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Roman gladiators have been portrayed on the big screen by some of largest chest structures that Hollywood could produce. Even a few real-life strongmen have dawned the Roman garbs and mounted a chariot or two to fulfill this fantasy role. In the movies, a barreled thick chest of a gladiator is often covered with thick metal plating, so that the chest appears to be invincible in battle. However, a serious weightlifter cannot hide behind a gladiator’s armor, so his chest must be thick and square from the bottom of the ribcage to the top of the clavicle. The fibers of the pectoralis of the chest must have thickness along the sternum and not just be thick along the lateral edge of this muscle. A well-trained, thick chest should scream power and command attention, even if you are away from the gym and fully clothed. Does yours?

For the most part, massive slabs can be added to your chest with a lot less effort than that which you must expend in thigh and back muscles. It is a bit more difficult to push the thickness along the inner side of your sternum, but certainly, this in an achievable goal. The flat bench press is pretty good at activating a wide range of muscle mass, but it is particularly good at stressing the most lateral parts of the chest. However, a small change to the bench press can turn the focus from the outside to the inside of the chest. That simply is taking a closer grip on the barbell for your bench presses. Close-grip benches can be equally brutal for both the triceps. As you approach your last set, this exercise can make your posterior arm and the medial parts of the pectoralis major of your chest feel like you are driving knives through these muscle bellies. Perhaps not a pleasant feeling, but definitely a great result will be in store if you stick it out.

The pectoralis major muscle is shaped like a fan, which spreads across the entire chest to the humerus bone of the upper arm. It attaches to and moves the arm through the shoulder (glenohumeral) joint. The pectoralis major muscle has two heads. The clavicular head lies along the anterior lower surface of the clavicle (collarbone). The sternocostal head of the pectoralis major muscle begins on the manubrium (the top portion of the sternum), the upper six costal cartilages (cartilages at the ends of the ribs that attach to the sternum). It also attaches to the tendon-like portion of the superior part of the external oblique muscle (a lateral muscle of the abdominal wall). The clavicular and sternocostal heads converge on a groove near the head of the humerus (intertubercular groove) near the shoulder joint. The sternocostal head is preferentially activated by close-grip bench presses.

Both heads of the pectoralis major muscle adduct the humerus bone (draws the arm toward the midline of the body) and they medially rotate the humerus at the shoulder joint. They also flex the humerus bone by moving the upper arm anteriorly (or toward the front of the body), and this is the major function achieved in a bench press. By moving the hands close together, the arms are adducted and the inner parts of the pectoralis muscles are activated most strongly in this hand position.

The triceps are also hammered quite intensely with close-grip bench presses. As its name implies, the triceps has three parts (tri = three) or heads (ceps = heads). The fibers in all three muscle heads taper to attach to a common triceps tendon that crosses the elbow joint to attach to the olecrenon on the ulna bone of the forearm. Therefore, contraction of the triceps brachii muscle primarily causes extension of the forearm at the elbow (straightens the elbow joint). Some people have a short triceps tendon and the triceps muscle belly appears to extend all the way to the elbow. Others have a relatively long triceps tendon, which gives them a more “peaked” triceps, but a short muscle belly. The lateral head of triceps brachii creates the lateral part of the “U” in the horseshoe of the triceps. Its fibers run from a small vertical section of bone on the posterior part of the humerus (upper arm bone), starting about two-thirds of the way toward the shoulder joint and stopping short of the shoulder joint. The long head of the triceps brachii (the “inner head” in gym lingo) begins on the scapula (shoulder blade) just inferior to (below) the head of the humerus at the shoulder joint. Because this muscle belly crosses the shoulder joint posteriorly, the arm should be moved posteriorly into shoulder extension (i.e., arms and elbows back) to fully activate this muscle head. This happens very well in the down position of close-grip bench presses. The medial head of the triceps brachii lies deeper and between the other two heads of the triceps. It encompasses two-thirds of the upper and posterior part of the humerus bone. It is a very thick muscle further up the arm toward the shoulder and provides enormous depth to the curved “U” part of this horseshoe; however, it has a shorter muscle belly than the other heads and this gives the appearance of the hollowed-out center part of the horseshoe near the elbow.

