As a dude that lifts with a permanently separated shoulder that also had shoulder problems for years, I can tell you a few things that I have done, or do, to keep them at bay and/or some of the changes I have made in training certain movements.
For bench - Close grip only. Yes, you can bench more with a wider grip, but you can also get a look at a t-bone by sticking your head up a butchers ass......wait, wait. Anyway, If you plan on lifting for a long time and want to save your shoulders, bring your grip in. My grip is 15" between the index fingers. This usually puts me right on the outside of the inner smooth of the bar. You don't have to go this close, but bringing your grip in will take a lot of strain off the shoulders and rotator cuffs.
For incline - As John Meadows just posted recently, when you do inclines and lower all the way down, it places much more strain on the cuff. Many years ago, I read about Flex Wheeler and Chris Cormier doing inclines where they lower to right below the chin. Seeing how inclines always made my shoulders feel like shit, I tried this out and to my surprise, I had no pain with it. I've stuck with it ever since. Of course, keyboard warriors will tell you "you didn't touch your chest" but I've never seen an incline press done at a powerlifting meet. And I also don't think that inch difference is going to make that big of a difference in how much you can press. If anything, I always found it harder, but easier on the shoulders. So a win/win. Also, incline tends to give good carryover to both your overhead work, AND the bench. My grip on incline is not narrow, but it's definitely not wide either.
Press behind the neck - The behind the neck press has gotten a bad rap for YEARS. Why? Because of people who lack the shoulder flexibility to do it. Think about that for a minute. Does that make the movement dangerous, or just dangerous if you try to overload on it, while you aren't flexible enough to do it?
Most people, when they start lifting, aren't flexible enough to squat properly either. However, we're not in the business of telling people not to squat deep because they lack the flexibility to do it are we? No, because we're not certified personal trainers. We're lifters. If we suck at something, we work to get better at it, rather than feeding a handicap.
I remember years ago when I was doing DC style training, Dante had guys with shitty shoulders doing shoulder "dislocates" with a broom or band. They RAVED about how great their shoulders felt after getting good enough to do them. I was able to do them right out of the gate, and it never made my shoulders feel better. You know why? Because I was still doing press behind the neck. Shoulder dislocates don't look a whole lot different than press behind the necks really. And all the guys from the 70's and 80's loved them some PBN and I don't remember any of them having their shoulders explode out of socket like something out of a Die Hard scene. The difference with the press behind the neck as opposed to benching, is that you need to get your grip WIDE. Not close.
You don't have to go snatch grip wide, however the wrists will need to be well outside of the elbows, not in line with them.
It goes without saying that you need to do cuff work. You should throw in some easy cuff work before any pressing, and after as well if your shit is really bad.
Let me also add, that I think pressing twice a week is enough. Most guys can eventually gain strength just fine on once a week. The whole premise that you need to press 3+ times a week seems like a sure fire route to shoulder problems, and the majority of really strong pressers I know, don't train the press more than twice a week AT MOST. And plenty of them train it once a week.
I hope this helps some guys out, and may you use it in your pressing programming to get better.
Newbie here. I've had shoulder issues for a while. I hurt my shoulder doing push-ups (push-ups!!!) about a year ago and couldn't wipe my ass without pain. Took three months for it to get better.ReplyDelete
I started benching using your description from Strength-Life-Legacy using a close grip. About an inch in on the inner knurls, so I'm just off the smooth. I also concentrate on pointing my elbows down to my hips rather then flairing straight out. Not a single ping, pop or pain in the shoulders. Where were you when I was in college? Would have saved me unnecessary hardship.
Better late than never!Delete
Totally agree on all the points but one. I got an ac-joint seperation in my left shoulder from years of doing judo and benching close grip hurts, wider (pinky on ring) not. But generally close = less problems, agree on that.ReplyDelete
I go close on inclines and overhead and its much easier for my shoulders. I owe my overhead technique to coach rip and always felt that the closer grip not only is easier on the shoulders but allows me to blow all the force straight into the bar = better performance
Funny thing with the shoulder dislocation, gave me zero because my flexibility was already good. PBN great exercise for those that can do it CORRECTLY.
