T Nation

Bench Help/Shoulder Problem

Alright people
I have a problem with my bench press at the moment, which gives me sharp pains in the front of my right shoulder when I press with a weight close to my 1rpm. My 1rpm is currently only 85kg which is pathetic I know ha.

I still feel a twinge in the same place when benching with a lighter weight for higher reps but it is not as painful so I can work through it.

It’s really frustrating as this is holding my progress back and I keep going around in circles as in, I injure shoulder have time off to heal then get back to benching and get injured again.

I’ve been adding in external rotations with a db, plus added in exercises that work the lower traps like hang snatches but my shoulder has been buggered again recently so I’m taking a week off benching again.

Helpful advice will be really appreciated.

[quote]mofoshamrock wrote:
Alright people
I have a problem with my bench press at the moment, which gives me sharp pains in the front of my right shoulder when I press with a weight close to my 1rpm. My 1rpm is currently only 85kg which is pathetic I know ha.

I still feel a twinge in the same place when benching with a lighter weight for higher reps but it is not as painful so I can work through it.

It’s really frustrating as this is holding my progress back and I keep going around in circles as in, I injure shoulder have time off to heal then get back to benching and get injured again.

I’ve been adding in external rotations with a db, plus added in exercises that work the lower traps like hang snatches but my shoulder has been buggered again recently so I’m taking a week off benching again.

Helpful advice will be really appreciated.[/quote]

It could be a number of things. Check out Eric Cressey’s Shoulder Saver articles. When I found T-Nation I had some major shoulder problems. 1 year later I don’t have any problems and those articles are what started it for me. I have them linked as some of my “favorites.”

Cheers mate
Think I read it in the past but I’ll defo have another look and see if it can help sort my dodgy shoulder out

[quote]mofoshamrock wrote:
It’s really frustrating as this is holding my progress back and I keep going around in circles as in, I injure shoulder have time off to heal then get back to benching and get injured again.
[/quote]

Maybe it’s something that isn’t going to heal on it’s own. It could be that the pain and inflammation go away with rest, but the underlying injury is still there…Have you had it looked at yet?

No, it sounds soft but I’ve never had it looked at by a doctor. I always think that a doctor will just say stop benching and problem solved. I assumed it was the bench press but I don’t suffer at all if I substitute the bb for db bench press.

I suppose I could just train db instead and train around the problem, but the weight I can handle on db press doesn’t seem heavy enough to promote muscle growth compared to the bb press.

Any issues with Dips or if you do a front dumbell raise across the body?

My personal recommendation would be to train with other exercises that don’t kill your shoulder for 4 or 5 weeks. During that time, make sure you work lots of pulls and lots of externally rotating exercises.

If after that time, it still hurts, you should definitely see a doctor. I know benching is probably important to you, as it is to most of us, but I’d say it’s usually more important that you’ll have normal function of your shoulder in 10 years.

[quote]mofoshamrock wrote:

It’s really frustrating as this is holding my progress back and I keep going around in circles as in, I injure shoulder have time off to heal then get back to benching and get injured again.

I’ve been adding in external rotations with a db, plus added in exercises that work the lower traps like hang snatches but my shoulder has been buggered again recently so I’m taking a week off benching again.

Helpful advice will be really appreciated.[/quote]

It seems from reading the above that you are jumping straight back into benching once you give it time to heal.

This is poor, read Cressey’s article, he gives you progression suggestions that will hopefully help you return to Bench pressing without any pain (And dont worry about not Barbell Bench Pressing for a while, I tested my 1RM after three months of not BPressing, it was 105kg this represents only a 5kg decrease.

Now that I am much more stronger overall these next few months I hope to get my Bench Press to 120kg (1.5x BW)

[quote]mofoshamrock wrote:
I suppose I could just train db instead and train around the problem, but the weight I can handle on db press doesn’t seem heavy enough to promote muscle growth compared to the bb press.[/quote]

This statement really grabbed me. You may want to take a step back and really examine why you aren’t doing the db exercise. If you can’t do a lot of weight, that’s a good sign you’re a little weak in that area. The fact that you can do more with a bar suggests you need work on the coordination and balance involved with the dumbbells.

When I change a routine and start doing a new exercise, for the first few sessions the amount of weight I do is usually laughable, I feel like I’m using the plastic barbie weights. But after a few good workouts, once I’ve built up a little endurance and perfected the form, I show rapid gains in strength.

Avoiding an exercise because you can’t lift very much weight with it is neglecting a weak spot in your training. You should be focusing on these areas rather than avoiding them. I’d suggest you take a step back and re-think your philosophy about this particular exercise. (I’m not trying to be critical here, just trying to get you to look at it from a different perspective).

