Scapular Stability During The Bench Press

The bench press is one of those elite lifts that is important for athletes to learn at any age, particularly because it is often performed incorrectly.  The only thing I dislike about the bench is that people tend to think you need to bench, or should I call it “chest day” all day, everyday in order to improve it.  Also, understand that there are a few things that will drive your strength up, decrease your chance of injury, and get rid of nagging shoulder pain than the tips listed below:

  • 1.  Having adequate t-spine mobility is needed to allow for the scapulae to be put into a good stable position to press effectively (soft-tissue work and mobility drills are needed)
  • 2.  Upper back strength and control is significantly important to improving pressing power.
  • 3.  Learn the basics of the setup
  • 4. Always focus on your form and technique, it takes time to master something.  Even elite lifters will tell you they continually try to work on their form..if someone benches a ton of weight and he or she is still trying to improve upon technique then I think we should be too.
  • 5.  Use shorter range of motion until the t-spine mobility or scapular stability is under control (or pain subsides).
  • A few exercises that are always awesome to help with shoulder pain…(Pressing) push-ups, DB Bench, Floor presses, board presses
  • Learning how to row, face pull, isohold (batwings) and chin ups effectively is a great way to teach someone where there shoulders need to be during the bench (back and down)

Beast man DT

Here is a video demonstrating incorrect and correct shoulder position during the bench.  The first two reps are incorrect (sh.blades coming apart) by a benching standard, in a push-up we would want to see this.  The last 3 is demonstrating better control and more stable tight shoulder blades in the presence of the pressing movement.  Shooting cannon from a canoe is the best analogy here..meaning you need stability in order to press effectively

The only thing that is not shown is that I would typically put three fingers between their shoulders blades and tell them to pinch them back and down and to try to keep them there while pressing out.  Cues such as “pull or row the weight down to your chest,” “chest up, ribs down,” and “stay tight” have all been effective is helping with teaching this.  Finding what works is the art in the coaching.

Cheers and Happy Easter,


Categories: Injury Prevention, Strength Training, Stretching/Soft Tissue Work

Tags: , , , , , , ,

1 reply


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