International Chest Day
Walk into any gym, pretty much around the world on a Monday, and you’ll see one glaringly obvious similarity; everyone is training chest! The first day of the work week has been given the title of “International Chest Day” simply because it is the body part that separates the Alphas from the rest of the pack. If you have a big chest coupled with a big bench, you have effectively established dominance amongst your fellow lifters. It’s a great feeling being able to push massive weights on the bench and if all goes well, you have set yourself up mentally for a great week of training. The euphoric feeling of beating your best on the bench or being able to push more than anyone else around you will simply propel your psyche and motivation to a whole new level and make you want to do the same for the rest of your workouts that week. This approach to our training split has rubbed off on even the newest of members at the gym, and like lemmings, they simply follow what everyone else is doing and then it becomes routine for them.
For the purposes of this article, I’d like to dive into the reasoning behind Monday being bench day and possibly answer some of the questions surrounding the phenomena.
Monkey See Monkey Do
Everyone has to start out somewhere in the gym and often times the reasoning behind what they eventually end up doing stems from mimicking what they observe others doing. There’s nothing wrong with this at all and in the grand scheme of things is probably the best avenue for a beginner. That being said, by joining the droves of other people also training chest on Monday, it only adds to the frustration of having long waiting periods for certain chest machines, benches and dumbbells. I understand that when something is in your face and it’s all you see, it’s hard to ignore. But what if, just once, someone new to the gym took stock of what was happening on a Monday and saw someone training legs? Would that then alter the future and change the historical event we know as International Chest Day? Would this create such a ripple in time that the gym environment as we know it now would forever be altered? One can only hope so.
Start things off Right
Like mentioned earlier in the introduction of this article, starting off your workout week on the right foot sets you up for reoccurring success in the days to come. A lot of people I personally know like to take their weekends off from the gym for family and other obligations only to come back in on Monday fully refreshed, healed and ready to attack the weights once again. Energy levels should be pretty high, caloric reserve from your cheat day should be in full effect and hitting chest hard and heavy becomes priority number one. If you can successfully achieve your goals on a day that is most important to you, essentially what you have done is psychologically set yourself up for elevated motivation levels and a great outlook on upcoming workouts where you want to experience the same effect as you did on chest day. All in all, this approach makes a whole lot of sense and could be the reason behind the majority of chest trainers on Mondays.
It’s all Arnold’s Fault
You and I both know that when it comes to chest development, Arnold was king! Any debate over who had the best overall chest development will quickly end when his name is thrown into the mix. Arnold was the original gym Alpha and he had the chest to prove it. It seems like there is a never ending number of people out there who got into training because of this icon and the success he experienced was closely associated with the chest size he was able to attain. Well, if it worked for Arnold, why wouldn’t it work for me, right? Out of all the examples you will read in this article, my personal opinion is that Arnold is to blame for creating such bench press havoc each and every Monday (and I mean no disrespect to this legend whatsoever, I’m actually grateful for it).
It’s all you Had
Most of us out there training hard each and every day at our gym didn’t actually start there. We started in our basements or out in our garage with the bare necessities for muscle growth. We had a barbell, some free weights, spin lock dumbbells and a bench. If you were lucky enough, your bench press would incline and decline along with the standard flat position and you worked feverously on those three movements. If you were anything like me and my friends, we also trained chest every day. Not only did we train chest, we had bench press competitions every day. Do you know why we did this? It’s because that’s all we had, so we figured we may as well get really good at doing what we could. We were completely devoid of any other training equipment and to be honest, didn’t even really know it existed. What we did know was that working at benching and benching as much as we could, transferred into other areas of our physiques and soon after our triceps and shoulders started to grow as well. When you aren’t as versed in training as you should be or eventually will become, when you see something that works, you stick with it. Actually, now thinking about it, as simplistic as that view is, more people should stick with that idea and stop searching for other alternatives. Maybe I’ll just go back to benching every day and totally throw everyone else off at the gym.
It might just be Engrained in our Evolution as Humans
How many of you out there still perform push-ups? I bet if you don’t do them now you did your fair share back in the day. I remember doing push-ups before I even knew what they were supposed to do for me. There was something natural in trying to move your body up and down in the push-up fashion that just seemed right for some reason. When I speak with young people who have never even seen the inside of a gym yet but want to start, one of the first things they tell me is they do push-ups and sit ups, usually at night before they go to bed. When I ask why, they usually tell they’re not sure but it feels good and they like to see how many they can work up to in a row without stopping. How interesting is that? They have no idea why they’re doing them, what they’re actually gaining from doing them, yet they continue to do so with no comprehension of the act itself at all. This all plays into my theory that benching is a part of our natural evolution and it’s one of the primary reasons (along with Arnold) that everyone feels an overwhelming urge to push weights off their chest each and every Monday.
When you sit back and really think about why so many people make their way to a bench at the beginning of each week, the answer becomes crystal clear; it’s a rule! That’s right, rule number one in the gym is that Monday is chest day, there’s no other way around it. I’m no different than those lemmings jumping off the cliff because their buddy in front of them did the same thing and I am certainly in no position to look down upon anyone else who trains chest on the internationally appointed day. And you know what, I’m fine with it and you should be too. The only thing I want people out there to know is that when and if you see me and my friends walk into the gym on Monday, you better prepare for a foot race to the bench, because that’s where we’re headed. Wait a second; I’d probably tear a hammy if I tried to do that. Never mind, there’s enough weights around for all of us, just make sure if you are on a bench that day, please use it then move on.
Otherwise, when my hammy does snap, I’ll make sure I’m pointed in your direction so it can whip you in the face and knock you off the bench so I can start my workout.
Author: Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, ENDEVR Brand Ambassador, SKECHERS Brand Ambassador, Sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.
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