I injured my rotator cuff muscles on my shoulder, due to over intensity while bench pressing.

The pain has now mostly subsided, so I've started rehabilitating it with rotator cuff exercises and was wondering what is the ideal frequency in which should undertake this regime, without over doing it again?

  • You should be overhead pressing (to lock out, standing) at least as often as you are bench pressing. I think as you're noticing, if you get back to where you were, you'll be a prime candidate to injure yourself again. Maybe make a strength goal of doing a standing overhead barbell press (no bar-behind-the-neck stuff) of your bodyweight. That's a legit goal.
    – Eric
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 1:20
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    I also recommend Alan Thrall's video on benching. You don't have to lift like a powerlifter, but learning to retract the scapula and get your shoulders in the right position will help a lot with the shoulders. Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 4:59
  • @EricKaufman I undertake a variation of the 5x5 stronglifts program, so already do proper overhead presses, I think my problem was incorrect form with little rest period.
    – Tarius
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 8:12
  • @EricGunnerson That video was great, really helped in realising what I was doing wrong in so many components of the bench press.
    – Tarius
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 8:13

2 Answers 2


What I learned from having shoulder impingement in both of my shoulders at the same time:

1) Face Pulls: Probably one of the best things you can do for your shoulders. A great exercise for strengthening both your rear delts and the external rotators of your shoulder. It also works very well for rehabbing and prehabbing your shoulders.

2) Rows: Add some form of row to every session and match or exceed the pressing volume with your rows. I went from doing only Pendlay rows and bent over rows once or twice per week to rowing at least 6 times per week (out of 4 sessions per week). Not only is it bringing up my neglected back, but it's making it more natural for me to keep my back in a powerful position while pressing.

3) Dynamic stretching: Between every set of pressing movements (overhead, on a bench, with dumbbells or a barbell, doesn't matter), I do either band pull-aparts, or shoulder dislocates, sometimes both. Both of these help both loosen up a tight shoulder, stretch the pecs, and promote retracted scapulas.

This all has shown me that the shoulder (at least mine) responds well to high frequency training / rehabbing. In the case of only rehabbing exercises, since the intensity will be very low, it should be safe do them at the beginning or end of most or all of your training sessions.

  • Thanks for the answer, very helpful. However how frequently did you perform these exercises - e.g. once a day or every two days?
    – Tarius
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 8:02
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    My current routine is done on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I start every session with face pulls for 4-6 sets of 8-12 reps. I generally have both a horizontal and vertical press in each, so I balance those with 2-3 horizontal pulls (Pendlay rows, t-bar, one-arm dumbbell rows, etc), and at least one vertical pull (pull-up [any variation], lat pulldown, etc). I also make sure one of the horizontal pulls targets my rear delts specifically (more face pulls, dumbbell delt rows, wide grip cable rows, etc). Either way, I do this high volume pulling in every workout.
    – Alex L
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 8:09
  • Ah okay thanks, another quick question. How long have you been doing this routine for and how much has your shoulders improved in that time?
    – Tarius
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 8:49
  • I have only been doing this specific routine for about 2 weeks, but I've been applying these ideas to my training since shortly after hurting both shoulders in the beginning of April. It took nearly two months before I felt comfortable with pressing overhead again, which I went back to by starting very lightly (20 lbs for >15 reps). I reintroduced horizontal pressing with floor presses, but only recently (June 24), have I actually gone back to bench pressing (although I did have some light sets incline dumbbell bench in the beginning of June to see how they felt). So far everything is good.
    – Alex L
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 13:28

I had similar problems, my physiotherapist instructed me to do my (light) rehab exercises 15*2 reps, each day.

  • What were those rehab exercises? Internal and external rotations standing? Please this is a very interesting question.
    – Mephisto
    Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 22:55
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    Yes, exactly, with one of those colorful rubber stretch tubes. Also one exercise where I held my hands low with ~3 dm distance to eachother in front of me, raising both hands like a two-hand-hitler-salute, with the tube stretched between them, pulling outwards. Interestingly, raising them like this was completely pain-free, while raising them without the tube was painful.
    – Mårten
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 6:15

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