral joint abduction – as is noted, excessive abduction (to 90 degrees which is commonly seen) places unnecessary stress on the long head of the biceps leading to debilitating injuries such as bicipital tenosynovitis.

2.  Engage the sling in order to stabilize the core during the lift – this helps to lock in the lumbar lordosis needed during the bench press – see figure.  This sling was described by Andry Vleeming et.  Connection between the Latissimus Dorsi and the contralateral gluteus maximus is most pronounced between eh L4-S2 segments by way of the thoracolumbar fascial

3.  Engage the lower body musculature in order to hold the lumbar lordosis – this helps the athlete to better utilize the principal of irradiation which states that muscular contraction can be amplified by engaging surrounding musculature.  Which experienced powerlifters, their entire body is in tension during a lift such that every muscle in their body is engaged.

Not discussed in the video, but worth mentioning for completion sake, is the importance of holding an increased inter abdominal pressure (IAP) during any lift.  This helps to both increase strength generation, and to solidify the spine in order to prevent injury.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. ben permalink
    February 29, 2012 3:28 am

    Thanks for the great tip Dr Spina. No wonder, i feel some pain when doing pushups the ‘normal’ way. The bench press motion you mentioned squeezing the bar, would it be better to use dumbells? The motion would then be something like partial flyes (to move the weight down to chest) *but* elbows kinda in like holding a steering wheel?
    secondly, wouldnt it be dangerous to arch the lumbar area while carrying a heavy load?

    many thanks once again!

    • February 29, 2012 1:00 pm

      Hi Ben

      No, it would not necessarily be better to utilize dumbbells…it really depends on your goals. Both are worth while exercises, the bar, better for power, dumbbells, better for stability.

      Secondly, the arch would not be dangerous for the lumbar spine, in fact, it is a protective measure….in addition to this it lessens the length of the bar path which is essential for powerlifters as it increases the ability to push heavier loads. Lumbar lordosis decreases spinal penalty (so long as it is not excessive and not out of what we refer to a ‘neutral spine posture’). What is dangerous however is when people bench with their feet up on the bench. this causes a posterior pelvic tilt which compresses the disc’s. Add to this the high pressure exerted during the ‘stress’ of the lift, and you have a recipe for injury.

      thanks for the question


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