T Nation

I Think I'm Done Barbell Benching


Hey fellas, ive been having problem with my left shoulder for a few years now. have done many many external rotations, face pulls, pulling exercises, etc. to fix this and it has worked wonders. however, i was flat barbell benching on Tuesday, and on my last set i got the bar halfway up and felt the most painful sensation in my left shoulder and dropped the bar. i havent been able to do any sort of pressing movement since as it hurts too much. i use the exact form dave tate outlined in his recent video. i used to do the bodybuilder, elbows flared out technique

my question is: i will probably just drop flat benching completely and switch to using dumbbells. which variation would you guys recommend? Flat DB, Incline DB, Decline DB?

thanks in advance


I'm a fan of incline DB (normal grip) or decline DB (neutral grip). I'm sure each will work fine, so use the one that limits the pain.

EDIT: Actually, I'd work on getting yourself fixed before doing any pressing movement. Ignoring it might just aggravate it even more until something worse happens.


Check this out...might give some good ideas for other options.



Of course you do.


bodybuilding is about using the exercises that allow you to stimulate the muscles maximally while doing so without injury.

good luck with other exercises OP. db's are usually considered better for bodybuilkding than flat barbell.


I do both incline and flat because I feel it is more effective right now for me to do these and maybe after the begin to fall off I'll add decline and see what happens. You got experiment with all three and see what works for you. And visit JPCleary's link. You also do not have to do just pressing excerises to increase the chest muscles, just sayin.


Most pressing movements using barbells and dumbbells hurt my shoulders. I was never strong on pressing but once I hurt my shoulders, I could not go heavy (relative to me) on any at all. It was frustrating.

I tried many machines and found that the seated Hammer Strength bench pressing machines were the ones that cause the least amount of discomfort, so I do these now primarily. I think you should just try to find any movement that does not hurt and do those.


You say you were using Dave Tate's form, right? Well, why? That form is not for bodybuilding purposes and Tate will be the first one to tell you that. It sounds like you were simply using weights that you couldn't handle properly. Lifting more weight is not the same as ego lifting, especially in bodybuilding.

Dumbbells, smith machine, and machine press exercises are all there to pick up the slack. Many bodybuilders use them and get great results while working around injuries. Dude, listen to your body.


I've got strong opinions on this as I've been working around shoulder injuries for years. Although lifting wasn't the cause (I have dislocated a left shoulder badly several times playing different sports) I've had to tailor lifting around the injury for about 8 years now....and I haven't used a barbell for pressing movement since.

I limit pressing compared to what I used to do, and 75% of the time use a neutral grip for bench and overhead pressing movements. I only go heavy using a neutral grip and don't go any lower that 4 or 5 reps. I also use cables and lots of push up variations (strap push ups/scap push ups etc). Search T-Nation for the shoulder saver series as well.

Try to stay positive and treat it as a challenge - you can still get a good workout but, at least for me, the days of 1 rep max benching are long gone.


Barbell benching has never done much for me as far as chest-development goes. I get much better results from DBs or HS machines, etc... I have fucked my shoulder up twice doing it though. Haven't done it in about 6 months and don't plan to ever again.


I like all three angles. I to have had problems with the bar and my shoulder. I only lift DB's and my gains have been great. I know it's not so cool but I have added the swiss ball to my db presses/flys and it has added a new dimension to my lifts.

Try a set of 100's on the squishy ball. You'll need to use all of your core muscles to do a 5 X 5 set. If you wear a belt, db's will pinch the shit out of ya when you roll back to set em!!


try weighted pushup, normal and incline. Buy a backpack en put the weights in there! i also hate doing bench presses and love pushups. mayb give it a try


alrighty sound good, thanks for all the positive feedback guys. on the bench i was really going for heavy lifts more than i was trying to really pump up my chest, as majin said my ego got the best of me, which is why i was using that form.

but like i said, all in all i am done with that. i actually gave the hammer strength machine a try and really enjoyed it. i have heard many negative things from people around here so never tried it. i felt my chest doing much more work than i do just using a barbell.


how does a dude who doesn't even look like he works out have to give up benchpressing?

i don't understand that




I've been noticing that it seems 'trendy' to bag the flat bench a bit....maybe it's an offshoot of the popularity of DC training which doesn't seem to favor it.

Oh well, monkey see monkey do (or in this case monkey say monkey do).

To the OP, if you're having problems with the type of pain you described, I think you have other issues to address than cutting out flat bench. Go get it looked at properly.


or maybe, there is a reason as to why people downgrade the flat bench. why is it so necessary to do this movement? just because arnold did it? i never hear people blowing out their shoulders on the incline press or decline. or on dumbbells. but i do hear a lot of people telling how they fucked up their shoulders on the flat bench. if you are a powerlifter, then sure. but if someone wants to build a big chest without needing surgery any time soon, then there are other options. We are not all structurally the same.

HINT: if an upper body movement is such that it takes articles and articels to learn how to even do it properly without injuring yourself... then maybe it's time to look at other options ESPECIALLY if those other options are a lot easier to learn and don't have the same injury risk.

I used to do dips. Then I realized that no matter how i tweaked my form, they fucked up my shoulders. I stopped doing them. Is this heresy?

Or maybe I'm just not as hardcore as everyone else here.


One problem with most bench press variations is that they go beyond the natural range of motion for the chest. I am not sure if this has been suggested, but I would recommend performing Dumbbell or bench press from the floor. This will ensure better form while focusing more on the chest.

I often vary between floor dumbbell press for hypertrophy and barbell lockouts (with a flat bar elevated on Reebok steps) for strength/hypertrophy.


a lot easier to learn? dude it's a BENCH PRESS. we're not doing fucking rocket science over here.

if you have the mental capacity to log onto an internet forum, sign in with a name and password, and then whine about how u're tummy hurts when you bench press, you can certainly learn how to do the freaking movement.

there's 'articles and articles' on freaking lateral raises. you think i should give those up too? shit, how about this - i won't do any exercises that i can find 5 articles and 2 instructional videos on. that way i can end up looking the the OP and never have to worry about pain.

i'm not saying you have to do every exercise in the book. hell, the MAJORITY of seasoned guy's that i know that bodybuild usually have a few exercises they don't do because of pain or injury.

but when a random dude off the street says he has to 'give up benching' when the GIRLS I DATE have a higher muscularity than him....well shit, time to get his case of vaginaitis examined.

...or maybe i need to stop banging trannies. but you get the point


Yup. Whenever I got heavy I do it from the floor, and I never use a barbell.