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Elbow Issues When Pressing

I’ve been noticing that my overhead press cases me issues with my elbows. Most notable would be my left elbow. I’m not sure if its my set up or if I’ve overworked the joint with all the pressing I’ve done. So I have two questions on this. One is there any tips or advice on the set up so I can see if my set up / form is the issue? Second is whats the best course of action to try to fix this issue? Back off the pressing motions or check the form and keep at it to see what helps make the pain/ache go away?

Some of my elbow pain got fixed by stretching lats, actually. Make sure your mobility is 100% in shoulders and especially lats.
Can you set up a low bar squat comfortably?

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I can low bar squat fine. I can bench press fine. I do notice some slight pain or agitation when benching and doing heavy or fast set of 5x5. It’s usually on the fourth or fifth set though. With the press it’s usually by the second work set that I notice it. Which is why I was thinking it was maybe a set up problem and form issue

Are you keeping your elbows tucked? A video might help one of the guys see what’s going on.
Would be interesting to see what happened if you did a set or two of close grip pulldowns before presses or pair pulldowns with presses as a superset.

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Hopefully this helps. I have a small space so videos are kind of hard.




The last two videos are private, but your first video says a lot.

For one, that’s a RIDICULOUSLY close grip. I do press close grip-ish, but you’re nearly touching the smooth.


This is your starting position. That’s essentially a tricep extension - and it’s one where 100% of the torque is going to be on the elbows.

Your wrists are also incredibly bent:

which further increases the lever and puts more torque on the elbows.

I would suggest:

Widen your grip - no need to go wide with it, but put pinkies a bit closer to the power rings
Tuck your thumbs behind the bar - this forces your wrists to be straight and will put your elbows in a lower position.

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That would be too narrow a grip for me, too.

When you say tuck your thumbs behind the bar do you mean a suicide grip?

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Yes, suicide = thumbless

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What @bighdx said. This may just be my opinion, but I only call it suicide grip when you’re benching, and the bar has nowhere to go but down onto your body. I suppose the possibility exists of dropping a barbell on top of your head, but I’ve never heard of it happening in an OHP, especially since heavy weights tend to make you lean back and that’d just result in it glancing off your body.

I’m not saying either of my suggestions will fix your body, I’m just saying your video showed some stuff that I’d assume would cause elbow issues even if you hadn’t prefaced by saying you had them. A slightly wider grip would put your forearms more directly in a straight line under the bar, and the thumbless grip might help how high your elbow positioning is. If you don’t go with my initial suggestion, just do something to make sure your elbows are starting lower than that, and that your wrists are straighter.

Good luck!

I have never been very good with the press. When I was starting I was told my grip was too wide and that my pinky should be on the smooth part of the bar. I think you guys are probably right about the grip twisting my elbow out of wack. I’m going to try a wider grip then if that doesn’t work try out that thumbless grip.

Just to update everyone. I did press today and tired a few things. The first thing I tried today was the thumbless grip. It wasn’t bad but I didn’t find it helped much. I watched the video that was posted and I tired the setup that they explained, put the hands on the bar about shoulder width apart. Turn thumbs down and wrap fingers around the bar and squeeze. The only only issue I found was after coming down to the starting position I found my set up was messed up by trying to rest my arms on my lats as I flexed them. But it seemed so much better for a good start

Make sure you are expanding your chest out and up. That will flare your lats and make a better shelf.
Also, it may take a while for the elbow pain to calm down.