The Barbell Bench Press is a universal exercise for all strength training programs, but especially for guys looking to increase their upper-body strength and pectoral size.
Bench pressing is also an exercise that can cause pain on the front side of the shoulder. This is usually because guys spend too much time doing exercises that work their anterior deltoids and fail to train their back and posterior delts (learn how to with rear delt raises).
The problem is usually solvable with a simple form change. Athletes often push their shoulders forward when benching. This takes the joint out of its natural position and stresses it, often causing pain. Instead, lifters should pull their shoulders back to create a sturdy foundation for heavy pressing.
It sounds easy, but it's a bit more difficult in practice.
Next time you attempt the Barbell Bench Press, think about adding a pulling element to activate your posterior chain. Try the Bench Press tip below for better activation of your upper back muscles.
This variation will not allow you to press more weight. The goal is to keep your shoulders healthy. More posterior chain strength in your scapula and shoulders means it's less likely your shoulders will succumb to an injury.
How to pull the bar apart on the Bench Press
1. Make sure your feet are flat on the ground and your heels are driven into the ground.
2. Align your eyes with the bar
3. When you grip the bar, put your thumb on the edge of the knurling (rough stuff on the bar) and the middle of the bar where it's smooth. Then wrap your thumbs around the bar.
4. Keeping your hands tight on the bar, try and pull it apart. This will activate the posterior stabilizer muscles of your scapula andyour triceps.
5. Lower the bar to your sternum while pulling the bar apart with a second lowering count to your chest
6. Press the bar back up with speed; maintain a strong grip on the bar while trying to tear the bar apart