Ask The Super Strong Guy: How Can I Bench With An Injured Shoulder?

Pro powerlifter Mark Bell answers your questions about benching with an injured shoulder.


You've got a big chest, Big Bell! My chest development sucks. I want jacked pecs, but my shoulders hurt when I bench. What should I do?

Thanks for noticing my chest, dude! Guys often admire my barrel. Every year when my wife and I go to the Arnold and Olympia to demo the Sling Shot (more on the "Slanger" in a minute), my wife always says, "Look at these fit chicks! I bet they're coming to see you." Guess what happens? I only talk to dudes. All day.

I wish I was a women's beach volleyball expert instead of a meathead icon who stuffs fat guys into spandex. Then I'd get some decent clientele. Anyway, back to my man boobs (a.k.a., moobs).

Oh, wait: We're actually trying to fix your moobs, right? Here's a workout that will build your pecs but won't kill your shoulders.

Bell's "Anti-Moob" Approach

I don't want you to stop bench pressing entirely. For the future health of your shoulders, I want you to pinch your shoulder blades together and stay tight while you press. I also want you to pick up a Sling Shot.

Mark Bell Demos The Slingshot
Watch The Video - 01:18

The Sling Shot will allow you build muscle and strength while making the bench press safer. Like a lifting belt for your upper body, the Sling Shot supports strength, form, and safety.

It helps dissipate some of the eccentric loading on your joints, especially at the bottom of the bench press, where your shoulders are most vulnerable.

In addition to pressing with the Sling, I'm going to have you focus on dumbbell presses, flyes, bent-over lateral raises, and triceps extensions. These exercises will build pectoral strength, shoulder stability, and stronger triceps for increased pressing support.

Exercise Notes

Bench Press

To keep your grizzled shoulder healthy, focus on good form and use a Sling Shot for the entire workout. You will perform five sets of two reps.

Add 15-20 pounds per set until you've completed all five sets. Two reps per set will help you build your chest while strengthening your banged-up shoulder.

Here is a sample, based on someone who benches 300 pounds. Rest in between sets should be around two minutes. If your shoulder feels OK after set five, then add two more sets and keep upping the weight.

  • Set 1: 210 pounds, 2 reps
  • Set 2: 220 pounds, 2 reps
  • Set 3: 240 pounds, 2 reps
  • Set 4: 260 pounds, 2 reps
  • Set 5: 280 pounds, 2 reps

Timed Dumbbell Press

Next up, we have incline and flat timed dumbbell presses. I know what you're thinking: "People's Coach, what the hell is a timed dumbbell bench?" Exactly what it sounds like, kid!

Grab a weight that's roughly 50% of your 10-rep max. You're going to lift it for two solid minutes. The clock starts when you start.

You can press at any rate you'd like. I like dishing out some reps before I switch to survival mode. In survival mode, I perform one press every five seconds.

Here is an example of timed pressing:

Timed Dumbbell Bench Press
Watch The Video - 03:36

Timed pressing will give you an insane pump, build ligament and tendon strength, and help you build muscle. Because you're lifting a relatively light weight, timed pressing is safe on your shoulders.

Perform one set of inclined timed presses, rest for a couple minutes, and then perform one flat set.

Bell's "Anti-Moob" Workout

Now that you know the details, we can dig into the complete workout.

Anti-Moob Chest Workout

I'm sick and tired of seeing dudes walking around with saggy man boobs! Take a look around next time you're cruising around town. I guarantee you'll see skinny-fat guys with tits.

Guys, moobs are unacceptable. If you want your wife to start paying attention to you, not what she reads in 50 Shades of Grey, then you need to hit my anti-moobs program.

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