I have a client who wants to work on his chest, but bench pressing hurts his shoulder. He feels as if dumbbells are not effective. Do you have any suggestions on how he can work his chest? Also, he feels as if the decline bench is too dangerous and wants to do something else to work those muscles.
Based on your request, it seems like it's time for your client to stop bench pressing. Over time, exercise enthusiast develop pattern overload (see Paul Chek's article on this site). Pattern overload is a term used to describe the same plane of motion, same speed of motion and the same range of motion in any activity for a length of time. Does your client have a rounded shoulder, forward head posture? If so, his anterior shoulder musculature is most likely very overworked. When the body presents abnormal length-tension relationships, there will be abnormal force-couple relationship, creating abnormal pressure in the joint(s). This is why traditional bodybuilding-type exercises (bench press) can be dangerous if performed over a prolonged period of time.
Alternative exercise recommendations:
- Ball DB bench press, which will activate the stabilizer muscles and the bigger movers.
- Push-up progressions: Ball push-ups/Altered hand placement
- Box Step-ups
- Two arm cable chest presses: standing
- Alternating arm cable chest presses: standing
- One arm cable chest presses: standing
Yes, all of the mentioned exercises are different, but will help your client with the pain they are CREATING due to pattern overload. Remember: Never train in pain! Always train with individualized perfect structural alignment.