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  1. #1
    Registered User EmperorRyker's Avatar
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    Dumbbell bench press and shoulder press - to parallel or lower?

    I had a question in regards to both the dumbbell bench press and the dumbbell shoulder press. Namely, when you lower the weights, should your upper arm be parallel to the ground (i.e. the body and the upper arm make a right angle) or should you go lower?
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    Registered User alex493's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by EmperorRyker View Post
    I had a question in regards to both the dumbbell bench press and the dumbbell shoulder press. Namely, when you lower the weights, should your upper arm be parallel to the ground (i.e. the body and the upper arm make a right angle) or should you go lower?
    I usually go lower when using lighter weights as there is a lower risk of injury. The only reason for a 90 degree angle, in regards to heavy weights, is to prevent injury
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    Registered User Rasputin4's Avatar
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    I prefer full ROM. WIth BB bench, it would hurt my shoulders to touch my chest, but ever since I switched to DB, there's no reason not to. As for overhead press, I'm not sure what the risk of injury would be, unless you're trying to lift too much weight.
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    Strength & Bodybuilding aneksteind's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by alex493 View Post
    I usually go lower when using lighter weights as there is a lower risk of injury. The only reason for a 90 degree angle, in regards to heavy weights, is to prevent injury
    This is the smartest decision. Do not risk it with heavy weights. This is more so with the db press than the shoulder press. If the weight becomes too much, you could tear your pectoralis major.
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    You can't drown in sweat JesuitGrind's Avatar
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    i go a little lower than parallel on db press, but on shoulder press i get discomfort
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    Registered User EmperorRyker's Avatar
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    But is not going lower than parallel also not full range of motion then? Because sometimes I hear if you go too deep it's actually other muscles doing the work during that part of the lift. So is it better to go with a weight that you can lift to parallel or with a lighter one with which you can go deeper?
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    Wow, brutal, but expected replies to this thread so far..

    "Go full ROM when its light but half when its heavy so you dont injury yourself" ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Since when did a full ROM hurt anyone, if it hurt you, it's because you were doing the entire thing wrong.

    OP, for optimal development and recruitment of the shoulders focus on a full ROM. The top portion of any pressing movement is where the triceps really kick in and help out the shoulders/chest. If you wanna drill your shoulders, you'd do deep, unless the top portion is your weak point and you need to focus on it with half reps for a couple months to bring it up to par with the lower portion.

    To give an example, the dumbbell touches my shoulder on each rep. I dropped my ego 2 years ago and lowered the weight from 90 to 70, just to be able to do the exercise properly.
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  8. #8
    Registered User EmperorRyker's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by zildjian_4 View Post
    Wow, brutal, but expected replies to this thread so far..

    "Go full ROM when its light but half when its heavy so you dont injury yourself" ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Since when did a full ROM hurt anyone, if it hurt you, it's because you were doing the entire thing wrong.

    OP, for optimal development and recruitment of the shoulders focus on a full ROM. The top portion of any pressing movement is where the triceps really kick in and help out the shoulders/chest. If you wanna drill your shoulders, you'd do deep, unless the top portion is your weak point and you need to focus on it with half reps for a couple months to bring it up to par with the lower portion.

    To give an example, the dumbbell touches my shoulder on each rep. I dropped my ego 2 years ago and lowered the weight from 90 to 70, just to be able to do the exercise properly.
    So in the shoulder press example, it is the deltoid muscles doing the work on the lower part, and not the biceps/triceps?
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    The poster above me represents what a lot of people think but is not entirely true. I do agree with him that it's best to do full rom if possible. I disagree with him when he says if you get injured its because you were doing it wrong. Yes, doing things with improper form is a good way to get injured but even if you are doing heavy lifts with perfect form you are still putting a lot of stress on your joints, tendons and ligaments and absolutely can still get hurt.

    If possible, do full ROM but if going deep causes discomfort or pain then be cautious with how far you go because its better to limit your rom then be injured and not able to work out at all.
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  10. #10
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    Originally Posted by EmperorRyker View Post
    So in the shoulder press example, it is the deltoid muscles doing the work on the lower part, and not the biceps/triceps?
    Well, the shoulders and trcieps work together the entire movement. The shoulders take the brunt of the load in the lower position, and as the upper arm passes parallel and gets closer to the top, the tricep is in a more advantageous position and helps lock it out over head. So, bottom, majority shoulder, top, half and half I'd guess.
    Originally Posted by 32bulkcycle View Post
    The poster above me represents what a lot of people think but is not entirely true. I do agree with him that it's best to do full rom if possible. I disagree with him when he says if you get injured its because you were doing it wrong. Yes, doing things with improper form is a good way to get injured but even if you are doing heavy lifts with perfect form you are still putting a lot of stress on your joints, tendons and ligaments and absolutely can still get hurt.

