I once endured a five year period where I couldn’t do any type of horizontal pressing, like barbell bench pressing, without shoulder pain. Then a friend suggested I give benching another try but with a full one-second pause at the chest, which I’d never done before, cause, ya know, I’m a dude and a pause might lower by bench by 5 or 10 pounds.
Much to my surprise, that bench workout was pain-free, and I’ve been regularly benching 2-3 time per week. I’ve never experienced shoulder pain since I made the pause a personal rule.
Here’s Coach Derek Binford demonstrating a 3-second pause at the bottom, but one second may be all you need:
The Mechanisms Behind the Fix
Your shoulder is most vulnerable when the bar is at its lowest point. That’s when mechanical forces are at their highest. So by pausing at the chest you’ll reduce those forces, sparing your shoulders while forcing your pecs to work harder at the same time.
Bottom line: Less joint stress, more muscle stress – this is what we should all be striving for right?
Oh, and although the pause did in fact limit the weights I could use initially, this was quickly overcome by the fact that I could now bench hard, 2-3 days a week, without pain.