Top Tips to Eliminate Shoulder Pain When Benching

Top Tips to Eliminate Shoulder Pain When Benching

Written by the Beast Gear team


One of the most effective ways to develop and strengthen your upper body in the gym is through bench pressing. This exercise primarily targets the chest and triceps. However, despite its numerous advantages, most weight lifters avoid or dislike bench press due to shoulder pains experienced during the exercise or after the movement.

Various factors might cause your shoulder pain when benching. Maybe you're not using the right gym equipment, or you're doing it wrong. Regardless of the factors causing your pain, it would help to employ relevant measures to ease your shoulder pain. Read on to learn more about bench pressing and effective ways of eliminating shoulder pain associated with it.

This article will cover:

  • Why are bench presses important?
  • Why does your shoulder pain when bench pressing?
  • How do you assess your shoulder pain when bench pressing?
  • How to eliminate shoulder pain when bench pressing?

Why are Bench Presses Important?

Before we detail your shoulder pain when bench pressing, it's essential to learn why you need bench presses. Here are a few advantages of bench presses that you should know about.

  • Increases your upper body push strength. This is an obvious advantage of bench presses. The more weight you can handle with the bench presses, the more you can carry, push or pull. A good rule of thumb is maintaining your shoulder presses between 59-67% of your bench presses based on your age.
  • Suitable for predicting your upper-body strength. Although bench presses are not a foolproof method to predict your upper body strength, you can use them to determine your upper body strength. For instance, you can use a 1-RM bench to determine the upper body lift numbers.
  • Improve your triceps. You probably think that bench presses are suitable for your chest, but they can also be a great exercise to activate your triceps. Triceps muscles are the muscles at the back of your arm. It's tough to get rid of the wiggly fat hidden in the back. Thankfully, by doing bench presses, you can burn these fats too.

Why Does Your Shoulder Pain when Bench Pressing?

The primary reason most fitness enthusiasts hate bench press exercises is experiencing shoulder pain. This pain is best explained by a sharp pain at the frontal side of the shoulder. Here are the major causes of your shoulder pain when benching.

Carrying too Much Volume

If you bench press an inappropriate weight, you might tear your pectoral muscles or strain your shoulder muscles. Ideally, an excellent bench press should consider gradually increasing your weight, a process known as progressive overload.

Failing to build your strength slowly or overtraining can lead to shoulder pain and other symptoms like irritability, fatigue, and reduced exercise motivation. 

Improper Recovery

The strength and volume of muscles grow due to severe contractions of the muscle fibers, not through the amount of weights that a person lifts. Since muscles need 24 to 48 hours to recover appropriately, performing bench presses without rest can cause shoulder pains.

Failing to Retract Your Shoulder Blades During the Press

The most common bench press mistake that many people make is having improper retracting during their exercise. The best way to do this is by ensuring that your shoulder blades are pinched together. This technique will enable you to properly track the head of your humerus and activate your chest by involving the front dents.

When you don't retract your shoulder blades, your upper arm moves forward, irritating the rotator cuff tissues and causing shoulder pain.

Flat-Back Benching

You can also experience shoulder pain when benching if you bench with a flat back. You don't have to exaggerate your lifting like powerlifters, but you should ensure that there's an arch present in your upper back. Creating a slight arch on your back will ensure that you don't dangerously put your back in a rotated position during the press.

Using a Wrong Touch Position

This is another common mistake that gym enthusiasts make when bench pressing. A wrong touch occurs when a person excessively flares the elbow at a 90-degree angle while pressing.

According to a Research Gate publication, shoulder pains can result from touching the bar too high on your chest, flaring the elbow out, and increasing the compressive forces at the clavicles and the net force placed on the shoulders.

How Can You Eliminate Shoulder Pains when Bench Pressing?

Suppose you're experiencing shoulder pains when bench pressing; you need to adopt measures that would help you reduce this pain. Here are five crucial tips that can help you.

Adjust Your Grip Width

Adjusting your grip width can be a suitable way to deal with your shoulder pains. This helps shift weight from sensitive structures, making it comfortable to do your bench press. The best way to adjust your grip width is by starting with a narrow grip and widening it as you determine which works best for your body type.

Please don't change your grip drastically. Start by moving your hands at half an inch as you assess how comfortable you're with the press.

Retract Your Shoulder Blades

As indicated above, failure to retract your shoulder blades can cause significant shoulder pain when bench pressing. In this case, keeping your shoulder blades locked during retraction is the safest way to conduct your bench presses and increase your performance.

Consider Low Incline Bench Presses

Unless you're a powerlifter, a low incline bench press can reduce your shoulder pain when bench pressing. Creating a slight angle with your back allows your chest to carry a higher load, sparing the shoulder joints. Apart from sparing your shoulder from the force of your lifts, this can help you avoid feeling the bench press on your chest.

Maximize your Overhead Pressing Loads

Often, shoulder pains result from too much bench pressing. Although this is the most appropriate way to perform your lifts, it needs to be appropriately balanced with other exercises like overhead pressing. Subsequent overhead pressing work can also be suitable for maintaining a balance in the shoulder joints and reducing sharp shoulder pain when bench pressing.

Perform A Proper Warm-Up Before Benching

Undertaking a proper warm-up is crucial in preventing shoulder pain when unracking the bench. Some of the common exercises that you can use include scapular retraction, external rotations, and push-ups.

Eliminate Your Shoulder Pain when Bench Pressing Like a Pro

Wrist wraps laying on the bench press barbell

Undoubtedly, bench pressing is one of the most potent exercises at your disposal, although shoulder pain can be a significant setback. You can ease your shoulder pain by following the tips provided above. Apart from that, having the right gym tools at your disposal can significantly help you do away with your shoulder pains. Beast Gear is your perfect partner when it comes to offering a variety of gym products best suited for your exercise. Check out our products and grab yourself the best equipment for your exercises today!.

Watch this short video learn more about Beast Gear's advanced heavy duty wrist wraps and how they support your wrists, reduce risk of injury, and encourage recovery! 

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