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JoeTraining series: Bench press does not mark your worth as a man

By RealJock Staff

RealJock proudly presents this four-month series of weekly training clinics with Steve Lischin of Joe Training. Joe Training represents some of New York City’s most sought-after and respected personal trainers, including Lischin, a former competitive bodybuilder whose celebrity and professional athlete clientele come to him to build the strong, healthy, and beautiful bodies they need for their careers. Each week, Lischin gives us detailed description of one of the seminal exercises from his workout plans. You can browse through these exercises to learn proper form and technique, then incorporate them into your own workout routine. Be sure to keep your eye out for interesting variations on exercises you haven’t seen before, and learn about the pitfalls you need to avoid to prevent painful injury.

No, the weight of your rack on the bench press isn’t the measure of your worth as a man. “People make the mistake of looking at the bench press as their mark as a human being,” NYC’s hottest trainer Steve Lischin said. “It’s generally not that.”

Save your low back and shoulders while building a beautiful chest with the dumbbell bench press. Dumbbell bench press is safer, according to Lischin. It’s important to have enough resistance to challenge you, but not enough to compromise your form and tax your shoulders and low back.

Compromising posture for the sake of packing on the pounds is a common side effect of the traditional barbell bench press. “With barbell on a bench, people damage their shoulders by lifting at the wrong angle or lower back by arching it to lift more reps,” he said. Save your low back and shoulders while building a beautiful chest with the dumbbell bench press.


“What I like to do before going into the bench press is warm up those muscles with push ups and variations of push ups,” Lischin said. Start with a basic push up with your hands under your shoulders, make sure your transverse abdominus (TVA) is tight, feet together, do 10 to15 repetitions to about a 90-degree bend in your arm. Try to keep a neutral spine and a tight core.

Next, do your push up with your feet on a stability ball. “This forces us to balance laterally and incorporate the core,” Lischin said. Do 10 to 15 repetitions.

But wait, there’s more! Place a small Plyoball under one hand and do a push up asymmetrically. Do 10 to 15 repetitions with ball on each side.

To make it even harder, from a conventional push up position, switch the Plyoball from hand to hand, rolling it to your other hand as you push up. Do 10 to 15 repetitions.

Here’s the ultimate tough guy chest challenge: Swap Plyoball from hand to hand while using the stability ball. “It’s a good idea to have a spotter to keep you from falling off the ball,” Lischin said. “The stability ball component makes an incredibly mundane exercise incredibly difficult. This is really advanced.” Do 10 to 15 repetitions (if you can).

“After this warm up, conventional chest exercises with weights don’t seem so hard,” Lischin said. “Your muscles are warm and ready to go.”

1. Lay with your shoulders on the stability ball, feet in front of you with a narrow base, raise your hips and press the dumbbells one at a time. “You’re not going to go quite as heavy, but you’ll get a lot more benefit using the ball,” Lischin said. “The stability ball functionalizes the exercise. Your core and transverse abdominus engage as you stabilize yourself. It’s harder. It incorporates muscles you wouldn’t normally use.”

2. Do 15 repetitions on lighter weights and 8-10 on the heavier weights. “Always choose good form over heavier weight,” Lischin cautions.

If you use a bench, lie on the bench and make sure dumbbells aren’t too heavy. Make sure they are over your chest. Don’t force the position. Let your elbows fall how they would naturally fall. Don’t go beyond a 90-degree angle.

Representing New York City's most highly sought personal trainers, Joe Training provides individualized training, yoga, and nutrition counseling to people who want to maximize their physical and mental well-being. Whether its clients want to boost their current training or yoga practice, get in shape for a special occasion, gear up for a sports event, or start a new fitness program, Joe Training identifies the most suitable coaching expert to get them there. Learn more about Joe Training’s individualized counseling services at

Steve Lischin has over 20 years experience as a private personal fitness instructor and nutrition counselor. A former bodybuilding champion with a masters degree in nutrition and certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, Lischin’s clientele includes professional athletes and teams, as well as actors and celebrities gearing up for major motion pictures and events. In addition to providing expert personal training services to his clients, Lischin has created and managed several in-house personal training departments in major health clubs in New York and New Jersey, including World Gyms of NYC. He can be reached on the web through