T Nation

Using Too Much Shoulder w/ Chest Work


Hi! I have this problem that during chest exercises i use the shoulders to much, and don't get to push the chest to a total. Do you guys have any tips i can use to fix this?


I find getting a good pump in my chest before/during benching helps a lot with feeling my chest work.


I've always felt a bigger chest pump if I try to squeeze the bar inwards. Like bring your hands together while squeezing. Not sure if this is unsafe or not, I'm only speaking from personal experience.


Switch to dumbbell presses. Keep the dumbbells facing each other so that both bells touch each other when they come up throughout the movement (i.e. knuckles facing each other at all times)


Actually flex your chest when you do chest work.


wide grip and tuck the elbows and push with the chest, lol i always get a huge chest pump doing bench work


You're advising to db bench press with your knuckles facing each other at all times? I can't help but think that would be extremely awkward.



You can change your grip placement and wrist position all you want but, if you don't actually focus on engaging your chest through the entire movement, you will continue to be delt and triceps dominant.


WOuldnt that be more like a power fly?


i'm delts/tris dominant too, flat bench don't work well (for hypertrofy) for me;too much tris and delts involvement,incline (25° not 45°,too high and incline bench become a delts excercise for me)is ok,dbs incline a lot better,especially if you do a dead stop in bottom position to eliminate miostatic reflex (or stretch reflex).....put you ego out of the dooor while doing dead stop; loads will go down but stimulus will go up.

recently I discovered low cable incline press and it is spot on; constant load during all the rom,a lot of feel,safier on partial reps than dbs.
just my view

PS; about flat bench,recently a friend of mine come to train in my warehouse gym,wanted to do bb flat bench,I had not perform bb flat bench in last 3 months,well the day after a lot of DOMS in my tris (no EMG evidence LOL)


warmup sets with slow negatives helps prime my chest for heavier weights. Play around with grip too. I recently found using a narrower grip on heavy sets lets my chest do most of the work oddly enough lol pushups on my off days helped me learn to recruit chest more efficiently too.


Your shoulders might be the weak link so they would gas first. They're right about flexing your chest, but until you learn how to do that you can do fly's to pre-fatigue them. Also if your doing a barbell bench perform partials in the bottom range for about 10+ reps. Even after you learn how to to flex, you can still do 1.5 range reps.


No, just a neutral press. Can be useful if you got shoulder issues (pain).

Power fly - press weight up and lower in a fly style.

If that makes sense?


Have you tried paused DB presses?
Pause for a 2 count with DB's in line with the body (elbows semi tucked), so nice and deep to get a stretch.

If you have shoulder pain/issues - this may not be suitable.

This gives me the worst chest DOMS of any exercise, weight will need to be scaled back - about 25% for me.

Alternatively how is your bench setup? Are you keeping scapular tight and depressed? - otherwise shoulders may roll forward when you're pressing?


As others have said:
1. Focus on really using your chest.
2. Pre-exhaust your chest before your compound movements. You can use pec deck, machine flies, cable crossovers. Go slow and really focus on the stretch and squeeze.
3. Make decline presses a staple in your chest routine.
4. When pressing make an effort to pinch your shoulder blades down and back and stick out your chest for every rep.
5. Lastly, try not touching the bar to your chest. Stop an inch or two before your chest for incline presses.

Read up on the anatomy and function of the pectorals and focus on what you learned every time you train chest.


I'm just going to throw this out here... I use to only get a tri and shoulder pump with pressing, and could ONLY hit my chest flyes. Last 2 months or so, I lowered my weight and did my reps the way CT advocates: explosive, and no 'stopping' during the concentric, just focusing on accelerating the weight all through the entire rep, especially that first first inch or two off the chest. This gives me a chest pump, while 'regular' reps did not. Also, pin presses from chest-ish level do the same (though when doing them my initial intention was for triceps).

I feel this advice could be REALLY individualistic, and I maybe an outlier in that explosive reps pump my chest for some random reason, but if you try all the other advice in here, and still no luck, you can give it a try.


I'll second/third neutral grip DB Presses, as well as pre-exhausting with flies of some sort. In general, whatever exercises you're hitting chest with, focus mainly on the portion of the movement where the chest is stretched the most. This is where it's doing the most work.


I think your misunderstanding me here. If your palms are open they would face each other and they stay that way the entire time. Not the back of your hands as I feel you thought I was saying. I guess either way your knuckles are facing each other so my bad on the wording.
Try it with a medium-heavy weight and tell me which method allows your chest contract harder on?


Ah I see what you mean now. I thought you meant palms not facing each other. I do agree that a neutral grip (palms facing) is good to eliminate shoulders in a db bench.


I thought a powerfly was a sort of half-press-half-fly movement. Almost as if you are doing a fly but with your elbows slightly bent? I'm not sure I've managed to describe this very well.