How to Build a Strong Chest Without Shoulder Pain

Pressing is a great way to build a strong chest and thick triceps.  Everyone wants to brag about how much they can bench press.  However, a lot of people feel like they can't adequately press because of injured or cranky shoulders.

As a Personal Trainer I see shoulder injuries all the time.  It is the most common injury among gym going adults.  An injured shoulder does not have to mean a long time away from the gym.  There are smart and safe ways to work around it, while still getting a training effect.

A bum shoulder can throw a wrench into your plans for bench press domination.  There is one way you can continue to build your press, while saving your shoulder. 

What is it?

The Floor Press is a very similar exercise to the bench press.  It hammers your chest and triceps.  There is one key difference- it allows your shoulder to remain at a neutral and injury free angle.   It allows you to press weight and build chest strength, while keeping your shoulder in a neutral position that will cut out any possibility of an injury.

Why it works

The Floor Press limits the range of motion your shoulder needs to achieve, but not the amount of force your pecs need to produce.  You are saving your shoulder, while still challenging your chest. By setting up on the floor you are not allowing your shoulder to drop beyond your spine, into a non-neutral position like you do while bench pressing.  This will keep your shoulder "packed" and supported by the musculature of your upper back and lats.  It is a supremely safe position that will cut down on any chance of strains or impingements. 

The Floor Press also allows your shoulders to stay in a neutral position at the bottom of the movement.  They do not need to internally rotate like at the bottom of a tradition bench press.   

How to do it

Here's a handy dandy video of myself performing a one armed floor press with a Kettlebell.

Things to Keep in Mind

Start with the weight at your side so your shoulder is already in a neutral "locked" position.  You also want the soles of your feet to be placed on the ground.

Before you load a ton of weight find the ideal angle of your hand and elbow.  You want to find the position that is pain free and natural for you.  There is no rule that says you must press with your hands a certain way- find the comfortable setup for you and go with it.

There are many ways to work around an injury, but the most efficient way is to ensure that an injury never happens in the first place.  The only truth about weight lifting is that you must find what works for you and do it continually, and do it with confidence.  Each of our journey to health is different, and you must embrace your own path.  For some that means a heavy barbell bench press, for others that might mean a different variation of pressing.  

Give this exercise a try in addition to or as a substitute for bench pressing.  Let me know how it goes!

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