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Question: “Every time I get to the heavy end of my training cycle on bench I have shoulder issues. What I can do to strengthen my shoulders to be able to handle heavy raw benching?”
Answer: I have been fortunate to maintain relatively healthy shoulders despite the fact that I have been training heavy raw bench press for the past 30+ years. The first thing I would suggest is to take a look at your touch point on your chest. If you keep the touch point low on the chest, just above the Xiphoid process, and keep your elbows tucked in you will put less strain on your shoulder joint. Flared elbows and a high touch point are a recipe for injured shoulders and pecs.
The second thing I would suggest is to perform a considerable amount of assistance exercises to keep the shoulders and upper back strong. These may include strict press, push press, dumbbell press, seated rows, bent rows, lat pull downs, shrugs and cleans. All of these exercises will help keep a good balance between front and rear delts and will build upper back strength. Increased upper back and shoulder strength will not only keep your shoulders healthy, but will also help you push through those plateaus for increased bench press strength.