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By John Litteral 12-18-22

I have been experiencing my biceps aching while training my chest, especially while doing the flat and incline bench presses. The aching is very uncomfortable, though not necessarily hindering. I was puzzled by what could have been the cause of it. I assumed that I was probably overtraining my biceps because my training split calls for some very intense workouts that put a significant amount of strain on the biceps. I only train each body part once a week, but I do deadlifts one day, and then an intense back workout on another, and then arms on another day. I was beginning to think that the deadlifts were the culprit that was causing the aching in my biceps while doing the chest presses. But thanks to lifting expert Andy Baker, I learned that the aching was coming from an exercise that I was least expecting. That is the low-bar squat. Andy wrote an article on his blog very recently, and this is what he said about what is probably causing the aching…

99% of the time this condition is not CAUSED by Benching.  It’s caused by Low-Bar Squatting. It just reveals itself on the Bench Press. One thing that helps in this situation is to avoid Bench Pressing after Low-Bar Squatting.  Especially in the same workout, but even the next day. If you currently Bench Press immediately after Squatting then reverse that order – Bench first and then Squat. If you currently Bench Press the day after Squatting, then reverse that order – Bench the day before you Squat.1

Ever since I had reversed the order, the aching has not come back while doing the bench press movements. I can now see why the low-bar squat would cause that to happen, because the position of the arms while doing the low-bar squat does put a significant amount of stress on the biceps. Andy also shared some other expertise about more solutions if changing the order of your low-bar squats and the bench presses doesn’t solve the problem…

Second – you might need to temporarily (or sometimes permanently) change your Squatting style.

In order of preference:

  1. Safety Squat Bar
  2. High Bar Squat
  3. Front Squat

While you are still getting pain in the biceps – stop low bar squatting.

Third – warm up better before Benching and Squatting. Inflammation – which is what this is – responds well to very thorough warm ups.  Flush the area with blood.  Light Pulldowns are good.  Light barbell, dumbbell, and hammer curls are good.  Even some light tricep pressdowns work to get blood into the surrounding area. Then do more than normal sets/reps with the empty barbell and with your first couple of weighted warm up sets. Doing a set of 5 reps with 45 lbs isn’t really a warm up.  20-50 total reps with 45 lbs, then maybe 10-15 reps with 95 lbs and another 10-15 reps with 135 lbs might be a good starting point (depends on level of absolute strength of course).

Fourth – close your grip on Bench Press for the next few workouts. Yes, you will need to adjust load to do a close grip Bench Press.   If this still hurts, I’d suggest just not Bench Pressing for 4-5 days will you do the fifth step.

Fifth, and probably most important, treat with anti-inflammatories. I prefer high dose for short period of time.  I usually recommend about 2400mg Ibuprofen per day for 4 days for this sort of thing.  That is 800mg x 3 times per day, evenly spread out.1


1 Andy Baker,

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