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Shoulder discomfort from bench press


mdv6

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I've been doing doing SL 5x5 for about 4 months now, and increasingly I've been experiencing shoulder discomfort (top front of the shoulder), which I think is due to bench presses (I'm currently benching 145 lbs 3x5, having progressed starting with just the bar). I'd say I have a dull ache (and not all the time) rather than "pain."

 

My question is, what is the best exercise to substitute for the bench press (I was doing bench press along with squats and weighted pullups for one workout, then squats, OH press, and deadlifts for the alternate workout)? Are push ups safer for shoulders than bench press, and if so, how much volume would i need to approximate the workout from my bench press?

 

Also, assuming bench press is the cause of the discomfort, is this likely due to bad form, or just the need for more rest and/or shoulder rehab exercises? Is there a shoulder rehab/prehab program that I can do to get me (safely) back on the bench press?

 

Thanks!  

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Definitely consider a form check.

 

When you lie down on the bench, are your arms perpendicular to your torso?

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Definitely consider a form check.

 

When you lie down on the bench, are your arms perpendicular to your torso?

I wish I had gotten a video last night, since I don't really want to do bench again for a couple weeks at least. I try to keep my elbows close to my sides when I bench. But, it's been a while since I've reviewed good form for a bench press, so there could be a lot of room for improvement. 

 

I'll take a bit of time off and then do a form check and see how it feels. Any suggestions on the best way to rehab (or should I just rest), and are there any good alternative chest exercises to do in the meantime?

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Is there a reason why you're skipping the prescribed rows? It's probably not the current issue, but most people get shoulder and posture issues long-term from not doing enough pulling. I'm not sure pullups alone can substitute rows. Maybe consieder doing both?

^^^^This

 

I had some shoulder issues on the incline bench due to not having done enough rows or other upper back exercises. Your chest will get tight and pull your shoulders forward. Even a small amount caused my left shoulder to "Pop" while lifting. I didn't do any chest exercises for a week while I focused on my back and rear delts to correct this issue. Don't forget to stretch afterwards!! Stretching helps so much. 

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There is a wide range of shoulder accessory exercises who should/can be performed (IMO).  One of the strengths of 5x5 and Starting Strength (their simplicity) is also their weakness.  My (unscientific) 'feel' is that over the past 4 years here on NF, most of us who have gotten serious about using the above programs and stuck with it, have run into shoulder pain/injury issues by the end of the 2nd year.  

 

Depending on where you are starting from strength wise, sooner or later you (IMO) have to add some accessory work for your shoulder mobility.  Band pull aparts, windmills, shoulder shockers, rotations, rows, etc.  Almost any motion that uses small weights to build up, strengthen and keep mobile all the little stabilizers in your shoulder joints.  

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I've been in and out of gyms for years, but I was always a "bro" lifter - usual lifting guides, usual focus areas.  Neglected my back and legs and it showed when I started doing Strong Lifts - notably in the barbell back squat.

 

Strong Lifts is great, but it glosses over beginner's issues like shoulder mobility, or hip/knee/ankle flexibility.  

 

The barbell is great, but none of the exercises are as simple as they seem right out of the gate.

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There is a wide range of shoulder accessory exercises who should/can be performed (IMO).  One of the strengths of 5x5 and Starting Strength (their simplicity) is also their weakness.  My (unscientific) 'feel' is that over the past 4 years here on NF, most of us who have gotten serious about using the above programs and stuck with it, have run into shoulder pain/injury issues by the end of the 2nd year.

 

Depending on where you are starting from strength wise, sooner or later you (IMO) have to add some accessory work for your shoulder mobility.  Band pull aparts, windmills, shoulder shockers, rotations, rows, etc.  Almost any motion that uses small weights to build up, strengthen and keep mobile all the little stabilizers in your shoulder joints.  

 

No idea what is "unscientific" about your feel.  It is interesting that I was plagued with exactly the issue you describe at nearly exactly the time you say it will happen.

 

Right now, I would say I am recovering from the issue, but I have to be very careful.  I have to make sure the shoulder is warmed up and I have to bend the bar like crazy when I go through the motion.

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The location of the pain sounds like shoulder impingment, caused by flaring too much on your bench. Form check would allow us to verify this. The solution going forward is to improve your form. The rehab tends to be lots of lighter weight sets with good form, perhaps dropping your working sets by half and substituting the lighter sets for awhile.

 

Going forward, balancing the muscularture around the shoulder with lots of pulling is a great idea and really where the 5x5s don't place enough emphasis. They only mention pull ups/chin ups in passing. Any time I recommend these programs now, I tell people to add chin up or pull up progressions onto the end of every workout as they really do lack the vertical pulling movements, which are important for balanced musculature. Not only does that balanced musculature help prevent these shoulder issues, they also make you look really good as we're talking about the lats and biceps as the main movers for those movements.

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