How Dramatically Does a Rotator Cuff Tweak Affect the Bench?

Hello. I tweaked my rotator cuff. Nothing bad and no tears, but it just is achy. I’ve done this before and ultimately it works itself out if I lay off of it for a while.

My question, however, is how much the rotator cuff contributes to the bench. Before my injury, I was benching progressively heavier weights and making good progress. However, since the cuff issue, my bench has really fallen off. Something along the lines of 50-60 lbs. I assume it is the cuff issue and not technique, because like I said, I was making good progress. I don’t think I hurt it benching, but rather doing weighted pull ups and dips.

Any thoughts on this and also should I stop all benching and overhead work for two weeks or so, or is it better to go really light (and also do more rotator cuff specific exercises, which I have been trying to do). Thanks in advance.

Not to an Al Pacino level of dramaticism.

Maybe to Dustin Hoffman or Meryl Streep level.


It is tough to tell exactly what is going on with shoulders. I think I have had a few issues in the past. One of them, I didn’t have any injury event, nothing was sore, but I just lost stability and a lot of strength for pressing in one arm. Like I had a 1RM of 385 lbs on bench, and the next week I nearly failed a warm up rep of 185 lbs, and sets of 5 with 135 were difficult.

I’d spend a bit of time doing mostly different stuff than bench. You could do a bit of it just to stay practiced. It seems for me, that reducing volume and intensity for a period seems to work well every time my shoulders have issues.

How did you tweak it?

Where does it hurt?

How do you know there are no tears?

What motions cause pain, specifically?

The answer to how much this affects bench depends on a lot of things we don’t know.

Hi. Same thing for me. Generally a loss of stability. Like one time I was DB benching with a weight that I could do in my sleep, and I totally had to drop the DB

Tweaked doing weighted pull ups and dips.

It hurts on the back of my shoulder. Basically the muscle that goes across my shoulder blade.

Not sure there are no tears. Just assuming. Perhaps there is a minor tear (I read on the google that rotator tears at not like cutting with a scissor across the muscle, but rather like having a hole punched into it).

It does not hurt when benching, but afterwards it does.

It sounds like a pinched nerve in your neck, not a rotator cuff issue.

If your shoulder is jacked up, it hurts to bench press. Especially during the eccentric and near the bottom.

After years of reading these kind of threads, the sudden loss of stability and strength out of no-where is a nerve related issue. Like tight neck/traps are squeezing neck vertebrae together and now some little muscle is not working.

And from personal experience, that dull aching pain across the shoulder blade, is 100% neck related.

Try a couple Chin Tucks and see if the back of your neck feels tight and restricted. And if your shoulder blade pain resolves.

Interesting, Mr. Farmer. I will try that. That might be it. I recall early when this was hurting me that the fingers in my left hand (same side as the shoulder) were a little tingly. Maybe it is a nerve. As noted above, when I was DB benching, I lost strength on my left side so quickly and unexpectedly that the dumbbell nearly crashed on me.

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I agree with this. I think that was my issue.

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Haha! You were the “Last Straw” or “the final case study” that totally convinced me.


I never did figure out exactly what that was, but nerve issue is still my top suspicion. It just didn’t make sense it being muscle or tissue related. Something would have hurt I think.

Strength did eventually come back up. Was kinda a long road though. It was mostly just time I think that made it better. I spent a few months not really getting past 155 lbs for reps on bench (and not doing much bench volume), then all of a sudden it was like I could do at least 10 lb jumps in weight each week. Then I passed up where I was, and then another shoulder issue popped up which I am dealing with now. For now, I am just taking a break from the barbell bench, and doing neutral grip DBs. I am doing higher rep lower weight for now. We will see. At a certain point, I might just have to accept that my body isn’t going to handle the work required to progress to say a mid 400s bench? IDK? I guess where I am at now is why not work on some of the less developed muscles and groups. I’d like to be able to chin as much weight as I bench for example (BW + added weight). Maybe work the squat a bit more. Be a bit more balanced. That’s a good goal even if I didn’t have shoulder issues, but with them, it is a huge added bonus.

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I like the idea of Balance in general.

And the chin up specifically. It seems like the motion of pulling the scap “down” and “connecting” the shoulders and arms to the ribs is/are “lost” by these neck problems. Chin ups seem like a good way to build that back up.

Also big Eric Spoto is awesome at chinups.

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Screwed up my rotator cuff doing weighted dips almost a year ago. I’ve now managed to ding both shoulders the same way.

I’ve been using a Swiss bar for benching ever since.

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He is impressive at them. I mean he is a huge dude, so it is crazy.

I think Dave Tate said they are a great and neglected exercise. He compared them to the squat for the upper body.

I do wonder if they impact the shoulders though. I skipped OHP about two weeks ago because the shoulders were extra cranky. Just did chin ups, rows and some arms. My shoulders were pretty sore after that.

I love dips, but it seems whenever I add them to a program I am starting a shoulder issue timer. It always seems I am good for about 3 weeks and then I get an issue.

I might be doing some Swiss bar bench coming up. I don’t particularly like the one my gym has though.