Meet in 13wks. Shooting Pain in Shoulder/Arms from Squatting

Hi everyone,

I’m training for a powerlifting competition in about 13 weeks time. I am being coached and things are progressing a little, but not that much.

Last week when I squatted with my coach it went well and I smashed my previous PR. After I did bench press and started getting shooting pains. I ignored it and just thought it was from training really hard and doing heavy singles.

The shooting pains continued into the next day and were really uncomfortable. Again I just put it down to working hard.

Yesterday I did squats again - this time by myself. Even at around 60% of my 1 rep max the shooting pains started. I was planning on doing 3x5 with 70% of my 1rm but couldn’t do it due to the pain.

The shooting pain runs from my shoulders, the sides and front, down into my biceps. It’s VERY uncomfortable and a bit painful.

I spoke to my coach about it who said it could be that my pecs and lats are really tight, which means my whole upper body is hunched forward and not set back as it should be. He suggested doing more shoulder mobility exercises, loosening up the pecs/chest which I will try.

Has anyone experienced this?


i am assuming you are squatting low bar? this has happened to be before, you can try widening where you take your grip with your hands or go thumbless.

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Don’t wanna be a dick or anything but is there really a point in asking this? You have a coach(I’m assuming he’s an actual coach who guides you every step of the way and not just a friend who gives you advice semi-regularly), just listen to what he says. As for the question, yeah, shoulder pains do come along with squats on occasion, I would say it’s part of the game really.

Double this, hands out wider, gp thumbless, drop a pinky under the bar, anything to reduce the bicep/shoulder impingement that’s happening

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I had the exact same problem. It mostly has to do with weak rotator cuff muscles combined with lots of benching. I’m also guessing you squat low bar, I have never heard of a high bar squatter getting that problem. Basically, your rotator cuff muscles are not keeping the head of your humerus properly centered in the shoulder joint and that is causing the humerus to push against muscles, connective tissues, and nerves.

The solution is to start doing lots of external rotation work, I would recommend mostly stuff like band pull aparts because they are not as fatiguing as doing hundreds of pull ups or rows. You should do rows and pull ups too of course, but aim for something like 2:1 external rotation:pressing. Also do supinated bicep curls, that will help with the bicep pain. If your squat grip is close then you could move it out a bit, but in my experience that wasn’t a long term solution.

You can search for Eric Cressey too, he has some useful articles relating to this, some on this site as well.

Yea that’s right, I am squatting low bar.

I did move my hands out as suggested. I have moved my hands out so that my index finger is on the ring of the bar. That has helped quite a lot. I don’t feel quite as tight, but it’s better than before when my shoulders were very painful.

I don’t think you’re being a dick! However, I asked on here for two reasons:

  1. To see if anyone else had the same issue… sometimes it’s good just to hear that others also have experienced the problem

  2. How did the people that had the issue solve it or address it?

I did ask my coach but he was just about to meet a client so couldn’t talk much.

Thanks - it makes sense that my rotator cuffs are being hammered. On my last squat session (2 days ago), I did more shoulder work to warm up - with a band. I will do the rotational work too. I also did 3 sets with just the bar to allow my shoulders to get used to the position.

The new training programme I’m on says to do:

Squats - 5x4 reps with 77.5% … and then 3 sets of 2 reps with the same weight + 10kg extra

Paused squats - 3x3

Close grip bench press - 5x5

After doing the squats and paused squats I could barely do the bench as my shoulders were so fatigued and worn out. I spoke to my coach who said I just need to get used to it, but still it was really hard and I couldn’t actually finish all the sets and in the end did 3x3 instead.

I will keep at it as I’m sure it is just partially me having to get used to the volume and the training programme itself.

Apart from widening your grip, work on pulling our elbows into your sides rather than forward. That helped me a ton, and I used to have a heap of elbow pain. Also consider using SSB squats for a few weeks if you can, just to let things calm down.

While training for my last meet I exclusively did 0 straight bar work for squatting up until about 6 weeks out. Helped my shoulders/biceps/elbows a ton.

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