    If possible, do full ROM but if going deep causes discomfort or pain then be cautious with how far you go because its better to limit your rom then be injured and not able to work out at all.
    Yes, if you have a medical condition, do not do anything that hurts, obviously. If doing a heavy weight hurts, then you shouldn't be doing it at all. You should fix your condition so you can do it safely. I made my post on the assumption that the audience didn't have some genetic shoulder issues or something like that. If you get injured, it's because your flexibility/form/posture/etc etc etc was off.. A full RoM shoulder press shouldn't hurt a healthy body. Sorry, I was distracted during that entire post, horrible wording..
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    Full rom on db bench press hurts my shoulders. i think i may lack flexibility in my shoulders...

    i feel it even on warmup sets.

    if you can go full rom without hurting then do it. the deeper you go, the more chest involvement you get.
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    Originally Posted by 4everalone View Post
    Full rom on db bench press hurts my shoulders. i think i may lack flexibility in my shoulders...

    i feel it even on warmup sets.

    if you can go full rom without hurting then do it. the deeper you go, the more chest involvement you get.
    If you have to limit your ROM due to pain, something is wrong... this isnt normal.

    you should be able to do the full exercise without injuring yourself if its done properly.

    Do as much weight as you can with perfect form and full rom... if you find yourself adding more weight but your ROM is sacrificed - you're going too heavy.
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    On heavy sets (5 reps or lower) I rarely go below parallel. Anything higher than that, i.e. for optimal hypertrophy, I do pretty slow, full ROM reps.
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    So just to see if I get this correctly. For shoulder development, it's better if - assuming the number of reps stays the same - I drop from my usual 30 lbs done to parallel to, hopefully, 25 lbs done to lower than parallel?
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    Originally Posted by EmperorRyker View Post
    So just to see if I get this correctly. For shoulder development, it's better if - assuming the number of reps stays the same - I drop from my usual 30 lbs done to parallel to, hopefully, 25 lbs done to lower than parallel?
    Exactly, you won'r regret it.
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    For DB bench, I usually allow the DB to touch the chest lightly. This is significantly farther than 90 degree, obviously.
    Bodybuilding is 60% training and 50% diet. Yes that adds up to 110%, because that's what you should be giving it. Change the inside, and the physique will follow.
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    Registered User EmperorRyker's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by zildjian_4 View Post
    Exactly, you won'r regret it.
    Originally Posted by autoanorak View Post
    On heavy sets (5 reps or lower) I rarely go below parallel. Anything higher than that, i.e. for optimal hypertrophy, I do pretty slow, full ROM reps.
    OK, so I haven't actually dropped the weight I'm using, but I have dropped the reps. I'm now going as low as BB.com's video suggests (http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercise...shoulder-press), i.e. dumbbells to ear height. But from what you guys are saying I gather that you go even lower, right? Should I drop the weight from 30 lbs to 25 lbs, so that I can perform the way you're suggesting? Or do you consider the movement in the video full ROM?
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    If you're trying to supplement your BB press, then go ahead and keep your ROM. Going lower will definitely give your shoulders a good workout, but make sure and keep your form good for the sake of your trap/deltoid region.
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    in my opinion it depends what gives you discomfort etc, for me i can only go to parallel on dumbell bench press as going below this hurts my shoulders

    whereas shoulder press, i can go below 90 degrees but it makes the exercise a lot harder, so you have to decrease the weight if you want to go this deep

    so in other words, if you can go below parallel on both of these exercises without any discomfort or pain, then do it and get full ROM, but you may have to lower the weight as it will make it harder
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    OP,

    Forget the weight of the dumbbells your using, dial in the form and then apply the weight accordingly and build from there. There is no harm in going too light for a training session or two if your dialing in the form and trying to do the exercise correctly. There is more potential for harm by going too heavy and doing the exercise incorrectly.

    Regarding going past 90degrees on the presses. Fantastic question. Really.

    I just read a thread the other day, with everyone blasting someone for not using full ROM on the DB press. He was going about 90 degrees.

    I hurt my shoulder months back, and was told to do floor presses to work chest and not shoulder, and that my DB press ROM should not go much below that 90 degrees (or 2" off the chest). That actually worked well for me, I was able to press and not irritate my shoulder. The actual exercise sucked balls.. but it worked.