Regards to the shoulder - I had a nasty shoulder injury which really screwed me up for a while. Part of the reason I started lifting again a few years ago was to help the shoulder heal up. Here are a few things that I did that helped me.

I didn’t do any exercise that caused a sharp pain in the shoulder. Soreness was okay, but any time I got a sharp pain during the exercise, I would stop doing the exercise.

I tried to work as many different shoulder movements as possible over time, including presses, raises, and rotation exercises aimed at the rotator cuff. Usually I would start off at extremely low weights, just working through the range of motion. Once I got so I could do a few sets of an exercise without pain, I would slowly start increasing the weight. There were a few movements that I had never worked out before and I think strengthening them helped to build a great deal of overall shoulder stability which helped me heal faster and will help prevent further injury.

Higher rep sets are the way to go IMO when getting over an injury. Using too heavy a weight too soon can lead to re-injury.

Change up the exercises you do every few weeks. If one exercise bothers you, look for a similar one that doesn’t. Try an incline bench press and a decline rather than a flat bench, for example. Rotate different exercises/angles.

Form is extremely important. I found that if I went too heavy and started to cheat or got sloppy with form I was more likely to tweak the injury.

Now from what you’ve said, it sounds like benching is a bit of a problem. Try using different benches (incline and decline) and see if they hurt any less. If the dumbbells don’t hurt, do the dumbbells. Db BP is such a great exercise it’s a shame you don’t like them. Don’t worry if you can’t do a lot of weight with them, if you stay at it, you’ll improve. Try doing more fly,cable crossovers, and pullovers to add variety to your chest workout.

Stay away from the pain-causing bench press for a good long while (6 weeks or so). When you start back in with the bench, use lower weights and do higher rep sets. Also, when bench pressing, try keeping your upper arms parallel to the floor when you lower the weight. Don’t let the bar go all the way down to your chest. Limiting the range of motion slightly in this manner oftentimes results in less stress on the shoulder.

If you’ve got a trainer at your gym, ask him or her to watch you bench and see if they have any tips on your form.

Injuries suck and really screw up your workouts at first, but if you are diligent you can get yourself back to full health eventually. Avoiding a beloved exercise that causes pain can be tough, but just think of the substitutions as a challenge! Get yourself psyched up about db presses.

Stick with it! Best of luck.

[quote]graphicsMan wrote:
My personal recommendation would be to train with other exercises that don’t kill your shoulder for 4 or 5 weeks. During that time, make sure you work lots of pulls and lots of externally rotating exercises.

If after that time, it still hurts, you should definitely see a doctor. I know benching is probably important to you, as it is to most of us, but I’d say it’s usually more important that you’ll have normal function of your shoulder in 10 years.[/quote]

As soon as it feels better to train I will get back to chest and shoulders but will definately take time away from the bench press.

You’re right, I definately don’t want any long term problems, after all my right arm is my favourite arm.

[quote]Saki X wrote:
mofoshamrock wrote:

It’s really frustrating as this is holding my progress back and I keep going around in circles as in, I injure shoulder have time off to heal then get back to benching and get injured again.

I’ve been adding in external rotations with a db, plus added in exercises that work the lower traps like hang snatches but my shoulder has been buggered again recently so I’m taking a week off benching again.

Helpful advice will be really appreciated.

It seems from reading the above that you are jumping straight back into benching once you give it time to heal.

This is poor, read Cressey’s article, he gives you progression suggestions that will hopefully help you return to Bench pressing without any pain (And dont worry about not Barbell Bench Pressing for a while, I tested my 1RM after three months of not BPressing, it was 105kg this represents only a 5kg decrease.

Now that I am much more stronger overall these next few months I hope to get my Bench Press to 120kg (1.5x BW)

[/quote]

You’re right with me jumping back in too soon with the benching that is for sure. I just feel annoyed when I take too long away from it and seem to lose strength rapidly.

I think I will give the db’s a good go when the shoulder feels better this time around.

[quote]GoOrange wrote:
mofoshamrock wrote:
I suppose I could just train db instead and train around the problem, but the weight I can handle on db press doesn’t seem heavy enough to promote muscle growth compared to the bb press.

This statement really grabbed me. You may want to take a step back and really examine why you aren’t doing the db exercise. If you can’t do a lot of weight, that’s a good sign you’re a little weak in that area. The fact that you can do more with a bar suggests you need work on the coordination and balance involved with the dumbbells.

When I change a routine and start doing a new exercise, for the first few sessions the amount of weight I do is usually laughable, I feel like I’m using the plastic barbie weights. But after a few good workouts, once I’ve built up a little endurance and perfected the form, I show rapid gains in strength.

