I've recently come to learn more about powerlifting and the way powerlifters perform their chest press. The idea is not to isolate, but rather the opposite, involve more of your body when doing the movement. It's meant to reduce the strain on your shoulder joint and allow you to lift more, but that also means it's rather a whole body exercise. For proper form look online, or better yet, ask someone who knows what they're doing to help you out, but the general idea is to arch your back as much as you can, and push the weight up though your feet. This position allows the path of motion to be more like pushing down than away from your body and thus reduces the stress on the shoulder joint.
How can I isolate my pecs more during the bench press, thus minimizing shoulder stress? Pain from an old rotator cuff injury often inhibits my lifting abilities in this exercise
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For safety, the bench press should not be used as an isolation exercise. That results in pec tears. Matt Wenning advocates this principle, and he is of the most knowledgeable people in the fitness industry in terms of injury prevention and rejuvenating training practices.
Isolating the pecs is more likely to increase than minimize shoulder stress. For chest, cable crossovers would be the most isolating exercise. For bodybuilding purposes, a bench press is used to overload the chest with intensity because of higher weight used. Isolating the chest with the bench press is counterintuitive. If anything, a dumbbell press with a squeeze at the top is the best pressing motion to target the chest specifically when overloading the pushing muscles and strengthening the pressing movement is not the goal. But even that does not isolate the chest.
Rotator cuff issues usually mean that isolating the chest or giving the chest even a moderate amount of resistance with a full range of motion can be dangerous. The range of motion of the chest for the bench press will cause a degree of internal rotation even if the cues like scapular retraction and depression are used. So the rotator cuff is always prone to danger with a bench press if it’s already injured.
Incorporate warm up sets of rotator cuff moves each workout (not just on arm and chest days.)
Consider adding in decline pressing work. Dorian Yates absolutely swears by decline pressing because it takes a great deal of strain off of your shoulder tendons. If you’re bodybuilding you can avoid flat benching all together if it is too painful for you, but naturally if you’re doing powerlifting you will need to simply build your strength with outwork and variation exercises to help support your efforts in adding weight to the bar.
Warm up your shoulder before bench and if your tried wide grid bench and close grip will have isolate that pecs and your don’t have to bench you can use machines until your shoulder gets stronger your i I’ll your comfortable bench or just go lighter and do more reps