In our football lifting program, we hit every major muscle group with multiple- and single-joint lifts. A lot of people say, “I’m not doing tricep pushdowns [single-joint lift] today because I’m doing bench press [multiple-joint lift].” But if you have a problem with your bench press, and your max isn’t where you want it, you won’t know what muscle group is the limiting factor. Is it a weak front delt, pec major, pec minor, triceps? You can quickly identify that limiting factor by training in a single-joint fashion. So, we start every workout with a total body movement—an Olympic lift of some sort. Then on upper body days, we follow that with a multiple-joint lift—the bench press for example—and follow that with a single-joint lift for the pec, like a fly. If you don’t do both, you’re setting yourself up for injury.
Ron McKeefery is the head strength and conditioning coach for the University of South Florida.