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  1. #1
    Registered User das79's Avatar
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    shoulders hurt on flat bench

    Does anyone else get shoulder pain when doing flat bench? Is this caused by bad form, or do I just have bad rotator cuffs? I can lift heavy on incline without problems, but the flat kills me. Any ideas?
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    What kind of pain is it an actual pain were it really feels like its hurting and cant go on or a feeling were its being worked, i can feel mine have been worked a bit after bench but not a hurting pain
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    Registered User das79's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by EnglandLifter View Post
    What kind of pain is it an actual pain were it really feels like its hurting and cant go on or a feeling were its being worked, i can feel mine have been worked a bit after bench but not a hurting pain
    No, its a pain as in I have to stop for fear of doing damage. I have pushed through in the past, but then had do take a week or so off because it would hurt to raise my arm. I think its my rotator cuff, but not sure. Like I said before, when I do incline, I have little to no problems. Also, for some reason, if I do dumbell flat bench, it doesnt bother me as much as barbell flat bench. But it still can hurt if I try to push to much weight.
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    Could be hand positioning if dumbells dont hurt or were you bring the bar down to ? try bringing it a bit lower down chest
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    when benching, are your elbows cocked out at 90 degrees? or are they tucked in a little more closer to your body?
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    It might be your form, it might be weight, it might be your rotators. I used to have shoulder pains too, in my case it was form. Use a grip width that puts your forearms perpendicular to the floor when the bar is lowered. Make sure your elbows are not in line with your shoulders nor are they too close to your body, you should use a comfortable angle between the two. Squeeze your shoulder blades together so that you have a stable base for benching, arch your back, push your chest out. Control downward movement and explode upwards, too slow execution can put undue stress on your joints. Of course there is more to proper form, but these are the elements I can relate to your problem. If still feeling pain, try lowering the weight, if that doesn't work go see a doctor.
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    I found my shoulder pain on bench stopped when I started using a wider grip
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    If using a barbell hurts, then stick with dumbbells. Keep your shoulders retracted as you push, and don't flare your elbows too far away from your body. If you feel pain, stop. If it persists, rest until you can bench without pain. As soon as you cause serious damage to your shoulder, it will never be the same.
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    Op, I have exactly the same as u have! I can incline barbel bench heavy, but not flat, for flat bench I use dbs and feel awesome! I cant use med grip neither, then I feel like high-tension current inside the area between wrist and elbow when OH pressing, benching etc. But If wide grip, then no probs. I dont think its about my form or weight, but some rotator cuff issue. So I dealed with it, and just use DB instead of barbell for flat bench and wide grip for all press exr.
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    This video helped me heaps and saved my shoulders.
    Last edited by Oz_Dude; 03-01-2012 at 12:08 AM.
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    Originally Posted by das79 View Post
    No, its a pain as in I have to stop for fear of doing damage. I have pushed through in the past, but then had do take a week or so off because it would hurt to raise my arm. I think its my rotator cuff, but not sure. Like I said before, when I do incline, I have little to no problems. Also, for some reason, if I do dumbell flat bench, it doesnt bother me as much as barbell flat bench. But it still can hurt if I try to push to much weight.
    DB Bench is better than BB Bench, but the cause of the pain is probably muscle imbalance. I suggest you add more shoulder workouts to your routine to make up for your weak shoulders. It also would help if you do light upright rows.
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    The above post by foreverSN is great advice. I'd incorporate that in no doubt and if you do, train your front delts more. Before flat pressing, I'd suggest warming up with a 2.5 or 5 lb weight to stretch that RCuff some for about 5 min.
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    shoulders hurt on flat bench

    Originally Posted by das79 View Post
    Does anyone else get shoulder pain when doing flat bench? Is this caused by bad form, or do I just have bad rotator cuffs? I can lift heavy on incline without problems, but the flat kills me. Any ideas?

    Do incline.
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    Do you have any scapular winging? I did and it caused me intense pain first on flat bench then as I kept working out wrong it progressed to any pressing motion. Had to take 3 months off from doing any presses.
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    Originally Posted by Oz_Dude View Post

    This video helped me heaps and saved my shoulders.
    Thanks, I guess I've been benching wrong all along, no wonder my bench is so crap.
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    Registered User das79's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Oz_Dude View Post

    This video helped me heaps and saved my shoulders.
    Man, thank you for posting the vid. I dont think I have been focusing on my form enough when I get up higher in weight. I definately think I have been lacking the proper form this video points out, especially when lifting heavy. Thanks again.
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    Something the video doesn't mention, but I find helps to take the strain off the shoulder joint and put it on the pec where you want it, is to squeeze your shoulder blades together while bench pressing. I squeeze them together while getting situated on the bench, and keep them that way through the set. Try it out, in combination with what the video says.

