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Why Do I Feel Bench Press in My Shoulders – Reason and Remedy

Feeling the bench press in your shoulders could be due to improper form, such as flaring elbows or incorrect shoulder positioning. 

When the shoulders take on more stress, it can lead to discomfort. Focus on retracting shoulder blades, maintaining a 45-degree elbow angle, and engaging chest muscles for a proper bench press technique that minimizes strain on the shoulders.

In this discussion, we dive into the various factors that contribute to shoulder discomfort during bench presses and offer insightful remedies to help you perform this exercise safely and efficiently.

8 Reasons Your Shoulder Hurts While Doing Bench Press

reasons Shoulder Hurts while Doing Bench Press

There are several reasons behind this issue. Here are some of the reasons highlighted. Take a look and identify the mistakes.

Incorrect Setup and Technique

Poor bench press form can significantly contribute to shoulder pain. 

When your technique is off, such as flaring your elbows outward, placing your hands unevenly on the bar, or not properly positioning your shoulders on the bench, you put excessive stress on the shoulder joint. 

Additionally, arching your back excessively or failing to retract your scapulae can lead to improper weight distribution and strain on the shoulders.

Lack of Warm-up

Neglecting to warm up your shoulder muscles adequately before starting the bench press can lead to discomfort and pain. 

Cold muscles lack flexibility, making them more susceptible to strains or tears when subjected to sudden or heavy movements.

Overuse or Overtraining

Performing the bench press too frequently or without allowing sufficient rest for your shoulder muscles can result in overuse injuries. 

The repetitive nature of the exercise can lead to irritation and inflammation of the shoulder joint and surrounding tissues.

Weak Rotator Cuff Muscles

The rotator cuff muscles play a crucial role in stabilizing the shoulder joint during the bench press. 

If these muscles are weak, they may struggle to support the weight properly, leading to imbalances and potential pain.

Muscle Imbalances

An imbalance between the muscles of the chest, shoulders, and upper back can lead to improper movement patterns during the bench press. 

This can cause certain muscles to overcompensate, leading to strain and discomfort in the shoulder area.

Impingement Syndrome

Impingement occurs when the space between the acromion (a part of the shoulder blade) and the rotator cuff tendons narrows. 

During the bench press, this can lead to the tendons getting pinched and inflamed, resulting in pain, especially during the lowering phase of the movement.

Pre-existing Shoulder Conditions

Individuals with pre-existing shoulder conditions, such as tendinitis, bursitis, or previous shoulder injuries, are more susceptible to experiencing pain during the bench press. 

Exercise can exacerbate these conditions and cause discomfort.

Incorrect Progression of Weight

Rapidly increasing the amount of weight lifted during the bench press without allowing your shoulder muscles to adapt can lead to injuries. 

The added stress on the shoulders from lifting heavier weights than your muscles can handle can result in strains or even tears.

Ways to Perform Bench Press Perfectly without Hurting Shoulder

Ways to Perform Bench Press Perfectly without Hurting Shoulder

Here, we unveil the essential steps to execute the bench press with utmost perfection, ensuring shoulder safety without compromising on gains.

Step 1- Warm-up

Before beginning any workout, including the bench press, ensure you perform a proper warm-up routine. This can include light cardio to increase blood flow and dynamic stretches to activate the muscles in your chest, shoulders, and upper back.

Step 2- Set Up Properly

Bench Placement

Position the bench under the barbell in the rack. Lie down with your eyes aligned under the bar.


Grip the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Your palms should be facing away from your face (overhand grip).

Shoulder Positioning

Retract your shoulder blades by squeezing them together and pushing them down. This creates a stable base for your shoulders.

Feet Position

Place your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart, ensuring your knees are directly above your ankles.

Step 3- Unrack the Bar

Spotter (Optional)

If available, have a spotter help you unrack the bar. They can assist with lifting the bar off the rack.


If not using a spotter, ensure the barbell is set at a height where you can lift it off the rack without straining your shoulders. Unrack the bar and hold it directly over your shoulders with your arms extended.

Step 4- Descent

Elbow Angle

Lower the bar by bending your elbows at a 45-degree angle from your body. This angle reduces strain on your shoulders.

Controlled Movement

Lower the bar in a controlled manner, allowing it to touch your mid-chest. Avoid bouncing the bar off your chest, as this can increase the risk of injury.


Inhale as you lower the bar to your chest. Maintain tension in your core to support your spine.

Step 5- Pressing the Bar

Pressing Motion

Press the bar upward by extending your arms. Keep your elbows at a 45-degree angle to minimize shoulder stress.


Exhale as you press the bar upward. Continue engaging your core for stability.

Step 6 Rack the Bar

Bar Path

Press the bar until your arms are fully extended. Move the bar in a straight line, directly above your shoulders.


Carefully rack the bar back onto the rack.

Step 7 Cool Down

After completing your bench press sets, perform gentle stretches to cool down your chest, shoulders, and upper back muscles.

Tips for Shoulder Safety

Start with Light Weights

Focus on mastering proper form before adding heavy weights.

Progress Gradually

Gradually increase the weight to allow your muscles to adapt.

Use a Spotter

If lifting heavy, having a spotter can provide assistance if needed.

Listen to Your Body

If you feel any pain or discomfort in your shoulders, stop immediately and reassess your form.

Tips To Fix Shoulder Pain During Bench Press

Here are some tips to fix shoulder pain during bench press.

