T Nation

Shoulder>Chest Problem!


I've searched high and low for anybody else with a problem like mine and i cant find too much information on it.

Im 5'10" 190lbs and I've been training roughly 3 years, Ive always had slow but steady gains since I started lifting but everything would always grow except my chest. Prior to ever lifting I genetically had large arms, broad shoulders and thick legs but i was always told i looked tiny because of my virtually non existent chest. I've been reading a lot on posture and I'm beginning to believe that plays a big role in it. It seems as if the retract and depress method has never worked for me, I've even given CT's "shrug" and press(I dont know how else to explain it) a lot of work and still nothing. By the end of a set my chest is at MOST 20-25%pumped and my front deltoids feeling like they did most of the work, no shoulder or rotator cuff pain, just a swell. My form seems to be of average, elbows tight but not closed, back arched up to the upperback, chest up and heels planted. I've also given strictly decline a wirl to relieve shoulder stress and STILL my shoulders feel pumped, my lats as well and my chest..meh. I'd really like to get to the bottom of this as its really lowering my motivation each and every chest day and my physique is suffering terribly with large front delts and microscopic chest.

Other info:
Deadlift:300(last time i maxed was a year ago)
Military Press: 155
Bench Press: 195(MAX one rep)

Been training DC for 6 months now.


just incase you haven't found it already there is a 'neanderthal no more' series (articles 1-4) that might be worth a look:


If it is due to posture / problems with activation then that might help you get started on how to correct things.



before I type this I want to say that I'm not trying to be mean or bring you down, but I feel that I need to be honest with you so that you can move forward.

sorry but you're pretty damn weak for that amount of time training, and you are definitely not ready for a program like DC. at roughly 6 months of lifting I hit 205 for a double, and I am certainly nothing special. I imagine even if I had worse leverages it would have taken me less than a year. DC is a program meant for advanced bodybuilders who cannot seem to progress using more traditional approaches.

I feel that your question is irrelevant since everyone's chest is going to be lagging with a 195 1rm bench, along with everything else.

if I were you I would go back to the drawing board and hit up a regular bodybuilding routine OR something like 531, 5x5 ect although I'm sure the former will be more appealing to you given your goals. focus on beating that log book every session and don't be afraid to gain weight.

good luck


Without a doubt i am weak im not arguing their. But when i say three years, you have to dilute that quite a bit do the military, weeks in the field, months in county with little or not free weights, and the god awful stress. I started doing DC 6 months ago because my training partner had been doing it for years and it became a pain in the ass on two different routines. Since adopting it i love it and have seen improvement and plataue breaks in most area(minus of course chest)


how strong is your gym partner


Hes constantly 100-150lbs ahead of me on all compound lifts. I was just wondering how my question is irrelevant? My proportion is very noticable, especially from the front. I believe it has everything to do with shoulders be so dominant that I can rarely activate my chest, especially on flat bench so you can imagine the difficulty I have with incline.


I say it's irrelevant because I tend to think a person should develop a base of strength on the basic compounds before they worry about lagging bodyparts. I think you should ask your partner what he thinks though since you're training with him. also if you're training dc you'll probably be using 3 chest lifts in rotation so I'd experiment with various levels of incline dumbell press as well as machines. but just that you're asking this question means you shouldn't be using the dc program imo.


I'm just a beginner, so if this is completely wrong so be it, but I thought a bodybuilding bench was done with a pretty much flat back. I thought the only arch you had was the natural arch and not anything exaggerated like in a powerlifting bench. Maybe that's your growth problem because you're incorporating your shoulders a lot more with a high arch. As far as an expert opinion, Dorian Yates says decline bench is the absolute best way to build your chest.


Envy: im aware that the arch is mainly for powerlifting purposes but like I said i have been experimenting with everything I can in order to see some form of growth or progression in the bench/chest area. I have been leaning more towards decline because of the better activation i get from it along with weighted dips. As of now my DC exercises for chest have been Flat, Incline and Decline but Im going to be changing it to Decline, incline and weighted dips to remove my delts from the movement as much as possible. Since DC is low volume/high frequency i should have adequate recovery time for those movements.


actually a big arch will turn it more into a decline bench reducing delt activation not increasing it


Ah. Makes sense. Good luck.


