T Nation

Full ROM


when i do my flat bench press i have a problem getting the bar down to my chest. most people say that you only need to break the 90 to get the full range on the bench press. i can get the bar down there but i get a lot of pain in my shoulders. my question to you is im i cutting my self short by just breaking the 90 or do i need to drop the weight and get it down to my chest???


My personal take is that you need PT for the shoulders. You should be able to get that range of motion without the pain. Go see a PT.


i don't have much time to go see a PT but it sounds like a good idea and i will look into it thank you

Still the main question to be answered is, is it importanted to bring it all the way down to the chest or is breaking the 90 efficiant ????


Well i can say that perosnally ive trained both ways. For my first couple years of lifting i only went to 90 degrees, and when i did switch over to full ROM bench presses, i found out what I had been missing. My BP #'s increased rapidly and i found i was hitting people in football with my hands much more forcefully.

If youre an athlete then it will definitely benefit you, because of the stretch shortening cycle.

BOTTOM LINE: Yes strive for full ROM, its the best thing you can do, of course maybe get the shoulders checked out, but depending on what kinda pain youre talking about it may not even be a problem, because i know that when i made the transition all of my muscles were very tight @ the bottom portion for the first couple of weeks.


thank you that is what im looking for. i will work on the full ROM.

p.s. still looking for others inputs




That's another opinion on the bench.

You could also try doing floor presses and hold/relax for a couple of seconds in the bottom position to reduce your stretch reflex. I find the floor press quite comfortable with a neutral grip.


floor press??? not to sure what exercise yuour talking about but if it self explanitory im sure i can figure it out. thanks again for the input


If you're using a traditional bodybuilding bench press, you could be putting more strain on your shoulders than you need to.

I prefer a powerlifting bench where you keep your elbows in, not out.

I would guess that my arms are at approx. a 45 deg angle to my body, as opposed to 90 degrees.

I had shoulder problems everytime I started benching with 6 reps or less using bodybuilding form. Ever since I changed my form I haven't had any shoulder problems.


I too had shoudler problems before swithing to PL oriented style. Nothing major, but lots of clicking and strange tightness. Apart from SWR's tips, I also use a bit narrower grip, which lowers the weight I can handle, but feels better.


Unless you're a competitive powerlifter, I wouldn't use the barbell bench press at all. You're better off using dumbbells and weighted pushups.

I second seeing a PT or someone similar. If you can't get to the chest in a barbell bench, there's something SERIOUSLY wrong with your shoulder joint.



You're probably gripping the bar too wide and flaring out your elbows. Does that sound like how you bench? Do you bring the bar down closer to your sternum or your collar bones?

I suggest you stay inside 1.5 times the width of your shoulders with your grip and allow your elbows to tuck naturally, pressing from lower on your chest as dictated by the grip width and "degree of elbow tuck".


Honestly IMO no matter the grip stance etc. you should do all maovmenmts to the full ROM that allows pain free execution. If it hurts in a NOT good way dont do it. Unless you are working on a specific sticking point or strength quality like pulling lockouts etc for he upper half of a DL for example.

Now dont do this just because its hard. That is why many people dont squat Its hard damn it. It hurts in general. You must reciognize the difference between hurt and strain, or Pain and Strain.

Hope that helps,


I agree with the people who have advocated dumbbell bench press, and also powerlifting bench press. My shoulders are still a might bit screwed up YEARS later from wide grip bench press (well, negatives with dumbass spotters, but that's another story).


I alternate workouts between dumbell presses and medium grip powerlifting type bench. When the bar hits my chest it's down at or below the nips and I have not shoulder or elbow pain. If I do the typical wide grip, flared elbow thing I get some shoulder pain as well.

I'd say it's important to get the bar to your chest unless you're doing board or floor presses. In a floor press you lay on the floor, usually in a power rack and do your benches from that position, your tri's end up flat on the ground so you never break parallel with your elbows. Board presses achieve a similar out come by placing a stack of 2x4's on your chest and lowering the bar only to the boards, 3 boards is about right for my arm length, you'll want to experiment and find what works best for you. These are both good for working on 'locking out' your normal bench and they work the chest and tri's differently than a full RoM bench.




are we really sure he needs a full ROM? we are in the beginners section and depending on your build, ecto, endo, meso, he may not need to do a full ROM. we all can't be classified to a specific category, but those of us that dont have shorter limbs and chests the size of volkswagens have a much larger ROM. i suggests placing a rolled up towel on your chest and lower the bar to it, then push back up. also try narrowing your grip, and not flaring the elbows out like other have stated.. a wider grip used over time can lead to shoulder impingement (tendons and ligaments being pinched between bones)= PAIN!
(also the fact that you possbily have shorter muscles and longer tendons doesnt help either.)
try pinching your shoulder blades together as well. doing this requires you to actively contract the muscles of the upper back, thus adding support and stability to the rear of the shoulder girdle (JB)



i thank you all for your input it has been very helpfull. im going to look into all of the ideas and i will let you know how they work.

thanks again