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Correcting Shoulder Rounding: Can I Still Press?


Hi all,

Novice lifter here with about a year of actual experience routinely in the weight room. I am working one of your standard, in the chair at the office all day jobs and have bad posture. I used to lift in high school but I skipped deadlifting and other back work while trying to get my bench press as high as possible (teenagers haha). In any case, I am very imbalanced and began to notice obvious forward shoulder rounding. I am starting to notice some rotator cuff pinching while benching, slouching naturally posture when I’m not thinking about it, very limited range of motion when doing arm circles, etc.

I am interested in the Juggernaut program and am about to complete wave 1. I have limited my pressing to just the main bench and shoulder press sets. The vast majority of my assistance work is geared towards building up my back and external rotation.

My question is this: can I correct my posture while continuing to press twice a week while emphasizing back/external rotation training, or do I need to abandon pressing altogether until I balance myself out?

As a follow-up, I feel that I need a lot of help with my lower traps, rhomboids, and external rotators. Does anyone have favorite posture correction exercises that they find exceptionally helpful?

Please advise, and thanks for your time.


Yes, as your strength improves so will your posture just ensure you are pressing with proper form and posture. If you have not completed a beginner 5x5 program I would recommend completing one first before attempting a program like Juggernaut. You will make progress much quicker on a program like Starting Strength then transition to Juggernaut once you can no longer add weight consistently every workout.


Just as a little test, try some seated dumbbell presses. Check out the position of your wrists, elbows and shoulders. Does it look the same on both sides? As you press, do the dumbbells move in the same path? If your shoulders are slumped, they may not be slumped to the same degree. If you’re really crooked, you may be better off using dumbbells for awhile, as you improve your shoulders. If you’re pretty square, you should be OK to press, as you work on your back and shoulders.

When you rack your bench presses, check out the position of the barbell. Is it centered on the hooks, or way off to one side? Does the bar helicopter or kayak on you?

As far as getting your shoulders in position, I love the “Deisel Crew Feel Better Right Now Shoulder Exercise Combo” as a warm up. Those moves were new to me, so they felt really good.

Band-Pull aparts and band dislocates are effective and easy.

Bottoms up kettlebell presses are good. You really have to “pack your shoulder” to stay tight and control the kettlebell.

Also, blast straps, or TRX handles are good. You can do combo moves, sorta crossing rows and external rotations and face pulls, all at once.

Try some stuff out, see what you like. Fighting had posture is going to be part of your life now. Find a couple moves you like, and use them as a warm up before upper body days. Pick 2 or 3 easy ones, like push-up plus and band pull aparts, and do 2-3 Sets, two or three times a day, outside the gym. You’ll be countering the effects of your job, almost like rehab. But moving your upper body around daily will also help you recover faster from upper body workouts. Doing extra work outs for your lagging body parts will build you up, and improve your lifts. Its win/win/win.


Hey cjsofsky,

It sounds like you might have decreased range of motion of your thoracic spine. That leads to the shoulder be carried more forward, and a great deal of imbalances in the upper torso and arms. I’d recommend you check out a few exercises to increase your thoracic spine flexibility. I have a great exercise called ‘Can Openers’ that I like to teach my patients. Check out my website. Go to ‘Fitness Education’ then on the drag down menu is ‘Can Openers’ which would be a great way for you to work on this issue.

Let me know how it goes.


Thanks for the responses guys. I will try some of this material out and report back!