    My recommendations, based on what has worked for me and what seems to be correct based on what I have found...
    1) DB bench press down to the same level as your BB press would go. Break 90 degrees.
    -- if you can go lower without injury/pain/discomfort, do so, you will find your engaging more shoulders as you go lower. Not a bad thing per say.
    2) Overhead press down to where the palms of your hand are about mid neck level, I think ear level is a bit short on the ROM.
    3) Lower your weight, reassess your form, apply weight accordingly, seriously.
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    Originally Posted by trev71 View Post
    I hurt my shoulder months back, and was told to do floor presses to work chest and not shoulder, and that my DB press ROM should not go much below that 90 degrees (or 2" off the chest). That actually worked well for me, I was able to press and not irritate my shoulder. The actual exercise sucked balls.. but it worked.

    My recommendations, based on what has worked for me and what seems to be correct based on what I have found...
    1) DB bench press down to the same level as your BB press would go. Break 90 degrees.
    -- if you can go lower without injury/pain/discomfort, do so, you will find your engaging more shoulders as you go lower. Not a bad thing per say.
    I think the "floor press" ROM is what I'm doing right now with DB presses, although I can't be quite sure as I've never taken a video of me doing it to see what my form looks like. I do notice that if I focus on lowering the weight slower than free fall and pausing at the lowest point, I can feel my chest being worked, but there are also days when it seems I'm just moving weights, but not feeling much of anything anywhere, other than perhaps a general fatigue. But what you're saying is that I need to go lower than that then?

    And then a follow-up question to this. If you and other people are saying I should go lower, should I perhaps switch to the BB chest press, since I can lower the bar so that it touches my chest there, and hence definitely hit the ROM needed? It might namely be mental, as it's hard to drop the weights at my measly lifting stats, but if I reset I might be able to get over that mental block easier. Are there any drawbacks to the BB chest press? I mean, from what I've read, DB chest press works more stabilizer issues, so I'd preferably stay with them, but if I can't do proper form, switching to the barbell might be good nonetheless. Any opinions on this?
    Originally Posted by trev71 View Post
    2) Overhead press down to where the palms of your hand are about mid neck level, I think ear level is a bit short on the ROM.
    OK, I see, I'll try whether I can do that with 30 lbs, and if I can't, I'll go with 25 lbs. So in a nutshell, full ROM with a lower weight is better than almost-full ROM with a greater weight, both for hypertrophy, strength and injury prevention?
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    i woulnt risk going down further than 90 degrees unless u can easily control the weight.
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    Originally Posted by luciobrazil007 View Post
    i woulnt risk going down further than 90 degrees unless u can easily control the weight.
    Why is that?
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    Originally Posted by EmperorRyker View Post
    Why is that?
    There is no reason for that.
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    I go until my elbows are at a 45 degree angle below my shoulder. 60 degrees below would be the full range of motion for your deltoids.
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    go as far down as you are comfortable with the weight you are using.
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    I touch my chest lightly on DB Bench, and on my DB Shoulder Press, I go somewhere between my ear and my neck.
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    For a barbell bench press I go until the bar touches my chest as is normal. You need to break 90 degrees to go down that far. Stopping at 90 will leave you with quite a distance between your chest and the bar. As for shoulder presses I do standing OHP's and bring the bar down to the top of my chest/clavicles. Some people get shoulder discomfort from going that far but I have good shoulder flexibility so I prefer a wider ROM. Stopping at 90 degrees with a shoulder press is even worse than with a bench press. You barely bring the bar down to your head. It's pretty much a tricep exercise if you do that.
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    Originally Posted by Icebrah View Post
    For a barbell bench press I go until the bar touches my chest as is normal. You need to break 90 degrees to go down that far. Stopping at 90 will leave you with quite a distance between your chest and the bar. As for shoulder presses I do standing OHP's and bring the bar down to the top of my chest/clavicles. Some people get shoulder discomfort from going that far but I have good shoulder flexibility so I prefer a wider ROM. Stopping at 90 degrees with a shoulder press is even worse than with a bench press. You barely bring the bar down to your head. It's pretty much a tricep exercise if you do that.
    Thanks, but I'm not actually using the barbell for any of the two mentioned exercises
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    Alright, so I dropped the weight to 25 lbs today and went mid-neck low on my DB shoulder press. I have a kind of an uneasy feeling, though, as I didn't get the pump or the fatigue I usually get (well, those things aren't great, but they are greater than today), and it also seemed to me that the bottommost part of the movement (i.e. the one where the dumbbell is between the shoulder and then to around the ears) is more than with the shoulders done with the outer part of the arm between the triceps on the back and biceps at the front. So now I'm really unsure whether to stick with this range of motion, or go back to that former one, where you go lower than parallel, but no actually so low as to touch the shoulders with the dumbbells.

    Any comments?
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