Close-Grip Barbell Bench Presses

1. Place an Olympic-style barbell on the weight stand of a flat bench. Load the barbell so that you can get 10-12 repetitions. You should warm up the shoulders and chest with a light set or two first before hitting the heavy stuff.

2. Lie supine on the bench. Place your hands on the bar with a pronated grip (palms facing to the ceiling and away from your face). Grab the barbell with your hands a little narrower than shoulder width. This will be about 8-12 inches apart for most people. Some people prefer a thumbless grip. This does not affect your chest any differently, but you will have to be a bit more careful with balancing the bar with a thumbless grip.

3. Lift the weight from off of the stands by extending (straightening) the elbows. A training partner can be used to lift the bar for you so it is over your shoulders. Make sure that you are in control of the weight in this position before going to the next step.

4. Slowly lower the bar in a slight arch, so that the bar moves from closer to your feet at the top and closer (slightly), to your chin at the bottom. The weight should move from over the shoulders to a position where it just barely makes contact with your chest at the nipple (the fifth intercostal space). You should inhale as the weight is lowered to the chest in a slow and controlled fashion.

5. Without making a strong contact with your ribcage (and never bouncing the bar on your chest), immediately explode upward with the bar. Move it in a slight arch toward your head so that the weight is returned to a position immediately under the shoulder joint. Exhale during the ascent of the barbell. Make sure that your training partner hangs around until the end of the set in case you get stuck with the bar across your chest.


The close-grip bench press clearly involves more than just chest muscles. It strongly activates the anterior fibers of the deltoid and the triceps brachii as the weight is moved upward. The intercostal muscles are active during the forceful inhaling and exhaling. The serratus anterior is active to stabilize and protract the scapula during the lift upward (flexion of the humerus at the shoulder). Even the latissimus dorsi and teres major muscles of the upper back are active, both as stabilizers for the shoulder and when the humerus is extended at the shoulder.

Aside from the safety problems common to all free-weight exercises, any flat bench press, including close-grip benches, can aggravate or induce rotator cuff irritation – especially if you get a little sloppy in your form. That is because these muscles limit movement of the glenohumeral joint posteriorly (and the rotator cuff muscles prevent this posterior location) as the bar is being lowered. Obviously, the greater the resistance and the more times it is done, the more potential irritation is imposed to the rotator cuff muscles. Nevertheless, if your form is excellent, you should be able to benefit from the advantages of the positive effects of close-grip bench presses without tapping into any of the negative potentials.

Neglecting your inner chest is training suicide, and certainly a great body is not complete without fully developed and thick chest muscles. Proper selection of your torso exercises will give you the ability to develop a supercharged and balanced chest, without inducing any injury. Close-grip benches are an outstanding way to pack mass on your triceps while simultaneously packing enough mass on your chest to make any gladiator envious.


Jandacka D and Vaverka F. A regression model to determine load for maximum power output. Sports Biomech, 7: 361-371, 2008.

Koshida S, Urabe Y, Miyashita K, Iwai K and Kagimori A. Muscular outputs during dynamic bench press under stable versus unstable conditions. J Strength Cond Res, 22: 1584-1588, 2008.

Martins J, Tucci HT, Andrade R, Araujo RC, Bevilaqua-Grossi D and Oliveira AS. Electromyographic amplitude ratio of serratus anterior and upper trapezius muscles during modified push-ups and bench press exercises. J Strength Cond Res, 22: 477-484, 2008.

Moore, KL and AF Dalley. Clinically Oriented Anatomy. Fourth edition. Baltimore, Lippincott Williams & Williams, 685-720, 1999.

