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Paused or T&G Bench?

I mainly train on abbreviated programs with strength being my primary goal, at first everything was going well ie I hit both my goals for squats and deadlifts without to much difficulty.

My bench however has always been a struggle so I pushed it hard for a while which ended up with me having severe tennis elbow to the point where I stopped training for quite a few months in order for it to heal.

This time round I’ve run into a new issue which is something I’ve not experienced before which is pain in my left shoulder.

I guess some of it is down to my age as i’ll be 50 next month but I was wondering if to much paused benching may have aggravated it and if it might be a wiser idea for me to use touch & go benches when I return to benching as i’m thinking this would put less stress on my shoulders…would I be correct in thinking that would be a better option for me regards my shoulders ?

paused bench is pretty hard on the ole shoulders.

If I were you I would just do whatever variation you can do pain free. This might mean dropping bench entirely

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Do you compete in PL?
if not, plenty of options for pretty much any goal. Could always incorporate a neutral bar, and personally I’ve found fat grip/thick bar bench has helped relieve some joint aches.

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Do some internal rotation tests on yourself, there are plenty on the YouTubes and lots of videos on how to fix.

From there check you are breaking the bar and slightly tucking your elbows.

I think it’s better to fix these issues than avoid them. If you feel like dumping the bench that’s cool but I’d still check for any shoulder issues.

Thanks for the replies, i’ll check out some internal rotation test video’s on youtube as I don’t want to give up benching.

you probably won’t have to give it up forever but give serious consideration to dropping for a little while to give your shoulders a break and get them healthy again


There’s no reason to bench. I fought nagging shoulder pain post bench day up until last year, when I dropped it completely. Now, I only incline bench and my shoulders are better than ever. If you’re not competing in PL, there’s no reason to bench.

Besides, incline benching a lot of weight is far more impressive than flat benching it.

I read a tip in an article on here a while back to take a plate and stick it under the ass end of the bench. You’re still “flat” benching, but the inch or two of decline will alleviate stress on the shoulders. DB bench with a neutral grip and incline bench are both options as well. Whatever works for you to relieve the pain

Thanks again everyone’s input, i’m going to take your advice and have a short rest from benching to allow recovery then when I return i’ll probably stick with close grip bench for a while and leave the pauses for now…Another option I have is to use my reactive slingshot for a while which helps out in the bottom portion of the lift so would take the strain off my shoulders :slight_smile:

Also consider range of motion. I don’t think every person is meant to bring the bar all the way to their chest. I came to this conclusion recently - limb lengths/ratios vary greatly from person to person! I noticed that during the bottom inch of the rep range, my bench press turned into a front delt movement. I tried stopping the bar at a point 1 inch above my chest, and it felt great. The load stayed predominately on my chest for the entire range of motion, and I had no joint soreness the next day. An added benefit is this method forces you really to control the weight on the eccentric portion of the lift. If you do this, you may need to widen your grip slightly to maintain perpendicular forearms and a “wrists stacked on top of elbows” posture.

PLing is the only time benching is mandatory.

Have you tried loading up push ups? My best bench was 305 and I can load up push ups enough to do a challenging 3x6 rep scheme. That’s about as good as I can do with dumbbell benching because of the practical consideration of hoisting the bells into position.

If you flare your elbows a little and lean your torso forward some, dips are an even better chest exercise than any barbell benching for me.

There’s also floor pressing.

If you’re hell bent on bench pressing, then reverse bands can take a lot of stress off that beginning portion which causes the most shoulder strain. Granted, that could make your elbows bad again.

Everytime I break 300 with bench press, I start getting shoulder issues so I’m taking either an extended hiatus or dropping it all together and all my pressing muscles in both strength and size have not at all taken a hit. In fact, the middle and top portion of my chest have finally started to fill in and my tris and shoulders are bigger too.

I’m currently doing all my benching…


The horror

the horror

Thanks for the advice it’s much appreciated. Whilst my shoulder isn’t fully recovered yet it’s definitely on the mend, I tried some close grip benching on Saturday and that was pain free so that maybe the way of the future for me for the time being anyway :slight_smile:

That’s interesting you say that. I almost exclusively pause because it feels so much better on my shoulders. Where does the pause cause you pain?

I never do it but the acceleration into the bar (for lack of a better way of describing it) is hard on the ole tendons.

It’s not definitely going to cause problems, but it can.

Thanks! That makes sense. Being pretty young myself (I’m 22, no offense to you, especially since I don’t know your exact age) I don’t often think about that type of pain in paticular.

haha! I’m 30 so not old but not getting any younger.

One day you’ll be a broken down motherfucker like me

What I’ve noticed with guys like you is you’ll rationalize and ignore any advice that falls under the umbrella: ‘stop benching.’

So you might as well be smart about it.

As for touch-and-go benching being easier on the shoulders, that’s not necessarily true. The touch-and-go method in the bench (or any lift) utilizes the stretch reflex. Do too much of this and you’ll lose the ability to engage the lats, scapular retractors, and the overall ability to stay tight for paused benching. Furthermore, because the touch-and-go method allows you to move more weight, you can easily fall into the trap of going heavier than you realistically should.

So when you return to paused bench, you just might end up frustrated, re-aggravate old injuries, or even create a new ones.

And just doing any old “variation that you can do pain free” is decent advice - on the surface - but it fails miserably to address the fact that guys like you WILL probably continue benching as well as addressing the underlying causes of the injury.

You’re much better off getting an assessment. You clearly have imbalances; otherwise, you wouldn’t be accumulating injuries. The fact you recently started to experience pain in the left shoulder is proof enough.

Then have your form examined by someone with a PROVEN TRACK RECORD.

Be patient as you go through the recovery process (it may take a while but it sounds like you nipped a relatively minor problem before it becomes a major one).

Also integrate the reverse-band bench and push ups. This is one of the best advice given here; scroll up and read it again with an open mind.

It wouldn’t shock me if accessory work on lats, rotator cuff complex, scap retractors, and beefing up the shoulders - when they’re healthy - will pay dividends on the bottom phase.

Now continue working on the weak links and imbalances and SLOWLY and CONSERVATIVELY re-integrate the paused bench.

If you’re smart (and a little lucky), you should hit that coveted pr in the paused bench, which I concede is the most impressive style.

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Thanks for the reply, and your quite right in regards to me still wanting to bench, at the moment I am going with close grip bench until my left shoulder is fully healed but taking on board what you’ve said i’m making a big effort to lower the weight with control to take as much of the stretch reflex out of the lift as I can.

Powerlifting isn’t that common where i’m from so getting my form checked properly isn’t as easy as it sounds but whilst my form could definitely be better it’s not completely rubbish either.

whilst I don’t really access to reverse band benching I could give the push ups ago.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply it is appreciated

No worries. I’m confident things will work out in your favor as long as you’re patient.

If reverse-band benching is logistically not possible, another option is incorporating the board press, using different sizes. This can teach you to stay tight, especially at the bottom, while reducing the overall range of motion so you can heal.

I don’t know the nature of your shoulder injury but it is important to keep that humeral head centered in the shoulder socket. This is why it’s critical to work on those scapular retractors.

As you go through the learning curve in the push up - a beautiful movement that few actually master - you might want to consider easier variations on the one-arm push up.

Set up on a much easier angle - do not start off on the floor - and descend on one arm, then go up using both - very easy to self spot. (This also where reverse band really helps but I realize not everyone feels the need to incorporate them.) Don’t be surprised if one side is noticeably stronger than the other. Yes, the barbell is king but I’m convinced it’s a mistake to ignore other methods and philosophies.

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