If you have ever gone to the gym on a Monday, chances are you’ve waited for a bench press station.
Every meathead wants to work his chest. Spend enough time in the gym like I do, and you soon begin to find out why lots of people have shoulder problems.
And I get it, the chest is fun to develop and you can choose many exercises, but did you know that overtraining your chest leads to a host of problems that could force you to stop training altogether?
If you are an average guy who likes to bench press a lot, you may want to re-think your strategy.
Why You Need To Re-Think Bench Monday
I’m willing to bet at some point in your life you’ve probably had some shoulder pain. That same pain you keep putting aside is a sign telling you that something is wrong, and if you don’t do something quickly, bigger problems will arise.
While the bench press is a great exercise for developing upper body strength, too much pressing can lead to muscular imbalances.
More specifically, benching a ton leads to short and stiff pec muscles while the upper back muscles become weaker. This causes a change in upper body posture that often leads to shoulder impingement.
If you want to play with your kids and be able to live your daily life without nagging shoulder problems, read on for ways to keep your shoulders healthy.
- Daily Soft-Tissue Work
As a massage therapist, I have a strong opinion to daily soft tissue work.
While nothing beats hands-on manual therapy, there is something to be said about regular massage.
The fascial system is like a spider web inside your body that runs from joints, to bones, to nerves and everything in between. When stimulated with direct pressure it results in favorable changes that allow muscles to relax.
And this is where foam rolling comes into daily practice. But I’m not talking about mindlessly moving around a roller. For self-massage to work, you need to go slow and pay more attention to the upper back, shoulders, and chest.
Posterior Cuff Release
2. Pay Attention To Those Tiny Muscles
During a bench press, the shoulder blades are locked in place against the bench. And while this is good for maximal strength, it does not bode well for optimal shoulder health.
A healthy shoulder allows the scapula to move freely along the rib cage. The lower traps, upper traps, serratus anterior all work together to upwardly rotate the scapulae. On the flip side, the levator, rhomboids, pecs, and lats work together to downwardly rotate the scapulae.
Unfortunately, most people are weak in their upward rotators and over dominant in their downward rotators. But, paying attention to drills that activate the lower trap and work on upward rotation can make the shoulder a lot healthier.
Scapular Floor Slides
1/2 Kneeling Lower Trap Activation
Deep Squat With Lower Trap Activation
TRX Serratus Slides
3. Perform Shoulder Friendly Exercises
Once you have activated the right muscles, it is time to reinforce activation through strength training. The following are my favorite exercises to help keep the shoulders healthy.
I know what you may be thinking, push-ups- really? But a good push up keeps the shoulder healthy and allows the scapulae to move freely.
Split Stance 1 Arm Landmine Press
BB Floor Press
Chest Supported Row
No More Bench Monday
Seriously, if your shoulders hurt stop benching. Consider some of the following activation and strengthening drills to help keep your shoulders healthy. Your body will thank you.