Norwood JT, Anderson GS, Gaetz MB and Twist PW. Electromyographic activity of the trunk stabilizers during stable and unstable bench press. J Strength Cond Res, 21: 343-347, 2007.

Rambaud O, Rahmani A, Moyen B and Bourdin M. Importance of upper-limb inertia in calculating concentric bench press force. J Strength Cond Res, 22: 383-389, 2008.

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By: Stephen E. Alway, Ph.D., FACSM
Title: Want Bigger Arms and a Massive Chest?
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Published Date: Fri, 02 Jul 2021 12:29:04 +0000

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Mens Health

Failures in Business: The Unseen Stepping Stones to Success

Equally significant is the need for businesses to remain vigilant about broader shifts in both domestic and global markets. Macro factors, whether they’re economic trends, geopolitical events, or emerging global challenges, can have profound ripple effects, impacting even the most niche industries. By staying abreast of these larger market dynamics, businesses can better anticipate risks, adapt to challenges, and capitalize on new opportunities. In an ever-globalizing world, the ability to navigate both the nuances of one’s immediate market and the broader global shifts is what separates thriving enterprises from those that falter.

TACTICAL Takeaway: Stay sharp and monitor your industry’s trends. When things shift, being ahead in understanding consumer habits offers you the flexibility to adjust and succeed. Things can change rapidly and the sooner you have insight into consumer behavior changes, the more opportunities you have to pivot.


Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

The sports nutrition industry is an interesting, fast-paced vertical where what’s old can quickly become new again but also what worked yesterday likely won’t work tomorrow.

It might seem counterintuitive, but it’s spot-on. Take creatine as an example. It hit the shelves in the early 1990s and quickly became a hit. Yet, a decade later, its demand had waned. Jump another decade to today, and it’s back more popular than ever.

TACTICAL Takeaway: The key for businesses is knowing when to go all-in on a product and when to ease off, as it’s the ever-changing consumer market that truly drives demand.

Never Rest On Your Laurels

Just because something “has always worked” doesn’t mean it’s going to continue to work (or continue to work as efficiently).

In the dynamic world of business, the saying “never rest on your laurels” holds more truth than ever. What propelled a company to success yesterday might not necessarily be the formula for its tomorrow’s success. Market demands, technological innovations, and consumer preferences are in a perpetual state of evolution. While a particular strategy or product might have been a game-changer at one point, there’s no guarantee that it will remain relevant or effective in the future. This inherent unpredictability underscores the need for adaptability and forward-thinking in any business endeavor.

This reality pushes companies to be proactive, always forecasting and adjusting to the next potential shift. Relying solely on past successes can lull businesses into complacency, risking obsolescence in the face of changing tides.

TACTICAL Takeaway: To remain competitive and relevant, businesses need to cultivate a culture of continuous learning, innovation, and agility. In essence, the past can inform and guide, but it’s the vision and readiness for the future that will determine enduring success.

Embracing The Journey

To any entrepreneur reading this: the road to success is rarely a straight one. At times, it may seem like every decision leads to a dead end. But remember, every misstep is an opportunity to learn, grow, and pivot.

The trials you face in business are not meant to discourage you. Instead, they are meant to shape you, refine your vision, and improve your strategy. As the age-old adage goes, “smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.” It’s the challenges that will arm you with the experience and resilience necessary for long-term success.

So, the next time you face a setback, remember that your next big success could be just around the corner. Embrace failure as a part of the process, learn from your mistakes, and continue pushing forward with a renewed sense of purpose and determination.

Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the journey. With so much time spent working and navigating challenges, it’s essential to find joy and have fun along the way.


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Negativity Is a Losing Mindset

By Marc Lobliner


‘A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.’

I coach my son’s U11 football team. I am just the line coach, but the dudes who coach with me are also in the same mindset as I am.

Positivity wins.

Let’s start off with last weekend’s game.

It’s 0-0, the opening kickoff is a short one and we fall on it.