Avoiding an exercise because you can’t lift very much weight with it is neglecting a weak spot in your training. You should be focusing on these areas rather than avoiding them. I’d suggest you take a step back and re-think your philosophy about this particular exercise. (I’m not trying to be critical here, just trying to get you to look at it from a different perspective).

Regards to the shoulder - I had a nasty shoulder injury which really screwed me up for a while. Part of the reason I started lifting again a few years ago was to help the shoulder heal up. Here are a few things that I did that helped me.

I didn’t do any exercise that caused a sharp pain in the shoulder. Soreness was okay, but any time I got a sharp pain during the exercise, I would stop doing the exercise.

I tried to work as many different shoulder movements as possible over time, including presses, raises, and rotation exercises aimed at the rotator cuff. Usually I would start off at extremely low weights, just working through the range of motion. Once I got so I could do a few sets of an exercise without pain, I would slowly start increasing the weight. There were a few movements that I had never worked out before and I think strengthening them helped to build a great deal of overall shoulder stability which helped me heal faster and will help prevent further injury.

Higher rep sets are the way to go IMO when getting over an injury. Using too heavy a weight too soon can lead to re-injury.

Change up the exercises you do every few weeks. If one exercise bothers you, look for a similar one that doesn’t. Try an incline bench press and a decline rather than a flat bench, for example. Rotate different exercises/angles.

Form is extremely important. I found that if I went too heavy and started to cheat or got sloppy with form I was more likely to tweak the injury.

Now from what you’ve said, it sounds like benching is a bit of a problem. Try using different benches (incline and decline) and see if they hurt any less. If the dumbbells don’t hurt, do the dumbbells. Db BP is such a great exercise it’s a shame you don’t like them. Don’t worry if you can’t do a lot of weight with them, if you stay at it, you’ll improve. Try doing more fly,cable crossovers, and pullovers to add variety to your chest workout.

Stay away from the pain-causing bench press for a good long while (6 weeks or so). When you start back in with the bench, use lower weights and do higher rep sets. Also, when bench pressing, try keeping your upper arms parallel to the floor when you lower the weight. Don’t let the bar go all the way down to your chest. Limiting the range of motion slightly in this manner oftentimes results in less stress on the shoulder.

If you’ve got a trainer at your gym, ask him or her to watch you bench and see if they have any tips on your form.

Injuries suck and really screw up your workouts at first, but if you are diligent you can get yourself back to full health eventually. Avoiding a beloved exercise that causes pain can be tough, but just think of the substitutions as a challenge! Get yourself psyched up about db presses.

Stick with it! Best of luck.[/quote]

I think you have hit the nail on the head with some of you’re points. With regards to keeping the upper arm parallel to the floor, I’ve heard this mentioned in the past and tried it out a few times. What shocked me was how far away from my chest that the barbell was when my upper arm was parallel to the floor. It must have been about ten inches away. I must have long arms or some weird body shape.

Maybe this is part of the problem for my shoulder as I have started trying to alter my bench press to more of a neck press. It is more of a neck press (gironda style) with my arms flared out. This probably is not the best style for my body shape, so I will try and alter this to a power lifting style when I return to it (after a good rest)

[quote]mofoshamrock wrote:
Maybe this is part of the problem for my shoulder as I have started trying to alter my bench press to more of a neck press. It is more of a neck press (gironda style) with my arms flared out. This probably is not the best style for my body shape, so I will try and alter this to a power lifting style when I return to it (after a good rest)

[/quote]

Switching to a slightly narrower grip with elbows tucked has greatly improved my shoulder. I used to get a lot of pain from years of heavy lifting and throwing. Using a PL style, coupled with lots of face pulls, rows, etc to balance off the pressing has really helped.

I am definately going to alter my bench style after the shoulder is better. I read those cressey shoulder savers articles and it mentioned about the bench technique. Hopefully I will be able to get past my current 1rpm using this style also.
Thanks for the advice

Definitely start tucking your elbows. I also found that doing cable scarecrows has helped my previously clunky shoulder no end.

I had the exact same problem when I started lifting. Same arm, same area, same exact problem. My advice? Stretching is important. I would be sure to stretch that area as well as possible when I would go into the gym. Put your arm on the side of a cage or something at shoulder height, and twist your body away from it, really stretching that shoulder area.

On top of that, just be sure to use lighter weights and really focus on your form. The pain goes away with time (at least it did for me).

How’s your flyes? For me, those would really hurt my shoulder as well. I would throw in light weight sets after bench/dips or whatever I was doing that way. Don’t expect the pain to go away fast though, mine lasted a good 3 months.

Best of luck!