If you’re struggling with shoulder pain while bench pressing, or progress on the bench is plateauing hard, the last thing you should be doing is force feeding the barbell and chasing the mythical beast known as linear progression.
There’s a smarter way that’ll allow you to finally recover from that nasty shoulder pain while also recharging your neurological system to once again be able to display the strength that you’ve worked so hard to develop.
This superset will prime your upper back and posterior shoulder girdle for improved stability before hitting the bench. It’ll also incorporate a pain-free setup that will limit the amount of extension and internal rotation your shoulders are placed into during traditional bench presses.
Combining the banded face pull with the banded floor press is the perfect combo to recover your shoulder health while still pressing heavy.
By placing the face pull before heavy pressing, you can prime and activate the upper back to act as primary stabilizers for the heavy pressing to come. In a chest and shoulder dominant exercise, the function of the lats and upper back don’t get enough credit, but they’re the key to unlocking performance and longevity at the shoulders. You’re only as strong on the bench press as what you can support and stabilize with the upper back, which is commonly the weakest link in the chain.
Remember that you’re “activating not annihilating” with the face pull, so stay within the 4-8 rep range, peak isometric contractions at the back side of the motion, and a full range of motion with an accentuated eccentric movement to target the upper back for enhancing stability.
Once the upper back is primed, it’s time to get under the bar and press. Using the floor instead of the bench is very beneficial to shoulder health. Limiting the end range of motion during the press allows for less extension of the gleno-humeral joint, while also helping to limit the forced internal rotation at this same joint, which is notoriously associated with front-sided shoulder injuries.
Along with ditching the bench for the floor, placing bands on the bar to introduce accommodating resistance also has some key benefits. The bands alter the strength curve, meaning the most resistance is displayed at the top of the range of motion at lockout, and the least when the bar is closer to the chest in the bottom position.
Since we can accelerate the bar more naturally, we can program heavy pressing in a more pain-free manner while training explosively and limiting external loading.
Control the weight down, pause with your upper arms on the ground, and drive up explosively against the bands. If you’re new to pressing with bands, make sure you drive hard into the bands through the entire range of motion. Stick to the lower rep ranges (2-5) and focus on stability, smoothness and explosiveness.