T Nation

Looking for Insight on a Few Issues


My most recent issue is joint pain. I seem to get it sporadically, but a trend is starting to appear. I feel elbow pain when I do overhead tricep extensions, but never on heavier movements such as bench presses or standing overhead presses. I also feel a click at the very bottom of movements such as the extensions and close grip bench presses. I feel shoulder pain mostly when warming up for my overhead presses. I'll pick up the bar and do half-reps in the 10-20 rep range just to get blood flowing and I'll usually experience pain every set until the last big work set (doing 5/3/1). Whether I don't feel the pain or I'm just too concentrated to feel it, I don't know. This shoulder pain does not appear during seated dumbbell presses or barbell bench presses.

What am I to do? I'll buy a joint supp, patches, etc if it will help.

Moving onto the next issue: Deadlifts.

I always foam-roll and stretch before I even touch a bar. I warm up with RDL's until the work sets and do full-range DLs. I keep getting upper back pain during these work sets. I feel as though they are lower-trap muscle cramps or spasms, but foam rolling isn't helping them. This wouldn't worry me too much, but I feel that it impairs my ability to keep my shoulder blades back during the lift.

Is anyone familiar at all with this phenomenon?

This last issue is in regard to my actual training.

I'm on Wave 3 of 5/3/1 and I have a dilemma. I did not squat or deadlift during week 3 (5/3/1 week) or week 4 (deload week) of the Wave 2 because of other commitments. I went into Wave 3 and set PRs for all movements except the squat and deadlift.

Wave 2, week 2 I deadlift 235 for an easy 9, last night I could only pull 250 for 2.
Should I redo the squats and deadlifts from wave 2 and 3 or should I take the numbers I did most recently and use 90% of them as my max?

I would love some help here.


Elbows: some people (me sometimes) get pain from any type of tricep extensions and they usually avoid them for that reason. for strength they are not that necessary anyway.

Shoulders: not sure what to say about this. what kind of movements are you doing to warmup your shoulders? if a few sets with the bar is all you do to warmup i would add other warmups.

Deadlifts: so youre warming up with RDLs and then going full range when you get to working sets?? if im reading this right dont do that, haha. you should be warming up using the full range of motion you will be using for work sets.
also, in what way are you trying to keep your shoulders back during the DL

No comment on 5/3/1 as im not too familiar with it.


Any type of extension? Something's wrong there...

That being said, standard skullcrushers to the forehead or nose (basically with upper arms perpendicular to the floor), standing overhead extensions with a barbell etc cause a great many trainees trouble...

Try PJR's, there really should be no elbow pain during those... Rolling extensions are more popular in powerlifting though.
Or try using a single DB for overhead extensions, but grab it with both hands (fingers intertwined) like you'd do on a PJR... Don't go low in reps obviously...

As for skullcrushers, if you must do them, try raising your head off the bench and thus limiting ROM...
I prefer doing them with an EZ Bar (the big one, not the curl bar though that works to a degree as well) gripping the inner handles (or on a neutral grip bar, also fairly close) and bringing the bar down behind my head (either onto the bench or below)... That really helps avoid elbow pain during the movement and you should be able to work up to very heavy poundages over time (I'd avoid totally locking out each rep on all these, personally, and at the end of each rep, don't let the upper arms come all the way to perpendicular to the floor)... Takes some forearm strength though with heavier weights and that may be an issue, as tight forearm musculature could be one reason for your elbow pain.

Then there are overhead extensions done standing or on your knees (could put elbows on benches or some such, or just stand and use some body english... In general, adding something of a pullover motion will make the long head do more of the work and helps keep the pain at bay) facing away from a cable station, bent forward.

PJR's are the most elbow-friendly of the bunch though. Dips with a fairly close hand-spacing and tucking your elbows all the way work fine, too... When at the bottom, sort of try to push your chest forward and up with your arms if that makes sense.


Just for clarification, the tricep extension I am performing is a diamond press and is essentially the pjr done seated. Here it is done standing---> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Vyt2QdsR7E
I'm assuming the pjr will hurt just the same as the extensions :frowning: and the dips kill my shoulders. I will try to limit my rom on extensions. I always tried to get a full stretch at the bottom and a hard contraction at the top.

As for warming up for the shoulder presses, I do several sets with progressively heavier weight to warm up. I mentioned using just the bar to explain that I get the shoulder pain with even the lightest of weights.

I will try to do all DLs from the floor from now on.

I appreciate the advice guys, I will take it into account. If anyone has more info about the back spasms please come forth!

