T Nation

Decline bench press..yay or nay??


Due to my ever aching rotator cuffs, I havent been able to barbell bench effectively for, i'd guess, close to 10yrs (im 28.) Ive recently started trying flat bench presses again with a close grip and my elbows close to the body. I still feel pain, but not as much. The last couple of workouts ive tried decline benches and the pain is almost totally eliminated and I can actually bench more than my body weight again (180lbs.) for reps. What do you guys think of decline bench presses? Any input would be greatly appreciated...

ps..please dont recommend dumbell presses. Flat dumbell presses is the most painful excercise to my shoulders of all...


have you tried not doing any pressing movements and just rehabbing your rotators until they are better?

ive read decline takes alot of the rotator stress away, westside mentioned using it if you have sore rotator/shoulders.


Some problems can't be trained around. Fix your shoulders.


thats odd it bothers my shoulders


Decline close grip bench press is a staple tricep movement that is highly recommended. I would say you should figure out what is wrong with your shoulders.

I would read this article,


and this one,



first off go get ART done on your shoulders..second decline is great movement for every one it really is a great movement that is done raw that carry's over well ot the shirted bench press...for the average trainer decline is a great movement to help the transfer spot right off the chest where the tri begin to take over..bm


I use decline DB presses as the first chest exercise back after a rotator cuff rehab protocol that does not include any chest exercises. The DBs allow one to press in a non-fixed line of motion (avoiding internal rotation, which decreases subacromial space), and the decline limits ROM and forces the individual to stay tight, both of which further protect the shoulder.

If your shoulder still hurts, you shouldn't be ignoring it. Fix the problem and you'll be better off in the long run than if you bench half-ass for the rest of your training career.


specifically whats wrong with your shoulder(s)?

i use dec close grip bench as a ME movement since i can press it in a straighter line than flat close grip. it also lets me 'feel' my lats drive the bar off my chest which helps my start on flat.


Ive known about ART for years, but never bothered visiting a practitioner. I probably should. Ive experienced pain in both shoulders for so long, its almost normal to me. Its a very sharp pain in one or both shoulders. It comes and goes. I went through chiropractic therapy for my back and shoulders years ago, but it really didnt do jack. I didnt bother even attmepting a barbell press for years (only pressing movement was the dumbell bench press,) until just recently. I'll stick to decline for a while and see what happens...


Firstly i would try the rehab suggestions and lay off the benching until that is sorted. You have nothing to lose! Eric Cressey 'rotator cuff conundrum' is an excellent T-mag article. I used it and my problems went away. I now use it as prehab.

Secondly how do you bench? Try moving your bench grip in more. This will alleviate some of the stress on the shoulders and put more emphasis on the triceps. Also if you don't already try tucking your elbows into your sides for the same reasons. I changed this in my benching and not only did I never have shoulder problems but I am stronger this way. Initial you will lose some strength but don't worry it will soon come back and you'll probably be stronger.


Something not mentioned.

Try pressing in a horizontal plane (on one of the iso foo foo Hammer Strength machines.) It was a good alternative for me when I had AC joint problems.