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Chest Building Exercises for Shoulder Injury

author image Mike Samuels
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.
Chest Building Exercises for Shoulder Injury
A young man is doing the bench press. Photo Credit Ibrakovic/iStock/Getty Images

A shoulder injury can cause pain and discomfort, but it needn't necessarily stop you from training. If you're suffering from a shoulder injury you should seek medical advice, but provided you get the all clear to carry on training you can still build your chest. Just make a few simple tweaks to the exercises you're currently doing.

Dumbbell Presses

One simple way to make dumbbell chest presses more shoulder-friendly is to turn your palms in to face each other. A standard pronated grip as you'd use on the bench press or with a regular dumbbell press internally rotates your shoulders and can be risky, claims trainer Lee Boyce on the "Stack" magazine website. Instead, Boyce recommends the palms-facing neutral grip with dumbbells. If your gym has one, you could also use a football bar -- a barbell designed with neutral handles in the middle.


Pushups can be considered to be more of a beginner exercise, but don't overlook them as a safe way for working your chest without stressing your shoulders. Pushups are a closed-chain exercise, as your hands are on the floor, which means your scapular isn't forced into an unnatural position and your shoulders have more freedom of movement, according to strength coach Tony Gentilcore. Perform your pushups using handles to incorporate a neutral grip, or with your feet elevated for more of a challenge, adds trainer and kinesiologist Dean Somerset.

Floor Presses

Floor presses are much like bench presses, but performed on the floor instead of lying on a bench. This decreases your range of movement, as your triceps hit the floor before your chest is fully stretched. This can be advantageous as lowering the bar as far as you would in a bench press can place strain on the shoulders, notes trainer Jeremey DuVall on the Men's Fitness website. Use a barbell or dumbbells for your floor presses.

Close-Grip Presses

Moving your grip closer together reduces the amount your elbows flare, which greatly decreases strain on your shoulders, notes Somerset. This does mean that your triceps are working slightly more, but your chest still gets a good workout too. If you still want to include barbell bench presses or incline presses in your program, this is a good way to press pain-free.

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