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Shoulder Pain During and After Benchpresses

Written by Mr. WellCultured, Monday, December 19th, 2011 in Q&As

I’ve been getting a ton of pain in my shoulders when I bench press. What the hell is going on?

You’re probably putting too much emphasis on your shoulders or, perhaps worse, have your elbows in the wrong place.

First off, if you’re doing an incline bench press of any kind, your delts are going to be heavily involved and thus your shoulders will naturally feel the burn.  With that being said, a flat bench might help alleviate these issues.  Decline benches might also be useful, though I tend to frown on such nonsense because I prefer weighted dips to decline bench presses.

Perhaps more likely and more worryingly, your elbows may be in the wrong place during the bench.  Do not spread your elbows out to create a straight line from elbow to elbow.  Doing so puts a ton of pressure on your rotator cuffs, puts the bar over your neck pretty much 24/7 (a major safety hazard), and does nothing to make your bench press better.  Instead, as you can see from this ExRX description/gif, your elbows should be at something like 45 degrees.  Doing so will keep the bar where it belongs.

Incidentally, if you do this right, this should make subsequent lifts (weighted dips, dumbbell bench presses, etc) less painful.

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