Monday, December 31, 2007

Bench Press...

I am going to have to face the fact that bench press is simply not my lift and will never be a strong lift for me. Bench pressing hurts my shoulders. Pressing over head is fine... even push-ups are doable. Even with all the excellent coaching Maura gave me, I can only say it hurt less. Yesterday I worked on bench press with Maura. It was a sad day for me...

Bench Press

How pathetic is that, a no lift on 95lbs? I left the gym with a head-ache and very sore shoulders. When I got home I took some ibuprofen and spent the rest of the day relaxing.

Here is my plan for next time I bench...
*No yoga before bench press. Certain asana can aggravate my shoulders, I should save my shoulders for bench press on bench press day.
*Ibuprofen as a prophylactic - I will take an anti-inflammatory before there is even a chance for inflammation.
*Z-Health - Mike gave me a Z evaluation on Saturday. I think being vigilante about doing my drills will help.
*Lots of shoulder extension. Back bends and other yoga asana does help my shoulders feel better, just not on bench press day.


Mark Reifkind said...

I know you will hate this suggestion but if you can tape a few sets of bench I would like to see what's going on.bench is a very strange animal. If I benched acertain way I had no pain and was strong. any other way shoulders killed and had no strength.
one thing to remember: the key is lats and triceps.

fawn said...

Alrigh Mark, I have posted a video of my bench press two weeks ago on the other post called "Bench Press". Have a look and let me know what you think.

I know how to use my lats in a push up, I do believe I am using my lats with the bench press...

Triceps should be adequate... I can do 8 body weight dips to 90 degrees.

When you watch the video, you will notice lack of stability toward the end... I feel tendons rolling over bones, I can tolerate a little, but after 3 reps my strength gives out.

Mark Reifkind said...

how did I miss that? LOL. very nice. great arch, solid setup except for not really retracting the shoulder blades when you receive the bar. When you get the handoff your shoulder blades have to be FULLY in the sockets and stay there. Let the handoff guy do the work. just lockout the elbows and keep the shoulders blades pinched together.
your descent is solid,keeping the elbows really vertical and the bar path up is great. BUT you let the shoulder come up after every rep.the shoulder blades never protract at the top.just the elbow locks will make a HUGE difference for you eventually but its hard to learn.
but hey you've got a great base position to work from.
I beleive you cannot have too strong of triceps when you bench.we did crazy tricep work with mainly lying triceps extensions of all kinds. you have to get the long head of the triceps.
dips are great but can be tough on the shoulders, especially in conjunction with a bench program.
triceps, lats and rhomboid work really helps create a stable base to push with.
oh, another thing. I always tried to push myself through the bench; AWAY from the bar instead of trying to push the bar up. Same in RKC style military press. same stuff.

fawn said...

I only now just posted that video... so you didn't miss a thing. I put off posting it because, frankly... I am more than a little embarrassed of such an ugly bench press.

When my shoulders feel healthy it's not so bad. I quit bench pressing altogether because I thought it aggravated my shoulders and the pain would come back. I do get some scapular winging toward the middle of the workout. It's like the pain sets in and I lose control of my scaps. Sometimes my pec minor spasms and pulls on that coracoid process, and that causes a ton of pain.

When my elbows are tucked in like push-ups, pull-overs, skull-crushers, DB chest press or dips, no pain... when my elbows drop below 90 degrees and come away from my body - I will get immediate or delayed shoulder pain.

I know all this pain sounds weird... at least it does to me. I know what aggravates it, I know what helps it... but I don't know how to make it go away, and I can't stop it from showing up.

Mark Reifkind said...

ok now i feel better. I dont think your bench looks bad at all. and you know I would say so if I thought it,lol. You have everything in the right position, save the shoulder retraction and that is an easy fix.
the fact that you cant bench without pain unless you are in the right position is some serious immediate feedback no?
I think you can learn to bench well. no doubt.As brett says quoting dan john" its not the squat that hurts its how you squat that hurts".
another thing that takes a long time to learn is how to make the bench into a total body lift. my start and my lockout of my bench was my leg drive.lats and triceps in the middle.

all this pain doesnt sound weird. benching is a biomechanical disaster. a mutant exercise because you are laying down and inhibiting the scapular stabilization mechanism. but you do know how to get rid of the pain

"When my elbows are tucked in like push-ups, pull-overs, skull-crushers, DB chest press or dips, no pain... when my elbows drop below 90 degrees and come away from my body - I will get immediate or delayed shoulder pain."

just do that.
as I said, your positions in the bench are good. you just need to keep the shoulders in the sockets, increase strength in the key muscles and learn to use the whole body.bench takes time.

Mark Reifkind said...

I just put up a video of my favorite triceps exercise on my blog. rolling db extensions.
I'm not suggesting any changes before this meet I am just thinking past that and for your benchin in general

fawn said...

Thanks for the confidence Mark, it means a lot. I will work triceps until my shoulder pain stabilize... I will post a video of my next attempt, hopefully in a week. Tomorrow is squats! Now there is my lift!

Mark Reifkind said...

fawn also work on the groove with just the bar until you can keep the shoulders sucked deep into the sockets as you press.

Mike T Nelson said...

Bugger that you are having pain during the bench press. I think you called it correct when you said that the pain starts to shut down the scap movement--so stop before this happens.

I know you only have a few weeks before the meet, but try to get all of your reps in the bench pain free if possible.

I am very confident that you will be able to bench pain free, it will take some future work though. You are strong enough, you just need some perfect practice and a few need Z drills perhaps.

Let me know how the squat and DL go since that was the main focus of the Z session since those are a higher priority for you. I do expect some carry over to your shoulder function though, as you saw at the end of the Z session.

Be careful with NSAIDs like advil as they can be a useful tool short term to possible prevent the brain remodeling to pain (pre-emptive analgesics), but long term they can actually impair the healing process.

Keep up the great work and you will rock the meet!!!
Mike N

fawn said...

So... here is what happened with bench at the gym today. While I waited for Maura to get her suit on I wanted to try Rif's suggestion about shoulder blades squeezing together. I used only the bar, but it felt much, much better. Maura said it looked much better too.

The inflammation in my shoulders is gone, and I generally feel like my shoulders are healthy right now. However, moving the bar from the uprights to over my chest kills my shoulders. I feel tendons grinding and rolling over bones. This is where I lose my strength and I feel it all shut down. I will have to count on my lift off guy to do all the positioning.

Thanks Mark, that really helped a lot!

Maura said...

This is a lot of good feedback, Fawn. Also, I didn't realize until I looked at your blog how many reps you had done before we did the singles. I think we could cut it down to 3 sets of five instead of five. And then do a few singles with the signals for the meet.

Another thing we can do is I can hand off to you instead of you taking the bar out of the racks. This should save your shoulders a lot.


Mike T Nelson said...

Not to confuse the matter more, but a tip I picked up from Pavel on the bench was "to pull the weight down" and "push yourself away from the bar"
So bringing the bar down (after a lift off to keep position) you think of actually PULLING the bar down, and then think of the bar staying there, but you push yourself away from the bar. I cue it as "pull it up" and "push away". May be worth a shot and I can give you a quick demo this Friday at the
Press, just remind me.

Having a lift off always feels much better to me, esp when learning and/or using a heavier weight than normal.

Keep up the great work!! Awesome job
Mike N

fawn said...


Yep... I use those cues as well, (pulling the bar down and pushing yourself away) when I train my clients as well. Thanks for reminding me to apply it to myself as well. LOL!

I don't typically train clients with movements that I don't train myself (i think it's hypocritical), however with bench press, well, it is not a good lift for me.