Are you getting shoulder pain during bench press workouts? It’s really common and there are some simple things you can do today to reduce the pain and allow you to keep working out.
Here’s the top 4 things you can do to reduce shoulder pain during bench press workouts
1. Identify the aggravating factor
Full vs half range of movement – keep the same weight, but only lower the bar half way to your chest. If it hurts when you go all the way down but not half way down. Do the pain-free half for now to keep you working out.
Wide vs narrow grip – does using a narrow grip make the pain better? How about a wide grip? If one of these changes reduces the pain, use that modification for the time being.
Heavy vs lots of reps – is the pain specific to your heaviest sets? If so consider modifying your program to go for more reps and sets with less weight. If you are ok at heavy weight but troubled by more than 10 reps, go for heavier sets with less reps.
Combining multiple exercises – is your bench press always painful or only on days when you also do the military press? How about only the day after you did flies? Look for patterns that provoke the pain and adjust your training accordingly.
Turn your grip – it’s usually the barbell bench press people have trouble with. First off try switching to dumbbells and turn the dumbbell 90 degrees. If that goes well you can try the trap bar with the same type of grip.
2. Try a resistance band ring
Find a resistance band and tie it in a ring that is about the length of your forearm.
Put your hands through the ring and stretch it apart using your wrists.
Now try your bench press while keeping tension on the band.
This often reduces shoulder pain with the bench press allowing you to continue training.
3. Check your mobility
Lacking sufficient mobility can sometimes cause shoulder pain during bench press workouts. Checking mobility takes a more in-depth assessment but here’s a couple of things to check.
Lay flat on your back and bend your knees until the soles of your feet are flat on the floor. Gently press your low back into the floor. Keeping the lower back in contact take both arms overhead. If you can’t rest your arms on the floor up by your ears you’re lacking some mobility in your shoulder.
Laying flat on your back with your arms out to your sides (like a ‘T’ shape) bend your elbows then rotate your shoulders so your hands go toward the floor. If you can’t touch the floor with your hands then you’re lacking some mobility in your shoulder.
If it is pain preventing you from doing these things you really need to get your shoulder evaluated by a qualified professional. If it is just tight you can just get to stretching. If you want some more specific information on what to do just reach out to me.
4. Balance your movement quadrants
Think of a square that has been divided into 4 smaller squares leaving 4 quadrants.
Each quadrant represents one movement
- 2 push movements: vertical and horizontal
- 2 pull movements: vertical and horizontal
The amount of volume each week in each quadrant should be roughly equal in your training
- An example of a vertical push movement would be a military press
- An example of a horizontal push movement would be a bench press
- An example of a vertical pull movement would be a pull up
- An example of a horizontal pull movement would be a bent over row
Now, imbalance in volume dedicated to each quadrant often leads to loss of mobility and an imbalance of muscle strength. This is usually a problem when people dedicate too much time to the horizontal push movement (you guessed it, the bench press). Over time the shoulders round and have less mobility. This can be a factor in developing shoulder pain so be sure to balance your quadrants!
So there we have it. Give it a try and see how it goes. If you’re having trouble with shoulder pain during bench press, let us know a bit more about it in the comments section below.