Despite the everlasting love for this exercise and devoting every Monday as the National Bench Press day, you are still in dismay. The cause of your sorrow is, gasp, bench press hurts you. You worked hard and heavy on this exercise, and it finally started to progress. But just when the fruits of your labor were about to spring, bench press injured you.
It’s not that you’re like other clueless lifters who lift heedlessly in the gym. You take your time to warm-up on the treadmill. Stretch your pecs and perform some drills before lifting. Foam roll to limber up your muscles. Pyramid up the weights so as to approach the intensity gradually. But still, you’re in pain.
What gives? Is bench press just unfaithful a la sonam gupta?
Don’t lose heart, we had some good news for you. Your long term relationship with the bench press can be improved, brushing off the chances of the break-up with it. We’ll provide you some tips which will hopefully restore your faith and get you your lost love.
What Causes Pain
Pain may be caused by dysfunction or it could be the resultant of uneven forces acting on the joints. Plenty of things can go wrong when you try to up the intensity without optimizing the movement itself first. So let’s turn over to some of the main causes which induce bench press discomfort along with some handy tips to handle it.
You’re not exactly sure of the bench press technique and form.
If it’s you then we’ll suggest investing some time in learning the proper form first. The bench press is not the source of trouble but rather the way you’re performing it. Learning correct form and unlearning incorrect form may take some time but it’ll pay huge dividends in long run. We’ll suggest you get under the eyes of a qualified coach to learn it best.
You suck at programming.
Programming big lifts could be tedious and confusing if you lack the experience and knowledge. While you can use cookie cutter internet programs but they’ll be useless beyond a certain point. These programs are generalized and don’t attend to the individual requirements. So again help from a good coach is quite handy.
You perform too much of the machine and isolation work.
If you depend too much on machines for isolation work or assistance exercises, you lose the synergism of the muscle complex involved in lifting. The reason being the machines isolate the target muscle with a set path and line of force which takes the stabilizing muscles out of action. If the stabilizers involved in a lift are not coordinated enough to work in synergy with prime movers, it increases the risk of injury exponentially.
Your shoulders are dysfunctional.
Tight shoulders can wreck havoc on bench performance. Conversely, depending solely upon horizontal pressing for pushing strength can make shoulders dysfunctional. Take note that shoulder pain can originate either from subacromial impingement, tight and inflamed shoulder capsule or biceps tendinitis. A skilled practitioner can help you out here.
You are not cut for the bench press.
Everybody doesn’t have the same bone shape and structure. They look similar but are not same. For example, the acromion (a portion of the shoulder blade) in shoulder girdle is classified into 3 types based on shape difference.
- Type I Acromion: Specified as flatter in shape with normal subacromial space.
- Type II Acromion: Curved with a little less subacromial space.
- Type III Acromion: Markedly curved with very little subacromial space.
People with Type III acromions are at very high risk of shoulder impingement due to a particular shape of their scapula. Besides, your body can acquire a particularly risky morphology over time owing to reckless training and poor movement patterns. Barbell pressing may not suit to such people in general and may cause more problems down the road.
Read more here on how to manage common shoulder pains and maladies.