Ever feel the tightness or ache deep in the shoulder during or after a series of bench press sets?  I must admit I LOVED doing bench press all through college and in my early twenties.  Guys love the chest pump and of course nothing impresses a girl more than broad shoulders, a big chest and beefy arms, right?

Then as I began gaining years of experience as a therapist and started my personal training career, I began to realize a common scenario in men lifting weights regularly.  They had horrible posture, weak posterior chain strength and sore shoulders.  The common thread was this:

  • Bench press and loads of chest exercises 2-3x/week and maybe some occasional back exercises thrown in once per week. 

This repetitive bench pressing, dips and flies created a HUGE imbalance.  Keep in mind for every chest exercise you do, you should balance it with a back exercise.  Some believe the ratio of back to chest exercises should be 3:2, while others suggest 2:1.  Suffice it to say I just believe we need less pressing and flies and more back exercises in general.

The poor weak rotator cuff stands up tall in the teens, twenties and early thirties, but it eventually starts to break down over time.  Aside from modifying range of motion, load and changing arm angles (all things I preach), you must work hard to reverse the effects of gravity by doing more upper/lower back training to prevent the caveman syndrome.

Your long term shoulder health depends on it.  I have rehabbed hundreds of shoulders going through rotator cuff and labral repair that are no doubt in some way related to lifting abuse.  Take my word for it when I tell you backing off the load, volume and frequency of bench pressing will add years of life to your shoulders and prevent you from living on anti-inflammatory medication to make it through the day.  I am not anti-bench per se, but I do believe once per week is more than enough for most of us.

Today, I have included a link to a recent column I wrote for PFP Magazine on one such posterior chain exercise to work the upper back and cuff.  Click here to read the column.

In addition, I added a video of the exercise below.  This is easy to do and will immediately improve shoulder health.  Consider adding it to your gym routine at least 2x/week on upper body days.

In closing today, I want to wish all of my friends, family, subscribers and followers a Happy Holiday Season!