Sets/Reps for Bench Press, Avoiding Injury

I’m a 49 year old, 170 lbs, man. I don’t heal as fast anymore. I’ve experienced small muscle strains turn into serious injuries by not paying close enough attention to them. So, recently I was doing the bench press. I felt shoulder pain on the second set. I stopped and later googled bench pressing and injuries.
My normal practice is to bench press a weight 12 times or reps for three sets. When I can do that for a month or more, I increase the weight. I had recently increased the weight to 130 lbs. At this point I could do 12 on the first rep, 9 on the second, and 7 on the third.
One of the sites I read from the web said doing 10 or 12 reps and three sets was to many reps for the muscles involved while doing the bench press. It recommended doing 5 reps and 5 sets. It said only to do 8 max. When you can do 6 reps go up on the weight 6 to 10 lbs. Any opinions about this, or advice about how to avoid muscle strain. My form is good by the way.

Avoiding injury is mostly about getting technique locked in, strengthening weak points and getting recovery right; sometimes you’ll need to fix pre-existing issues too; and being sensible in your weight selection will also play a part. There’s always going to be a risk, though.

One thing that isn’t really going to change the risk of injury is sets and reps, as long as you’re doing the important stuff right.


no need to add anything on this thread…

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Add some of these

Full ROM. Try for perfect technique every rep/Technique is never good enough. Pause Bench or at least avoiding bouncing. Leave a rep in the tank unless you’re going for a PR and try not to grind. Warm up generally and specifically for the bench. Proper rest times, too short you’re still fatigued and more likely to get injured, too long you’ll cool down and increase injury risk.

Higher reps can indirectly increase injury risk as not all muscle groups involved fatigue at the same rate. Too many reps is a relative thing. You’ll feel it when you start fatiguing tho

Damn @MarkKO with some good advice. You might also find you can move more weight once you get those things in order.

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Spot on MarkKo.
Ricky you might not be engaging your scapulas enough. This is a crucial part of benching because it allows the torso muscles to take control of the movement allowing you better range of motion, and less stress/impingement of the tendons at the front of the shoulder. To fully engage the scapulas you initate the movement with a down and back shrug, then let your arms follow. To give you an idea of the movement imagine doing a bench press without bending your elbows. When you have reached the full range of motion of the shrug, then bend the elbows to lower the weight to your chest or slightly above it if you still get pain.

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Bingo. My own experience has been that to improve your bench (and military press), you need a strong back. Without even opening the muscular balance can of worms, I’ve found I need to train my back twice as much as my pressing muscles to get any kind of progress on my pressing, EVEN WITH working on technique. It’s way, waaaaaay easier to lock your shoulders in and stabilise everything with a stronger back.

TL;DR hit pull-ups, barbell rows, lat pulldowns, dumbbell rows and pull aparts really hard and often.

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Thanks for advice. I think I know where to go from here thanks.

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