By Bob Perry- Rolling Strong
The key to injuries is preventing rather than curing them. Rehabili-tation after an injury can be a lengthy process and even worse, costly. Exercise and prevention are far less costly and can take little time.
While it might seem somewhat obscure to consider the chest as an area to cover, when you consider what this muscle does, how it is made up and how often it is used, it is as important as any muscle group in the body.
Your chest muscles are called your pectorals. They consist of the pectoralis major, which is a thick muscle, and the pectoralis minor, which is a thinner muscle positioned under the major. Basically, your chest muscles help stabilize your shoulder joints through different movements and use. So the stronger your chest is the less likely you are to have a shoulder injury.
These two muscle groups work in tandem during activities such as lifting or pushing a heavy load. So exercising your chest muscles will have benefits for when you are pushing and pulling boxes in your trailer or even lifting tarpaulins and straps onto the back of your flatbed. My experience tells me that flatbed haulers find a lot of benefits through utilizing a chest workout program.
As you’re working out your chest muscles and other muscle groups, be careful not to overwork them. It’s important to be cautious and as I always mention, seek proper medical attention if something doesn’t feel right. Remember, your muscle tissues are constantly breaking as you work out and they grow during downtime and rest periods. Developing a regular exercise routine with variation, setting realistic goals and sticking with it will put you on safe track to success.
Now it’s time to get the workout started.
First, always remember to do your warm-up. Take a lap around your truck and stretch your muscles. Five minutes is all it takes to prepare your body. Eventually, your body will react to the routine you adopt. It will be like your muscles jumping to attention as they know it is time to do some work.
Then, with your feet together, breathe in and raise your arms over your head while counting to four. Slowly exhale for a count of four, lowering your arms to your side. Repeat that move five times.
Next, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Slowly bend at the waist and let your arms hang loosely toward the ground. Don’t worry about touching your toes, just let your body gently stretch using its own weight. Never bounce! Breathe slowly and deeply for three breaths and then ease into the stretch with each exhalation. Slowly straighten back up, keeping your midsection tight and your back straight. Repeat the entire exercise three times.
As shown in the picture, I’m going to outline the proper technique in performing dumbbell chest presses. If you have access to a portable bench and adjustable dumbbells, find a weight that is manageable for you to start out with 10 reps for three sets. Make sure your back is flat on the bench and never arched. Place your feet firmly in place as shown but use your chest to push the weight, planting your feet for balance only.
Start in the down position and make sure your dumbbells are positioned just outside of your chest. Now push the weight straight up. Never lock your arms completely out so you maintain tension on the chest muscles at all times. As you push up, exhale. As you lower the weight back down, make sure to inhale fresh oxygen into your lungs.
No dumbbells or portable bench? No worries. You can do push-offs from your truck. Stand three feet away from your rig, place your hands on the fender and push off slowly, never locking your arms and keeping constant tension on your chest muscles. Your arms should be shoulder-width apart and your legs hip-width apart.
Next is the water bell fly. Stand up straight with your shoulders, back and abs tight. Place a bottle of water in each hand and hold them up in front of your chest with your arms extended out. Imagine wrapping your arms around a beach ball so your elbows are bent; hold that position. Then fly your arms back while maintaining your arms at chest height. Make sure you fly back enough to feel the stretch in your chest.
Stop when each bottle of water weight is in line with your chest and move back toward the center. Stop just before the water weights touch, once again maintaining tension on your chest muscle. Do one set of 10 and then take a lap around your rig.
As a way to work cardio training into your workout, complete these three exercises one after another, then take a 60-second rest and do another set. So, it’s lap first, push off your fender, then water bell fly. Once you can complete three sets at 10 reps then you’re ready to move up in reps.