I cannot count the number of times I have taken on a new client that mentioned bench press aggravated their shoulders. I myself have bone spurs in my shoulders that were diagnosed years ago. Sometimes they act up, but I still need to train. The question is how to train while a movement is hurting you.

First: don’t do that which hurts. Simple. If flat bench hurts, don’t do it. Pressing through the pain often leads to worsening the injury. Let it be.

Second: change your modality. If you cannot do a flat bench, switch it up to something that activates the same muscle groups, but in a way that is pain free. Some options are:

  • 1, 2, and 3 board press
  • Foam pad press
  • Floor press
  • Incline press at 30 degrees
  • Dumbbells instead of barbells
  • Breaking apart the pecs and triceps into two separate movements to replace the press

Third: once the pain subsides, have a bench specialist look at your form. No, a normal gym bro won’t work. I speak regularly with Dave Tate and we chat on almost a weekly basis. Not everyone will get to work with a world class pro, but power-lifters and their coaches are by far your best bet! Find some power-lifters, ask for help, and you will be surprised at how friendly those in the sport are toward those who desire to learn.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: ALWAYS follow up with your primary care provider. Nothing can or will ever substitute this. When you hurt, see a doctor if you are ever in doubt. Period.

Jay Brewer

The Aspie Coach