T Nation

Shoulders vs. Chest?

I seem to have the common problem of shoulders being more powerful than my chest and therefore most chest exercises end up being much less effective for my chest than they could be. What are some ways to get around this?

[quote]hazerfazer wrote:
I seem to have the common problem of shoulders being more powerful than my chest and therefore most chest exercises end up being much less effective for my chest than they could be. What are some ways to get around this?[/quote]

Besides doing rotator cuff related work, stop doing any isolated shoulder work.

How about doing some pre-exhaust exercises for your shoulders first?

[quote]hazerfazer wrote:
I seem to have the common problem of shoulders being more powerful than my chest and therefore most chest exercises end up being much less effective for my chest than they could be. What are some ways to get around this?[/quote]

A few things:
Pay close attention that your elbows are not too far out and that you do not shrug or pull your shoulders forward during chest pressing movements. You want your elbows about midway between touching your side and parallel with each other. Shoulders down and back to ensure maximal pec involvement.

Also some decline/dipping movements may help in keeping the front delts from taking over as well. Assuming you train at a gym that has machines, throwing in a few sets here and there on one with a neutral grip option can help you get the feel of forcing your pecs into the movement more as well.

In any case dropping the weight some until you get the feel dialed in may be necessary. Bottom line is the longer this goes on the more difficult it will be to correct.

[quote]Tiribulus wrote:
hazerfazer wrote:
I seem to have the common problem of shoulders being more powerful than my chest and therefore most chest exercises end up being much less effective for my chest than they could be. What are some ways to get around this?

A few things:
Pay close attention that your elbows are not too far out and that you do not shrug or pull your shoulders forward during chest pressing movements. You want your elbows about midway between touching your side and parallel with each other. Shoulders down and back to ensure maximal pec involvement.

Also some decline/dipping movements may help in keeping the front delts from taking over as well. Assuming you train at a gym that has machines, throwing in a few sets here and there on one with a neutral grip option can help you get the feel of forcing your pecs into the movement more as well.

In any case dropping the weight some until you get the feel dialed in may be necessary. Bottom line is the longer this goes on the more difficult it will be to correct.[/quote]

Good ideas from Tirib.

I think it was CT who recommended squeezing your hands towards each other while pressing (hands don’t actually move on the bar, but the action greatly increases pec involvement).

Cut back on anterior delt work, add in some flyes, cable crossovers, pec dec. You can also try alternating 1/4 reps with full reps. Decline presses might help as well, they take the shoulders out of the equation a little.

I have the same issue. It hits me especially hit (and has done since I started training) and it is one contributory factor to my shoulder woes (impingement, osteolysis, surgery etc.)

I have found that I have needed to drastically reduce the weight, keep shoulders back and

  1. push chest out a little during chest movements
  2. try and focus on contracting the rear delts and upper back - this seems to stabilise the entire shoulder girdle, keeping the anterior delts from taking over

I also do a lot of decline work and flies (DB and cable) as opposed to pressing movements. Dips are a no-go for me (kill my shoulders).

I have nearly the same problems. The only things that help somewhat for me are: decrease weight on bench, move the weight more slowly with a pause at the bottom. Might even try non-lockout chest work. Strict flyes and x-overs. Pre-exhaustion.

Amazingly, pushups are the only movement that seem to work my pecs. The problem of course is loading. Unless someone can safely add weights to your back, you might try assisted one-arm pushups with the non-working arm resting on something.
Dips and declines don’t seem to help in my case. As far as CT’s suggestion to pull the hands together, I’ve never gotten any results from that. Good luck.