Thanks I appreciate the help. Im working a lot on posture and working some of the posture improvement excersises into the week. Hopefully I can have a have decent bench within the next year.


doing regular type bench presses won't work for you. your shoulders take over the exercise. You need to find ways to isolate your chest more. Have you tried to preexaust your chest. Preexhaust might work really well for you given you have a hard time getting your chest to do the work, instead of your shoulders. try doing some dumbell flies for a couple of heavy sets, then do your benches or inclines.


if you wait to long to address the lagging bodyparts, before you know it, it will be extreme. and it will take all that much longer to correct the problem. address it now.


Both of the vampires posts are spot on. Believe it or not.

Id only add that cable flys done on a bench are better than dumbell flys at isolating the pecs.

OP: until you learn to isolate your pecs with your brain lay off the pressing on chest day.


I think OP should go to IM and ask the doggcrapp guys what they think he should do since he is using their program (in the puppy pound)


My routine is based mainly around rest-pause, so would it be wiser to incorporate flys as a warmup in order to preexhaust or do you think heavy sets of flys superset prior to a pressing movement would do the job better?

Do you know of any mind muscle connection techniques as for as pecs go?


The key for me when it comes to developing a greater focus on the target muscle group, that I think a lot of people overlook, is figuring out what muscle is getting the greatest stretch at the bottom of the movement.

It's not uncommon to see guys complain that their shoulders take over their bench press, or their triceps, and then they upload a video and you can immediately see why. If your hands are in too close and your triceps are getting a good stretch at the bottom of your bench, they are going to get quite a bit of stimulation.

If you aren't moving your shoulders or arms correctly, or not holding your chest up, or bringing the bar down to the wrong place, it's very easy to get a stretch in the front deltoids that immediately wakes them up to take a brunt of the work.

You have to remember that the whole point of bodybuilding exercises is to fully stretch and contract muscles... just because you're doing a bench press doesn't mean your body knows it is supposed to be building your pecs. It's going to give the greatest stimulation to whatever muscle is getting the fullest stretch and contraction during the movement.

This is the same reason you don't fully lock out your elbows when doing pull ups or barbell rows... because then you are just asking your biceps to get more involved.

This is also the reason why I don't believe much in things like pre-exhausting a muscle, because you haven't resolved the real issue.

Long post for some pretty simple advice: tweak your form in the bench press so that you are stretching (not excessively) your pectorals at the bottom of the movement, and not your shoulders.

How would you stretch out your pecs without the barbell, just using a pole or a doorway? Or with no assistance, just swinging your arms? Try to imitate that feeling under the bar. In a bodybuilding bench press, the shoulders move back to make way for the chest as the bar descends, so that most of the stretch and squeeze is on the pecs.

You don't want to try and get some crazy stretch and rip your pec off the fucking bone, but you do need to tell your body that the chest muscles are the ones taking it through this movement.


Flex them as hard as you can regularly. Try to flex ONLY the pecs. Don't put your hands together in front of you, either. That invites your delts to join in.

Cable flyes, as Bonezy said. Prolly the best pec iso movement ever, especially if you keep your shoulders pinned back.



I've learned so much from John Meadows in the past six months, I feel like I should send him a check. Not going to, but it's the thought that counts, right?


pec dominant benchers don't have big pecs benching 195, I don't give a fuck how hard they think about them while they're doing it. sorry to be the ass in this thread but I feel like you're missing forest for the trees.

also, guys, if he's doing dc he's not going to be doing flies since you can't add alot of weight to flies over a short period of time which is what dc programming wants you to do. pre exhausting before your chest exercise will bring down the weight you'll be able to use fucking with the dc program. you can do that but you won't be doing dc anymore.

mr.popular is correct in that you should use form or pick a movement that allows the target muscle to be stretched at the greatest range of motion (or the ROM where it is worked the most). if you've studied dc properly you'd know that flat benching isn't recommended as a chest exercise anyways as there is a high risk involved compared to other exercises. also if you're doing the chest stretch properly that will make or break your chest growth on this program.

okay I'm done posting in this thread

please go to the IM board and use the search function if you plan on continuing with dc