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Shoulder pain while flat benching

Good morning – After a 2 year lay-off from bench pressing due to costochondritas (inflamed cartilage in ribcage) I have returned to benching. During the layoff I did strictly incline dumbbell press as it caused the least pain. I got up to 120x6 or 110x8. Now that the chest pain has subsided I decided to bench again. I did notice that I was stronger than I had ever been on Bench (IE 315x1 275x6 and 225x14 -all clean). I attribute this to development of the smaller “stabilizer” muscles during dumbbell work. My problem is that when I lower the bar to about an inch from my chest I get pain in my front delts where my pec ties in. Jut There is no pain when doing 100lb decline dumbbells for 10 solid reps (Don’t know if this is relevant)
Could over-development be limiting my range of motion?
Is this a shoulder injury waiting to happen?
I want to be injury-free this summer. Any pointers, suggestions. Any feedback would be appreciated. I weigh 200, and am 5’10’’ with 10% BF. I also do Cuban presses w/ dumbbells 1x a week during shoulder workout. Thank you in advance for your feedback.


My guess is rotator-cuff. How much back work do you do? Need balance. Try adding some rotator-cuff work. Lots of good exercises referenced on this site. Cuban presses, etc.
Worked for me.

you might consider overhead pressing instead of benching. overheads build stronger, more evenly developed (anterior, medial, and posterior) delts than benching well. Your description of your discomfort when benching does sound like an impingement in the making. I recommend Paul Chek’s article “big bench, bad shoulders.” if it’s not on this site it’s at paulchekseminars.com

Exactly what I had. It is old case of shoulder impingement that was reaggravated. Eventually, I found out that I had some mid-trap instability and slight weakness in my right bicep (same side as the bad shoulder). Most importantly, my external rotation was a 33% strength deficit from my internal rotation when it is supposed to only be 15%. It definitely hurt like hell when I did flat presses. My suggestion is to get yourself to an orthopedic specialist ASAP to get started on a rehab program designed to promote blood flow to the area. For now, make sure that you are keeping your grip width on presses at or less than 1.5 times shoulder width. Abstain from any exercises that aggravate it, too. You might even want to limit ROM. Good luck.