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Tag Archives: bench press

  • Commanding Muscles to do their Part in the Bench Press

    Long believed to be the case for bodybuilders, researchers test the theory that a verbal reminder can cause a muscle to contract stronger.
  • Bench Press Shoulder Pain & How to Avoid Shoulder Injury

    Bench press shoulder pain is a common occurrence. Let's discuss why shoulder pain on the bench press is so common and how to alleviate and prevent your discomfort by implementing a safe and effective approach to overcoming shoulder injury.

    So, why is shoulder pain on the bench press so common? A few primary reasons:

    1. Many people lift far too much weight than they are capable of on this exercise
    2. Technique is not always optimal on the flat bench press (often to lift more weight)
    3. A muscular imbalance
    4. The shoulder is an extremely unstable joint

    Let's briefly discuss each of these.

    1. Too much weight on the bench press can lead to shoulder injury

    Especially within male social circles, the bench press is a common way of measuring one's success in the gym. Whilst this is not true for all trainers, it is undeniably common. It is also common to incorrectly assume that more weight necessarily means better results. So naturally, it is tempting for many people to increase the total mass being lifted to an unsafe level.

    Too much weight being lifted on the bench press can therefore place the shoulders under undue stress. The actual muscles and connective tissues supporting the shoulder joint may not be equipped to handle this load and thus result in injury.

    2. Poor technique can lead to shoulder pain on the bench press

    It is common to sacrifice safe correct bench press execution to lift more weight. This practice significantly increases the risk of injury to the shoulder joint. Some common examples include:

    • Not keeping the bar horizontal
    • Speeding up repetitions unnecessarily
    • Twisting your body as you are pushing
    • Pushing the bar forward or backward instead of vertically

    3. A muscular imbalance can lead to shoulder pain on the bench press

    If you have a dominant side, then this side will have a tendency to take more load than your less dominant side. In a barbell based exercise, this can spell disaster, as your weaker side can be placed under excessive stress that it is not strong enough to handle. This can commonly lead to an injury in your less dominant side's shoulder.

    4. The instability of your shoulder joint can lead to shoulder injury

    The shoulder is an extremely unstable ball and socket joint. In fact, it has been likened to a ball balancing on a seals nose. The muscles and connective tissues hold this joint in place, but do so in a rather ineffective manner relative to other joints.

    Even if your exercise technique is textbook, you aren't lifting excess weight and you don't have a major imbalance between your right and left sides, you can still sustain a shoulder injury from the bench press exercise.

    I have shoulder pain on the bench press...what do I do?

    So, assuming that you experience shoulder pain on the bench press, what do you do about it?

    First and foremost, do not continue performing the bench press! If your shoulder hurts, quite possibly one of the worst things you can do is aggravate this injury more by continuing to exercise it in this manner.

    This reigns true for any exercise that hurts your shoulder - not only the bench press.

    Secondly, see a physiotherapist for a diagnosis and a rehabilitation plan. Unless you are properly qualified, do not self-diagnose the issue and attempt to fix your shoulder injury yourself. This could make matters worse and leave you with a long-term, chronic and acute shoulder injury, preventing you from an array of movements; not just a bench press.

    A professional personal trainer can also assist you in implementing a safe and effective rehabilitation approach to your shoulder injury.

    Preventing a bench press shoulder injury

    The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that are highly prone to injury and are responsible for the stability of the shoulder joint. These muscles include:

    • Subscapularis
    • Infraspinatus
    • Teres Minor
    • Supraspinatus

    The infraspinatus is the most commonly injured rotator cuff muscle on the bench press exercise.

    There are two distinct movements to assist in strengthening the infraspinatus:

    1. Rowing motions
    2. External rotation

    So, be sure to:

    1. Not skip your back exercises!
    2. Perform regular external rotation exercises as part of your weight lifting regime

    Don't risk a shoulder injury

    Whilst it may seem unnecessary to perform external rotations, because you won't see any physical benefits, can you really risk hurting your shoulder? Think about how many major muscle groups could be affected:

    • Biceps
    • Triceps
    • Back
    • Traps
    • Chest

    All of these major muscle groups connect to the shoulder joint and can be affected by a severe shoulder injury. Furthermore, lower body exercises can also be greatly affected, particularly if you are required to hold onto a weight (such as a barbell squat, a lunge or a deadlift).

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