You can hear our coaches getting our kids fired up and getting the offense ready for play. POSITIVE statements. A lot of “Let’s Go!” and energy.

On the other sideline, you hear the coaches angrily yelling at their players for the execution of the kick.

First play from scrimmage, our line makes every block and opens the outside for our running back to score.

You hear their coaches furiously yelling as we celebrate.

We celebrated and our fullback punched in the extra point.

After the kickoff, our defense held them to four and out. We got the ball again, touchdown. Extra point good.

14-0 in two offensive plays.s

Their coaches were still mad. Angry. Yelling.

We smiled, encouraged our kids, and ended up with a 42-0 mercy-rule win.

Our players are awesome, but not the biggest, not the fastest, not the strongest.

It’s all about culture and what you’re playing for.

We demand a lot of our athletes. Learn your plays, DO YOUR JOB, and we will win.

Every Tuesday after we win, I buy my linemen doughnuts and give them to everyone, telling them that a random lineman (changes weekly) said everyone deserves doughnuts. We don’t punish every mistake with extra running and up-downs. We focus on what we do RIGHT, and not what we do wrong.

The other game one of my linemen got called for a hold. He came off the field expecting to be scolded. I put my arm around him and said, “What happened?” He explained it and then I said, “You’re better than that guy, you don’t need to hold. Show the world how dominant you are!” He didn’t get one call the rest of the game and crushed it.

This is also my management style at work. Managers are usually garbage. You can do 1,000 things right and you mess up once and your manager attacks you.

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Employees typically respond better to positivity, and numerous studies have found that positive reinforcement and a positive work environment can significantly improve employee motivation, performance, and well-being. Here are some reasons why, supported by various studies:

Increased Productivity: According to a study conducted by the University of Warwick, happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers were 10% less productive. The research shows that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity.

Better Decision-Making Abilities: Research from the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center found that individuals who were induced to feel positive emotions were better at problem-solving and making decisions than those in a neutral state.

Boosts Creativity: Positive emotions widen attention and allow people to think more broadly and openly. This is discussed in the “broaden-and-build theory” by Barbara Fredrickson, which suggests that positive emotions broaden an individual’s momentary thought-action repertoires.

Enhanced Team Collaboration: A study from MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory found that teams that communicate effectively, with members actively reaching out and connecting with all other team members, were more successful. Positive interactions contribute to this dynamic.

Reduced Employee Turnover: According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a positive work environment and culture encourages employees to stay longer in their jobs, thus reducing turnover rates. This is KEY at where our staff has mostly been there for 5+ years!

Better Health & Well-being: A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that positive work environments and low job stress are linked to better health outcomes for employees, which in turn can lead to reduced absenteeism and increased productivity.

Increased Engagement: According to Gallup, workers who are engaged and have high well-being are more likely to be attached to their organizations and are more productive.

Enhanced Learning & Flexibility: Research in the field of positive psychology has shown that positive emotions can facilitate adaptive thinking and flexibility in cognitive processing. This helps employees adapt to new situations and learn more effectively.

Higher Levels of Satisfaction: A study by BrightHR found that happiness is a key indicator of job satisfaction. Happy employees are more likely to report high levels of satisfaction with their jobs than those who report low levels of happiness.

Creates a Positive Feedback Loop: A study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology found that experiencing positive emotions leads to higher levels of resilience, which in turn leads to increased positive emotions. This positive feedback loop has a myriad of beneficial effects in the workplace.

How about parenting?

Same thing. PRAISE YOUR CHILD! Make sure they know you love them. While bad behavior should be addressed, be sure to also reward good behavior. Kid had a good day at school? Get him ice cream! Tell him you love him. Say you’re proud of him.

As my mother said, “You catch more flies with honey than with crap.”

And one can’t deny the lifelong impact of a good coach. As the sign in the office says, “A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.”

Be positive and be a winner!

556494785 img 1682 2

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Panatta Super Rowing Page 1

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