Bench Press Elbow Pain: Avoid Lifter’s Elbow With These Modifications



For many fitness enthusiasts, the bench press is a staple exercise in their workout routine. It is an excellent compound movement that targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps. However, one common issue that can arise from bench pressing is elbow pain, commonly known as lifter’s elbow. This discomfort can be frustrating and hinder your progress. In this article, we will explore some modifications you can make to your bench press technique to help alleviate and prevent elbow pain.

1. Warm-up and Stretching

Before starting any exercise, it is crucial to warm up properly. This helps to increase blood flow to the muscles and prepares them for the upcoming workout. Additionally, incorporating stretching exercises specific to the chest, shoulders, and triceps can help to improve flexibility and reduce the risk of injury.

2. Grip and Hand Position

The way you grip the bar and position your hands can have a significant impact on the stress placed on your elbows. Consider using a grip that is slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. This grip allows for a more natural movement pattern and reduces the strain on the elbows. Additionally, experiment with different hand positions, such as a neutral grip or using dumbbells, to find what feels most comfortable for you.

3. Elbow Placement

Proper elbow placement is crucial to avoid unnecessary strain on the joints. When performing the bench press, aim to keep your elbows at a 45-degree angle to your body. This position helps to distribute the load more evenly and reduces the stress on the elbows. Avoid flaring your elbows out to the sides, as this can put excessive pressure on the joint and lead to discomfort.

4. Range of Motion

While it may be tempting to lower the bar all the way down to your chest, this can sometimes exacerbate elbow pain. Instead, focus on using a controlled range of motion that allows you to maintain proper form and avoid excessive strain on the elbows. Lower the bar until your upper arms are parallel to the floor, then press it back up. This modified range of motion can help to alleviate stress on the elbows.

5. Strengthen Supporting Muscles

Weakness or imbalances in the supporting muscles can contribute to elbow pain during bench pressing. It is essential to incorporate exercises that target the muscles of the rotator cuff, such as external rotations and face pulls, into your training routine. Strengthening these muscles can help to stabilize the shoulder joint and reduce the strain on the elbows.

6. Gradual Progression

One common mistake that can lead to elbow pain is trying to lift too much weight too soon. It is crucial to gradually increase the weight you lift to allow your body to adapt and strengthen over time. Pushing yourself too hard can put excessive stress on the elbows and increase the risk of injury. Listen to your body and progress at a pace that feels comfortable for you.


Bench press elbow pain can be a frustrating setback for anyone looking to improve their strength and fitness. By incorporating these modifications into your bench press routine, you can help alleviate and prevent lifter’s elbow. Remember to warm up properly, focus on grip and hand position, maintain proper elbow placement, use a controlled range of motion, strengthen supporting muscles, and progress gradually. With these adjustments, you can continue to enjoy the benefits of the bench press while minimizing the risk of elbow pain.

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