The Scarecrow

Apart from being revered by their gym peers, looking good in wife-beater undershirts, and having superhot girlfriends, guys who can bench a lot of weight usually have one other thing in common: shoulder pain. That’s because the bench press can be murder on your shoulders if they’re not properly conditioned to press heavy loads. Over time, weaknesses in your shoulder muscles can even lead to serious problems, including a loss in your shoulders’ range of motion, reduced benching strength, and an increased risk of injury. Fortunately, you can reverse the damage and promote even better benching by adding this new move-the scarecrow-to your lifting routine.

Grab a light weight plate in each hand and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Brace your abs and bend at the knees and hips (keep your lower back arched) until your torso is nearly parallel to the floor. Let your arms hang straight down. Row the weights to the sides of your torso until your upper arms are in line with your body (you should finish with a 90-degree bend in your elbows) [1]. Now rotate your forearms until the weights are in line with your head [2]. From there, press the weights straight out in front of you [3]. Slowly return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do three sets of 10-12 reps, resting 60 seconds between sets.

Though you’ll look like a limp scarecrow that’s falling off its post, each rep will have you strengthening your rotator cuff-the most important stabilizing muscle group for benching. You’ll also straighten out your shoulder posture, which will help make your chest look just as big as those of the aforementioned bench kings, without putting you at the same risk for pain.

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