T Nation

Chest Feels Like It's Going to Rip


This post is for those of you who press some pretty good weight on the bench press. I've finally worked up to some respectable bench press numbers. Over the last couple of months I've been lifting and eating like a mad man and my strength has shot up pretty dramatically across all of my major lifts.

I am now working up to 315 lbs on the bench press and repping it out 4 to 6 times. Let me tell you though, I have to stretch the heck out of my chest constantly while I'm working up to this weight because as I approach my max I feel like my upper right pec is going to rip if I don't.

Have any of you experienced this? Is my muscle/joints still trying to adjust to this new weight? I'm paranoid as all get out because I want to avoid any pec tears at all costs. I've read TC going through one and it doesn't sound pleasant.

I guess I just keep stretching the heck out of my chest. And maybe I just need to drop the weight for a few weeks and include more reps and then go back up to this weight after awhile. By the way, I know there is a lot of dogma written in T-Nation articles such as "don't stretch the muscle before working that muscle because you'll lose strength". I don't seem to notice any decrease in strength even when I stretch the pecs between sets.

Any thoughts?


I experience this during weighted dips, since I stopped doing BB bench many moons ago.
I personally think Flat BB bench is more trouble than its worth, with the risk of pec tears and all...and use just weighted dips, dumbbells and HS incline and wide chest m/cs at this point.
You should deinitely take more time to warm up as you go heavier if you want to stick with BB flat bench.


How long have you been benching consistently?
I got the same feeling starting about a month ago, I started in June with a fairly light weight and worked up to weight closer to my max. I pushed through it for 3 weeks but it was causing me to reduce my workload and volume.

It seems to really stretch when I'm on incline so I cut those out for 2 weeks, and switched my second bench day to dumbells with a technique similar to the perfect push up/ and doing push ups. It's starting to feel alot better, after the last week, I went for some heavy sets but extremely low volume and it didn't really hurt it too much. I also tried machines on that day.

My recommendation would be to try going heavy in another similar but not the exact same exercise, like floor press or something. It's what they do in one of the power lifting conjugate methods, rotate exercises every 3 weeks so they can max without burning out.


I've been doing this latest compound bench pressing exercise routine for the last couple of months. I like your idea of switching to a similar exercise and go heavy. Maybe I'll move to dumbbells for a couple of weeks.


YES. I went thru a pec tear about 12 years ago. In my mind anyway I believe creatine was the culprit. Well actually my fault as I was not consuming enough H20. Research has shown creatine can contribute to muscle tears, although it is quite a controversial and hot topic with creatine devotee's.

Why not incorporate a really light blow off day where you go well below even medium work weight and simply feel the movement and follow this up with some good old close grip BP's?

Believe me.........you don't want to tear it! And without surgery you'll have that big old dent in your chest when you flex it. Not to mention you'll be black & blue from your pec, into your bicep and down on to your rib cage.
When it tears it's like someone is ripping a towel.

You've been warned. Back up a little.


I've heard that anecdotally, but haven't seen any research supporting it.


Links to said research?


The fact that you feel it specifically in your upper right pec would lead me to believe you may have some tightness there to deal with, not just a general getting used to the weight feeling. Is your right shoulder pulled forward a bit more than the left? Anterior delt dominant slightly on that side? I would keep stretching your chest out as you have been. An added bonus is you not seeing the strength decreases sometimes seen stretching mid workout, so keep doing it.

I would put some time in stretching your chest with added emphasis on that area throughout the week. Also, check your left/right side balance. If it is really bad, you may need to hit your upper back more on your right side in addition to stretching out your right pec. Look through the day while you are sitting, working, etc for you possibly carrying your right shoulder forward caused by pec tightness/upper back weakness on that side.

If it is just during your lifting and no imbalance seen, I would also have someone check your form during the lift to see if you are favoring a side or bringing the bar down unevenly. Also, be careful and see the problem through until it no longer feels off, but don't let it mentally fuck with you and limit your poundages and progression in the future. Good luck man.


I don't notice my right shoulder being pulled forward. I am right handed so it's possible that I have a slight anterior delt domination on the right side.

Although I have been stretching it during the week definitely not consistently enough so that's definitely something I got to get better at.

I'll have to get someone to visually check the form but I don't believe I'm lifting unevenly. I think you are right that it's just a little tighter and it becomes more pronounced the heavier the weight. Something I'll have to keep on top of for sure.

So far so good about the mental aspect. I'm not afraid to lift the heavy weight but I'm very paranoid about ripping a pec so I'll be sure to keep stretching the heck out of it. There was also another good suggestion to mix it up and do an equally demanding chest exercise like dumbbell presses for a few weeks. BTW, this was a great post. Thanks.