🏋️‍♂️ 5 tips to bench press without shoulder pain

We’re back with the mid-week pick-me-up you need to feel your strongest. Let’s get to it!

Here’s what is going on today:

  • The inside scoop on 36-year-old weightlifter Caine Wilkes’ surprising bid to qualify for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

  • Squat University’s guide to bench press without shoulder pain.

  • 6 ways to build your legs without the barbell back squat.


An American Weightlifter in Paris?

Credit: William Johnson / @barbellstories

Weightlifting can be a lonely sport, and chasing the dream of Olympic-level competition can all come crashing down with a thud at a moment’s notice.

Such a thud is what happened to longtime American weightlifter Caine Wilkes. After a ninth-place finish at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, he thought he was ready to hang up the singlet and chalk bowl. But having a reputation as a top-notch competitor may have paid off one more time for Wilkes.

When USA Weightlifting needed an alternate for a major event at the end of February 2023, the door opened up for Wilkes to come back to international competition. And now, after a strong performance at the Pan Ams earlier in the year, he finds himself at the 2023 World Weightlifting Championships with a potential spot at the 2024 Olympics still within reach.

Whether or not he finds himself competing in Paris next year, Wilkes’ final act in the sport is something to behold.

Exercise Tips

Every Day Is Bench Day

Credit: Hryshchyshen Serhii / Shutterstock

Last week, Squat University’s professors took a break from swishing around beakers filled with liquid hip-hinging solution to instead focus on a subject that is (unfortunately) close to most of us: Shoulder pain during the bench press.

It is no longer the 1980s (sad for some, really sad for others), so everyone should understand that you can do real damage to your shoulders if you spend 90% of your time in the gym bench pressing. The shoulder is the most complex joint in the body, and driving force through it in a repetitive, single, fixed plane will lead to pain and injury unless specific attention is paid to your health.

Squat University has devised a series of five exercises to help open your shoulders up to strengthen and stabilize the antagonistic muscles used in the bench press. The movements are likely harder than you realize, and the next time you bench, you will understand how much you need them.


Any Excuse Not to Squat

Credit: SOK Studio / Shutterstock

The barbell back squat may be the king of all lower-body exercises, but sometimes the dutchesses, viceroys, and doges need to have their days as well.

Nobody is saying you need to ditch the barbell squat; you’re not getting off that easy. However, there are several other options for lower-body pain and gain that you may be glossing over for the more staid approach.

These moves will hit a bit differently and may not have the same technical exactitude required when squatting heavy weight. Still, it’s a wide world out there for leg exercises, so go out and explore these six alternatives.

Everything Else

Advanced Forearm Technology

Credit: @okkultmotionpictures / Giphy

  • Get your lagging forearms up to snuff with the help of barbell wrist curls. Here’s a full rundown to help you do it right.

  • The popular trends of homesteading and DIY don’t end with living room renovations and canning prunes. You can also buy raw ingredients and whip up your own pre-workout at home, saving you money on pricey supplements and giving you peace of mind knowing exactly what you are putting into your body.

  • After a period of weight loss, you may want to slowly get your nutritional intake back to maintenance levels or slightly above, without gaining a whole bunch of fat in the process. This is known as “reverse dieting,” and we’ve got a guide to help you set up this cycle effectively.