Tip 1- Check Your Form

Ensure your form and technique are correct. Incorrect form can put unnecessary strain on your shoulders. Focus on

  • Retracting your shoulder blades and keeping them down for a stable base.
  • Keeping your elbows at around a 45-degree angle from your body.
  • Avoid flaring your elbows out excessively.
  • Maintaining a slight arch in your lower back.

Tip 2- Warm-up Properly

Warm up your shoulder muscles with dynamic stretches and light resistance exercises before you begin your bench press routine. This improves blood flow, increases joint mobility, and prepares your muscles for the upcoming activity.

Tip 3- Reduce the Weight

Temporarily decrease the amount of weight you’re lifting to a level that doesn’t cause pain. This allows your shoulder muscles to recover and adapt without further strain.

Tip 4- Focus on Mobility and Flexibility

Incorporate regular shoulder mobility and flexibility exercises into your routine. This can help improve your range of motion and reduce the likelihood of impingement.

Tip 5- Strengthen the Rotator Cuff

Weak rotator cuff muscles can contribute to shoulder pain. Add specific exercises to strengthen these muscles, such as external and internal rotations using resistance bands.

Tip 6- Stretch Chest and Front Shoulder Muscles

Tight chest muscles and front shoulder muscles can exacerbate shoulder pain. Stretch these muscles regularly to maintain balance and flexibility.

Tip 7- Ice and Rest

If you experience acute pain, apply ice to the affected area for 15-20 minutes at a time. Also, give your shoulders ample time to rest and recover between workouts.

Tip 8- Consult a Professional

If the pain persists or worsens despite your efforts, consider consulting a medical professional or physical therapist. They can evaluate your condition, provide a diagnosis, and offer personalized recommendations.

Tip 9- Modify Your Grip

Try altering your grip width and hand placement on the bar. Some individuals find relief by adjusting their grip to a more comfortable position.

Tip 10- Incorporate Dumbbell Presses

Switching to dumbbell presses can provide more freedom of movement and reduced strain on the shoulders. Dumbbells allow a more natural range of motion compared to a fixed barbell.

Tip 11- Avoid Overtraining

Allow your shoulder muscles sufficient time to recover between bench press sessions. Overtraining can lead to muscle fatigue and an increased risk of injury.

Tip 12- Mind Your Breathing

Focus on your breathing technique. Exhale as you press the weight up and inhale as you lower it. Proper breathing can help stabilize your core and reduce unnecessary strain on your shoulders.

What Are the Reasons for Feeling Shoulder Pain During Bench Press?

Feeling shoulder pain during bench press can hinder your progress. Lack of proper warm-up, excessive weightlifting, inadequate form, muscle imbalances, and overuse injuries are common reasons. Implementing a shoulder pain fix strategy, such as warming up, using proper form, strengthening supporting muscles, and giving adequate rest, can help prevent and alleviate discomfort.


Q1: Should You Touch Your Chest When You Bench?

Yes, you should aim to touch your chest with the barbell during the bench press. This allows for a full range of motion, engages more muscle fibers, and maximizes the benefits of the exercise. 
However, ensure that the barbell lightly touches your chest without bouncing, as excessive bouncing can strain your shoulders and chest muscles.

Q2: How Deep Should You Bench Press?

When bench pressing, aim to lower the barbell until it lightly touches your chest. Your upper arms should ideally be at around a 45-degree angle from your body. 
This depth allows for proper engagement of the chest muscles while minimizing strain on the shoulders. Avoid going too shallow or too deep, as that might compromise your form and effectiveness.

Q3: How To Increase Bench Press Strength?

To increase bench press strength, focus on progressive overload by gradually increasing weights. Ensure proper form, engaging chest, shoulders, and triceps. Incorporate accessory exercises targeting these muscles. 
Vary rep and set ranges, allow sufficient recovery, and maintain a balanced diet. Consistent training, patience, and gradual progression are key to improving your bench press strength.

Q4: How Do You Loosen Your Shoulders For Bench Press?

Before bench pressing, perform dynamic shoulder stretches to increase mobility and flexibility. Arm swings, shoulder circles, and doorway stretches can help. 
Also, consider using a foam roller or lacrosse ball to release tension in the shoulder muscles. Proper warm-up and mobility exercises can reduce the risk of shoulder discomfort during the bench press.

Q5: Can Bench Press Damage Shoulders?

Before bench pressing, perform dynamic shoulder stretches to increase mobility and flexibility. Arm swings, shoulder circles, and doorway stretches can help. 
Also, consider using a foam roller or lacrosse ball to release tension in the shoulder muscles. Proper warm-up and mobility exercises can reduce the risk of shoulder discomfort during the bench press.

Q6: Why Is Your Bench So Weak?

Your bench press not increasing or may be weak due to factors like muscle imbalances, poor form, lack of progressive overload, limited range of motion, inconsistent training, inadequate recovery, and suboptimal nutrition. 
Identifying these issues, improving form, gradually increasing weights, and addressing supporting muscle groups can help boost your bench press strength over time.


Feeling the bench press in your shoulders can be attributed to improper form, particularly flared elbows or incorrect shoulder positioning. 

This strain can lead to discomfort and potential injury. To remedy this, prioritize proper technique by retracting shoulder blades. 

Remember, listening to your body and making necessary adjustments are essential for a successful and injury-free bench press journey. 

So you may now know why you fell bench press in your shoulder.

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About Ben Adler

I'm Ben, a passionate fitness enthusiast on a mission to help you achieve your fitness goals. With a love for lifting and building a well-rounded physique, I founded Swole Class to provide beginners with the guidance and knowledge they need to navigate the gym and embrace a healthier lifestyle. Join me on this journey as we unlock our potential and inspire greatness together. Learn more about me

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