Shoulder pain in bodybuilding – what to do?

Shoulder pain is one of the most severe pains in bodybuilding. On request, every upper body workout will injure them several times a week, even more if you don’t do what is necessary to prevent joint degradation.

In this article, we will see why you may have shoulder pain, what the consequences are, but especially how to cure it if you are concerned, and finally how to prevent it. Because the best medicine is prevention . Let me explain everything to you.

Why do we have shoulder pain in bodybuilding?

Often when we do weights, we focus on muscles that are visible at the expense of others.

This is why we can quickly develop shoulder pain . The visible muscles are, for the most part, what is called the internal rotator muscles . That is, they push their shoulders forward, inward.

Unfortunately, these are relatively large muscles such as the pectoral and dorsal muscles, in contrast to the external rotators muscles like the rotator cuff muscles (especially the supraspinatus and infraspinatus), which are much smaller and less powerful in comparison.

This is why a poorly designed bodybuilding program that focuses on the bench press can end badly for our shoulders. When we over-train muscles that are visible to the detriment of those that do not see each other, that we prefer appearance in the short term, in the long term, we cannot get anything suitable if it is residual pain that medical tests cannot explain at the beginning. because the problem is mechanical.

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Indeed, in order to continue and therefore be able to truly progress when we practice doping-free bodybuilding, it is important to maintain a balance of power around our joints, this is what is called a agonist-antagonist balance.

At the level of the shoulder joint, the external rotator muscles should be as strong as the internal rotator muscles, which means they cannot be neglected, especially since it is more difficult to ask them as they are “small” and they need work really isolation .

Failure to maintain this balance and deactivate these external rotator muscles will initially lead to poor posture. My SuperPhysique partner usually calls this tortoise posture , shoulders forward with hyperkyphosis of the upper back. In most cases, this postural accentuation is predictable shoulder pain in bodybuilding, which may occur in the near future if it is not already.

Our daily habits, mainly due to the fact that we sit at the computer with our shoulders forward, greatly exacerbate this deterioration in our physique if our bodybuilding practice is not optimal.

One of the signs of poor shoulder placement is that your shoulders do not “hide” your back in profile (if I show that here in the video). Seen in profile, your shoulders are in the wrong place.

As a result, it becomes “impossible” to have a “functional” pose. Our internal rotator muscles, always the same, become less and less flexible and limit our amplitudes to avoid more serious injury. They say they are very tinted.

I often notice this during the morpho-anatomical analyzes that I do during my Premium Coaching in my room in Annecy, where the pectoral muscles are often rock-hard when the shoulders are directed forward, especially when it is connected with insufficient development of the external rotator muscles and the middle and lower trapezius muscles, which pull and lower the shoulder joint to prevent premature wear of the rotator cuff tendons.

That’s why over the years I’ve come to a simple rule : twice as many prints as designed. Otherwise, gradually, we will enter the hellish spine of shoulder pain.

What prevents shoulder pain in bodybuilding?

When your shoulder hurts, it is a vicious circle that gradually kicks in and explains why shoulder pain is not healed by rest (Note: Rest does not cure most pain – see this article about tendonitis)

We may well delete the exercises in question, since it looks like treating the consequences, not the cause of the problem, in the end it also ends very badly, and then we can do less and less exercises as needed. Some will say that this is because you are not made for exercise, which may be the case according to your morpho-anatomical analysis, but for most it is just a functional problem.

We can no longer work with the external rotator cuffs and activate the right muscles at the right time. This is called muscle amnesia.

It becomes impossible to perform the “shoulder movement”, to start drawing correctly. We can pull everything with the muscles of the arms, but more with the help of “trapeziums”, because everything is like anesthesia, amnesia. Our brains no longer know where these muscles are.

It becomes impossible to perform external rotation, perform the L-Fly exercise with sufficient amplitude for the development of external rotating muscles. We find ourselves, so to speak, prisoners of our body .

It often happens that I come across such a situation during morpho-anatomical analysis, if a person waited a long time before consulting me and thinking that the rest will save, as, unfortunately, many advise.

Ultimately, it can end very badly, with more or less full tears of the supraspinatus and infraorbital, up to an operation with more or less serious consequences. I knew a former bodybuilding champion who had just completely burst in his supraspinate and never recovered from it.

This is why we must prevent as much as possible, because treatment is always more difficult. If you do not take shoulder pain into account, it can only get worse over time with increasing disability to be able to exercise as the shoulder joint interferes with every upper body exercise.

If you’ve abused bench press exercises for a long time and especially developed the internal rotator muscles of the shoulder, which today you could not do without bench press exercises, you can even train your back and upper back muscles, like the back deltoid muscles, for a while. time.

You will no doubt also need time to work on the flexibility and mobility of the muscles that propel and lift your shoulders, such as the pectoralis minor and upper traps.

From there, you should be able to strengthen the muscles of the external rotator in a localized manner and quickly see the change in your posture. It is very important to have control of your body when you train with weights in order to have mobility and motor control of the muscles involved so as not to force an amplitude that we do not have without weight, otherwise it can lead to rapid shoulder pain.

One of the signs that a person would use a “bad” amplitude for himself is the presence of severe pain, that is, close to the muscle insertions (you can find more information on this issue here).

In this case, reduce your amplitudes to make timing more flexible if that’s one of your goals. What you would do to heal can also be used as a preventive measure on a smaller scale, such as warm up during upper body sessions. Finally, a word about drugs and so-called magic food additives.

If the problem is really mechanical, then nothing you can do will solve the problem. In the worst case, this will hide the problem, which will eventually get worse until you can do anything. Many bodybuilders have had health problems, including high intake of anti-inflammatory drugs, especially in the kidneys. No wonder many are on dialysis.

At best, my prophylactic recommendation is to insist on two nutritional supplements that have proven themselves: They will not apply to you, but will help you recover better and reduce the trauma of strength training to reduce intensity shoulder pain or slow its onset. They are, of course, complementary to a healthy diet.


In this article, I have highlighted the reason that I come across most often during the consultations that I conduct, but this may not be the only reason, but only the most common. If you now have shoulder pain in bodybuilding, I recommend several hundred people (see reviews) to go through my workouts in order to solve this problem as soon as possible and prevent the situation from worsening.

You will find stretches that I recommend, exercises for treatment, and especially exercises for preventing shoulder pain, in addition to best practices and exercises to develop your shoulders.

I hope I helped you see more clearly.

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