Does anyone have ideas with what to do about my 5/3/1?


I've never been a huge fan of either overhead extensions or even skullcrushers to the nose or forehead...especially training for powerlifting, there is no reason to emphasize the eccentric portion of the movement and when you've got a bar over your face you MUST put emphasis on or you're eating the weight. I was introduced to rolling extensions / modified DB extensions in '95 or so, when Kenny Patterson was one of the big benchers of the day. It wasn't until I visited Westside that I learned I was doing them all wrong. When you lock out the DB's they shouldn't be any more forward than your eyes (if you draw an imaginary line on the ceiling with your eyes) the DB's should be locked out on that plane or behind, not forward of (moving towards your neck / body.

I took the concept and ran with it. I haven't really seen anyone doing these, but I'm sure that someone else does them--concentric extensions. Do them off of the floor use a barbell or EZ curl, start with the weight behind your head and extend the weight up just like you would with a skull crusher, again don't let the weight go beyond that plane I spoke of earlier. When you lock it out, drop her back down.

One of the guys that trains with us is 49 and has chronic elbow issues and these don't seem to aggravate his elbows too much. I'd also recommend grabbing a band and doing some restoration work / pushdowns on a regular basis.

As for the RDL's, I'm not sure why you're having upper back pain...in another thread someone was talking about upper back development and the deadlift and I was scratching my head about how upper back really assists the deadlift much at all...My only guess here is maybe you're actually contracting your upper back instead of relaxing it? I'm not a huge fan of RDL's anyhow, again the eccentric/concentric of the movement. The deadlift is 100% concentric movement.


PJR's are done lying down (shoulders stay on the bench, it's not a lat pullover after all) and due the the upper arms not being perpendicular to the floor and the force being applied differently (if you were standing, think of the DB being pulled back rather than down), they really shouldn't hurt.

FWIW I had some discomfort doing the standing extensions, but that only happens when I go too heavy or my elbows are beat up from other shit... Or if I haven't warmed them up with other exercises first.

So, the actual PJR's are imo your best bet.

The standing extensions I do with a different grip though... Hands gripping the handle, not the "plate" as the latter gives me wrist discomfort etc (small hands).

Regular dips kill my shoulders too... And if I go heavy on pressing exercises all the time or use too much ROM or some such, my bicep tendons at the shoulder tend to give me trouble (no matter what setup)...

What part of your shoulders hurts? One of the rotator cuff muscles, bicep tendon, front or back...?

About the ROM... Yeah... In training, use whatever ROM gives you no pain and still gets the job done (sometimes that gets the job done a lot better than full ROM, esp. on iso stuff or if you press frequently, for example, and aren't really built for it).

Need some more info on how and where exactly you are hurting, joint by joint, and what the pain feels like (dull and spread out, sharp and localized?).

You don't necessarily need to do extensions as previously mentioned, but on most presses the medial and lateral head of the triceps do most of the work...

You could try doing wide-reverse grip benches (bar goes through the crease the flesh of your hand makes, don't use a death grip with all fingers, it's mostly thumb and index finger and maybe one other wrapped around the bar) in a non-counterweighted smith machine (straight works best imo, but if you have an angled one, set up so that as you press up, the weight also travels towards your feet)... Set up as if benching, press towards your feet as well as up (i.e. against the smith rails)... If reverse grip is too awkward for you (use wrist wraps!), then try a regular, closer grip (shoulder width or whatever fits)... Won't be able to tuck the elbows as much though.

Lots of other exercises available, but do see if you can pinpoint what causes your elbow pain and try to fix it...

Not sure about your shoulder pain etc, give more info on where it hurts and so on.

Bushidobadboy and some other posters are very knowledgeable when it comes to such things, try shooting him a PM (don't think he reads the PL forum, but I'm not sure) or post in the injury forum.

Where do you feel a click when doing extensions/CGP? Shoulders? Elbows?


I agree on the rolling extensions... It's the same basic concept as a PJR and those EZ extensions lying down, bringing the bar behind the head... You use something of a pullover motion to bring the long head into play and you stop at an incline rather than perpendicular...

Maraudermeat uses them a lot, I believe? He has plenty of vids on youtube under "rawelite".


are shoulder presses your first movement? if so i would be doing much more to warm them up. such as, light lateral/front raises, circles, light rows/pulldowns, etc. if youre doing them in the middle of the workout idk what to say. or just listen to C_C, hehe

ive gotten these before, ouch. dont know what caused it though