gaiNZ's picture
  • 5

+ 1 Can't bench anymore. Too much pain.


I've been training for about 5 years. I took a while off a few months ago and lost quite a lot of strength. I have been back at the gym for about 7 months and noticed that I simply can't bench press anymore.... It hurts my shoulders so damn much.

I can dumbell shoulder press 40kg dumbbells for 4x7 (so upper body strength is definitley coming back) but can only just manage 100kg bench for 5 reps. I could probably do a few more reps but both my shoulders hurt so fucking much and I'm afraid I'll break something. Before I stopped training I could do 120kg 5x5... And that was after squats.

Now I can only just manage 100kg for 1x5.... I used to get a little bit of pain in my right shoulder after benching but now it's unbearable in both shoulders. My form is good. Has anyone else had this issue? Its clear as day. No doubt about it. I simply can not bench anymore. Or I risk serious damage to my rotator cuffs. Please help.

Edit. Got my time off wrong. I have been back at the gym 7 months or so. Before that I had basically 3-4 months of no training whatsoever.

Janus's picture

I had a similar incident. Shoulder started out with a little bit of pain and slowly got worse. Took it easy and it wouldn't get any better. Finally went to Ortho and they did an MRI. Found out I had a partially torn bicep tendon. Had to go under the knife, and it was a long healing process. I suggest take it easy.. Pain is your body letting you know something isn't right.

Makwa's picture

TUT Time under tension is what the muscle recognizes, not weight. Slow down those reps and use a much lighter weight and watch yourself grow. It is actually going to be a more intense workout than just banging the weights up and down real quickly. Focus on a TUT of between 40-80 secs for maximum hypertrophy. I use a 4-0-1-0 temp. 4 sec eccentric, no pause at bottom, 1 sec concentric, no pause at top. 8 reps of that will put you at 40 secs. You will have to decrease your weights probably 40% or more but you will actually grow faster this way and your joints and tendons will thank you. If your shoulders still hurt decrease the weight even more and go up to 12 reps or more with that tempo or go with a 6-0-1-0 tempo. Eventually you will find a weight and tempo that doesn't hurt your shoulders but still allows you to grow.

This is where it all starts

press1's picture

Also remember bud that having a good shoulder press doesn't equate to having a good flat bench, neither does a strong incline bench. If you watch Larry Wheels latest meet prep videos when he was over in Dubai he was Inclining 500 for 8 all day long, but when he came home he could barely get it for a single on flat. To be good in any exercise you have to do that particular version in that specific plane, although he still had strong shoulders he had lost a tonne of strength in his chest and triceps.

333's picture

I haven't done bench since high-school gym class from the age of 6 to 19 I was a extremely good skateboarder I was even offered sponsorship at 13 from a huge skate company (this does not reveal anything about me) I have landed so many times fave forward off of shit 10 foot high at 20 mph and my shoulders always took the blunt of the hits. Sorry to say I am a low weight cable or Smith machine chest user and I am young

Rustyhooker's picture

My shoulders got sore doing flat bench press. I switched to dumbells at a medium weight and built up from there. It seemed like each hand being independent added size to the stabilizing muscles as well. Definutly felt better

gaiNZ's picture

This is what I think I will do, this and some light weight flys

Sam I Am's picture

We’ve all been there. Find some exercises that don’t irritate it.
I can also tell you as you get older and stronger your grip will get more narrow.
Training around injuries is just part of the game.
I’ll be honest, my chest got bigger when I quit obcessing over my bench...

Shred777's picture

Proper dumbbell chest flys and squeezing at the top will build up the pecs for sure.

"Your body doesn't know the absolute weight of what you lift, it only recognizes how heavy it feels. The secret is to make lighter weights feel heavier." - Frank Zane

Makwa's picture

Zane is genius Yes 3

Shred777's picture

Use resistance bands to do rotator cuff strengthen exercises.
Google image search "resistance bands rotator cuff exercises"

Saint gannett's picture

The good news is, a tiny tear can be the problem, that bad news is, a tiny tear can make life hell. It happens in an instant and there is really no going back. We chatted about this in a topic about cortisone shots, the general momentum against those, but for me it is a pinhole that the doctor has to really point out to me on an MRI to see, but it feels like hell. Blackjack115 well states the obvious that Deca is not a sustainable solution, but Nandrolone sure does help. Right now I am just into week two on a nice deca by Pharmaqo and already I have relief, but can't do that all the time.

First off, get an MRI, find out what real damage is there. Second, you may just have to lift less. I always wanted to bench 4-wheels on each side of the bar and just when I was getting close, I let someone talk me into going for it... it felt like a trash compactor was pressing the bar towards me. Weight didn't fall, but it sure did not stop coming at me. They guy pulled it off of me grinning and asked, 'how did that feel?' All I could answer was 'It felt like 405 fucking pounds sitting on my chest!' And my shoulder has hurt ever since.

I came close to it again 4-5 years ago, had my daughter at the gym with me and was showing off for a bunch of kids, but that memory came back to me... think I slammed 355 a few times, racked it and strutted off like I didn't want to do any more, but honestly, I was just scared of hurting myself worse.

What works, for me, is pyramid up.... you ultimately can't max like you would want to, but once a year, or so, I get that chance. Your base will always build up if you keep the weight too high to do six reps. Just writing this, I want to go for that 4-wheels again, but who the fuck am I out to impress?

gaiNZ's picture

Yeah I think I will really have to go light for a while and see what that does. Good controlled reps with 1 plate or something

press1's picture

It could be that if you are just getting back into the gym again your front shoulders and cuffs are constantly sore from other exercises also. Remember that doing deadlifts, squats, barbell curls, shoulder presses, barbell rows, pulldowns etc ALL stress the shoulders. I would take 2 to 3 complete rest days then try benching again and see if they are fully recovered and are better in any way - if you have no injuries such as rotator cuffs etc I see no reason why you suddenly cannot bench. Try strengthening your shoulders also to make them more balanced by doing dumbell raises to the front, rear and sides. I tore my cuff at the same time as a pec Lol Through doing dumbell raises I have completely strengthened my shoulder again and can bench with no pain at all now, I use to rely on painkillers before I tore the cuff before benching and now don't even need those! Also taking months off at a time means you are gonna lose a tonne of strength and also the bar groove - if you want a big bench you simply cannot afford to do this. After 5 days you start to lose bench strength and power - bear that in mind Smile

gaiNZ's picture

I know. It was stupid taking so much time off. I just about started from scratch.... I did catch up quickly but here I am with messed up rotator cuffs. I am going to try a few things people have posted. Thanks for the help.

press1's picture

I think you are just worrying too much and your shoulders are overworked and sore - if you are only 25 there is no way BOTH your cuffs are shot. I tell ya for the last 7 years I've benched twice a week with 180kg warm up sets and regular working sets with over 200kg and its only just at christmas time I finally damaged my cuff. It takes a hell of a lot to hurt them and the only reason that happened is that I kept benching whilst still sore and not resting enough.

Saint gannett's picture

Do the MRI, you just have to know what you are actually dealing with. I would lift less in the interim period, just in case it is something that needs to be dealt with. Fish oil can help, and while I don't like shark harvesting, cartilage can help, but it is a huge scam trade, be very careful with that. I would not use pain relief until you know exactly what you are dealing with, and good luck.

Willy_Wonka's picture

Good advice. Also, deca helps.

blackjack115's picture

But Deca isn't a sustainable solution and only really masks the real problem. Once the issue has been properly diagnosed it might make recovery a bit more comfortable but I wouldn't necessarily use it at all.