Keep up your great work, I never miss a post.
Same here. My shoulders feel funny when doing flat close grip benching, but it's fine for wide grip flat benching. I also do incline and overhead presses with close grip.Delete
This might be a stupid question but ... when you say "pressing twice a week is enough" are you talking about bench and incline, or are you including all overhead work and bench work (e.g. bench press, incline press, PBTN, Klokov press, military press, etc)?ReplyDelete
Maybe I'm just retarded... but if you don't mind clarifying, I'd appreciate it!
Pressing twice a week period. So day 1 would be close grips, and day 2 overhead stuff. that's plenty enough pressing in a week. And as I noted, I know tons of great pressers who bench once a week and do their shoulder work after. I also know some shitty pressers who press all the time.Delete
Thanks for the clarification Paul.Delete
I have absolutely no interest in the bench press (I don't even do it) but love to overhead press. Just like there is danger in excessive imbalances when one bench presses and does not pull or overhead press, would there be any danger in only overhead pressing without bench pressing? (I deadlift both snatch-grip and conventional regularly so any balance due to lack of pulling wouldn't be a problem.)
Thanks for your time and I enjoyed your interview on IronRadio recently!
Loving to overhead press is so foreign to me because I am so lukewarm to it.Delete
I can't imagine there would be any imbalances unless you forget to do rear delt work and a lot of upperback work. It just sounds awful to me. But everyone should be happy in training.
Speaking of rear delt work Paul, any suggestions there? I've only recently started doing any kind of assistance work and am freakin' clueless with anything that's not a big lift.ReplyDelete
Face pulls, bent laterals, the rear delt tit machine (usually the pec deck but you face the other way).Delete
Awesome, thanks Paul. I can start working into them tomorrow.Delete
Great article, Paul!ReplyDelete
Maybe you could help me out with my recent shoulder injury. I woke up one day to some pain in the front part of my shoulder, number 2 on here: http://www.die-orthopaeden.info/img/leistung/schultergelenk.gif
I've been to the doctor twice and first he told me it was my back, which he fixes. The second time I got a shot of cortisone, but this didn't stop the pain.
Prior to the injury I've been doing overhead work/pressing 4 times a week including shoulder dislocations but never had problems with my shoulders before. Any idea what this might be? My coach guessed it might be the rotator cuff.
You've been overhead pressing four times a week and now your shoulder hurts? No way.Delete
1. Stop being stupid by doing such retarded nonsense.
2. Take some time off to allow it to heal.
3. Do the 100 rep front raises for a few weeks.
4. Do cuff work while you are resting up.
5. I have no idea why people keep reading and believing that doing more is always the answer.
I haven't been overhead pressing 4 times a week, but general overhead work, because I'm training the oly lifts, so I always put weight over my head.ReplyDelete
I'll do the front raise thing and I'm already letting it heal by not doing any pressing movements. What do you recommend for cuff work?
Lots of external rotation.Delete
Thanks a lot for answering the questions, even when they might be stupid!Delete
They aren't stupid, I just think that guys get a bit overzealous in their training at times, and forget that they only need to do enough work to progress. You can't force feed results.ReplyDelete
What are your thoughts on incline DB press to sub for incline with a bar? Would you still recommend stopping a few inches short of the chest for someone like me who has shoulder issues, or is this an entirely different movement for the shoulders?ReplyDelete
With db's I find that I can go to a full ROM because I can moe the db's independently through space. So it feels quite different than the barbell.Delete
Do you think thst their success with moderate or "low" pressing frequency is related to steroid use? I have long arms, am strong with a close grip, have a weak overhead and a bench around 300 lbs. at 203 lbs. bodyweight and am trying to figure out what I should do.ReplyDelete