Build muscle and fix your joints at the same time…
The bench press is one of the best chest builders and biggest sources of shoulder pain. In fact, bench press pain can prevent many people from doing the exercise and can make it hard to do all other upper body exercises if the pain gets bad enough. In this video, I show you a quick drill you can do before your bench press that will help to dramatically decrease your shoulder pain.
The first thing you have to do is take a band and drape it over a pullup bar while setting up a bench beneath it. Take your hands and turn your pinkies inward while your thumbs are pointing outward. This will externally rotate your shoulders and help to engage the scapular stabilizers that are needed to safely perform the bench press.
Complete 20 reps from this position and make sure to squeeze your shoulder blades down and back throughout each one. Don’t speed through these repetitions as it is important that you perform them properly.
This movement will help you to keep your shoulders in the right position to maximize the space in your shoulder joint. If you suffer from impingement, you will likely feel pinching in either the supraspinatus tendon or the biceps tendon while you do the bench press or any other overhead pressing exercise for that matter. The joint space needs to be increased in order to allow for the tendons and structures to have more room to operate.
To make sure this happens, you want to nueromuscularly turn on the muscles that are likely very dormant in most people watching this. Finish your underhanded 20 reps and move immediately into your overhand reps. Each row is done with the intent of keeping those shoulder blades pulled back and down. This should be done from your normal bench press grip width. I personally like to bench from a slightly narrower position to help include the horizontal adduction needed to maximally activate the pecs.
As soon as you are done with the forty reps, go grab your dumbbells and perform your regular bench press. Doesn’t matter if you are doing incline bench or flat bench press. If you had shoulder pain before doing this, much if not all of it should be temporarily removed. This will allow you to bench and get the benefits of it without the pain.
For a more long term fix, you’ll have to include some dedicated rotator cuff work and scapular stabilizer work into your workouts. The ATHLEAN-X Training System found at is one of the easiest ways to do this. With the entire program created by a professional sports physical therapist, you have access to the top level training tips and strategies that will get you pro caliber results in record time.
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