The board press has been utilized by powerlifters to improve lockout strength; however, it also has a key role for those struggling with banged up shoulders
Shoulder Pain During the Bench Press
The barbell bench press is one of the most common upper body lifts seen in gyms across the world, and rightly so. Very few exercises can match its ability to build upper body strength and pack on muscle mass. However, it can come at a cost.
Many people struggle with debilitating shoulder pain during the bench press. Whether it’s due to the fixed pronated grip, lack of shoulder stability, or muscle imbalances, most shoulder pain during the bench press occurs at the BOTTOM of the movement, when the bar is on the chest. It turns out there’s a simple fix for this!
Limit the Range of Motion
While it is certainly important to work on the reasons WHY your shoulder hurts while bench pressing, you can still get a good training effect while doing so. This is where the board press comes into play.
By placing a board (or several) on your chest, with either the help of another person or strapping it to yourself with a bungie cord, you can practice the EXACT bench pressing pattern simply with a limited range of motion.
Since the bottom portion of the lift is usually what gives most people trouble, I’ve found that those who have shoulder pain with the bench press can often times board press pain-free!
What About the Floor Press?
Another alternative to the board press would be the floor press, or simply performing the bench press by lying on the floor. While the concept of limiting the bottom portion of the movement is the same, one key factor is not present…leg drive!
The board press allows you achieve the leg drive that you normally utilize on the bench press, making it more similar to the bench press movement itself.
With that being said, there may be instances when you WANT to eliminate leg drive, as this can allow you to bring up weak points. By pressing without leg drive, you can really zone in on training the pressing pattern itself. Then, when you add leg drive back in, you can press even more!
This is why I recommend performing BOTH the floor press AND the board press for those who cannot bench press pain-free!
Pain during the bench press doesn’t mean you have to quit pressing. Perform the board press to get a training effect while you work on improving the factors that are causing your pain.