T Nation

Setting Up Shoulders in Decline Bench?


I stopped doing regular BP due to shoulder issues. Took one month break, then continued doing declines instead, which was a very good move for my shoulders. They were hurting so bad it interfered with my sleep, but now they are almost completely pain free.

However, I worry about my form now with decline. The fact is, the "down and back" cue for shoulders used in the regular BP does not simply work for me on the declines - the weight forces my shoulders to a "up and back" position, that is, they get forced towards my ears. My guess is everybody has this problem, or do you?

I am thinking maybe the correct thing to do is to do this on purpose all the way then, to dig the shoulders deep but also towards the ears, so they are in fact stable and do not start moving without control on the heavy weights.

Any thoughts greatly appreciated.


I set my shoulders the same way for all pressing variations. Back and down.


Well, the problem was it was not working. I got it fixed by changing the bench setup so that the decline angle is smaller, and using a rubber mat to get more traction. Now I can use the regular setup…


Rubber Matt For Traction!

Great problem solving. Thanks for reporting back with that. I saw some videos of some strong benchers wrapping their flex bands(giant rubber bands) around the bench for extra “back grip” a few months ago. It seemed so smart, I wanted to try it. But I forgot all about it.

If it works on the decline, it should be great for flat and incline too. Anyway, thanks again for reporting back, and putting this on the radar again.


I do that thing with the band on the bench


In the past I’ve used shirts with big patterns on the back for grip. Currently I just take my shirt off, but that’s probably not an option in commercial gyms.


It just seems like an idiot proof way to make sure you’re setting up correctly to bench. I can “feel” myself digging in, and getting my traps on the bench, and I haven’t even tried it yet.

How am I going to sleep till bench day?