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    Registered User das79's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by nerd_power View Post
    Something the video doesn't mention, but I find helps to take the strain off the shoulder joint and put it on the pec where you want it, is to squeeze your shoulder blades together while bench pressing. I squeeze them together while getting situated on the bench, and keep them that way through the set. Try it out, in combination with what the video says.

    -Andrew
    Thanks for the tip, I will definately give it a try. Im heading to the gym in about a hour to work out my chest, so I will see if the tips help. I think they will.
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    yes, yes i have. i pitched for 8 years as a kid before i even began lifting. when i started getting into the higher weight ranges my shoulders really began to hurt.

    while scrolling down i saw some benching vids. i'm assuming they describe the olympic style, in which elbows are tucked and bar is lowered to the bottom part of your chest. if so, this is what helped me push into the 300+ weight range w/ little to no pain in my shoulders. you should know however, this isn't the best chest exercise. it allows you to use more tricep/lat to do the movement. as such, i'd recommend doing a dumbell press for chest development in addition to the flat bench.
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    Originally Posted by das79 View Post
    Does anyone else get shoulder pain when doing flat bench?
    Not since I quit Flat Benching 3-4 years ago. No more shoulder pain that would keep me awake at night.

    Is this caused by bad form, or do I just have bad rotator cuffs?
    It could be either one or both. Some people (such as myself) have poor body mechanics for that lift, and no matter the hand spacing, elbow position, ROM, or anything else that's potentially correctable, Flats just don't work for us.


    I can lift heavy on incline without problems, but the flat kills me. Any ideas?
    Yes. Stop beating your head against a brick wall, and step away from Flat Presses.

    Try dumbbells, any and all machine Presses, Inclines (which you've already found you can perform pain-free), Flyes, Cable X-Overs, and any other variant you can do that doesn't cause pain.
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    The source of the pain could be bad form, but at the same time it's probably shoulder impingement. Too many novice weight trainers only train what they can see in the mirror, and forget about all those other muscles.

    From reading the thread, it sounds like you have some poor form, but let me follow up with:
    How often are you working your scapular stabilizing/shoulder girdle muscles?

    If you don't know what I'm talking about then you're most likely not, and this leads to various shoulder problems. Basically, abnormalities in the rhythm of movement between the shoulder blade and ball and socket joint.

    Often times it does undiagnosed unless you see an orthopedist or physical therapist. But a weak shoulder girdle/scap-stabilizing muscles can result in impingement, rotator cuff tendinosis and shoulder instability.

    This leads into my next question:
    How often are you training your back muscles? (Technically the muscles over your scap are shoulder muscles so I won't discuss those yet)

    Are you hitting your rhomboid major and minor, and lats at least 1:1 ratio with your chest and delt lifts? If you're not then muscular imbalance could also be causing your shoulder issues.

    Since you're not in front of me and don't cheat do this:
    Stand sideways to a mirror so you get a "profile view" of your body. Now look at your shoulder, does it point forward or is it pulled back? If it's pointed forwards, then you have a muscular imbalance (but it doesn't mean it's not also a movement problem), if it's pulled back then the root of your shoulder pain probably has to do with movement.

    If it's muscular imbalance, I would suggest working your back muscles at a 2:1 ratio to your chest and delts for a couple of weeks, then do the check again. Make sure you're not cheating and pulling your shoulders back, it should naturally happen.

    If it's movement/stability, you need to work your trap, primarily lower trap (if you want to know how good a trainer is, ask him how to target lower your lower trap, 70% will give you a line of crap or say "huh") and your serratus anterior, in addition to your rhomboid major/minor, lats and rotator cuff. And equally important (actually important for all muscles) is flexibility. You'll want to incorporate in these stretches:
    -Cross body adduction: below neck level, at neck level, above neck level
    -Sleeper stretch
    -Roll-over sleeper stretch
    -Internal rotation in abduction doorway stretch
    -Towel roll and corner stretch for pectoralis minor
    -Core body flexibility

    Also if ever in doubt, go see a medical professional.
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