The Bench Press is arguably one of the most important lifts you can perform. As a strength and powerlifting coach, I prescribe the Bench Press in my programs for upper-body strength training. Unfortunately, this exercise has a habit of aggravating the shoulders.
It is my job to make sure my clients and athletes can perform an exercise in a pain-free range of motion. I often modify the exercise based on the following criteria:
Comfort—the movement is pain-free, feels natural and works within the client's current physiology.
Control—the client or athlete can demonstrate the movement technique and body positioning as provided in each exercise description.
If you feel shoulder pain during the Bench Press, all is not lost. You can modify the exercise to accommodate your shoulder anatomy and protect your health. No one modification is universal for everyone, so we recommend trying each version to find one you can perform with comfort and control. Here's what we do.