An Olympic weightlifter said he doesn't bench press because the exercise restricts his shoulder mobility

An Olympic weightlifter said he doesn't bench press because the exercise restricts his shoulder mobility
Lü Xiaojun competing at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Getty/Visual China Group
  • Chinese weightlifter Lü Xiaojun is an Olympic gold medallist and five-time world champion.
  • He avoids training bench press to ensure he doesn't restrict his shoulder mobility, he said.
  • The bench press is still a beneficial compound movement for strength and muscle building.

Champion weightlifter Lü Xiaojun said he rarely trains bench press.

Although bench is considered to be one of the key compound movements (alongside the likes of deadlifts and squats) - and a favorite exercise for many gym-goers - the Chinese Olympian avoids it.

The reason is that it restricts his shoulder mobility, he said in a recent YouTube video.


Xiaojun said bench press, strict press, and push press are his weakest lifts, and he doesn't train them often.

Competitive weightlifters, he said, should avoid bench press "because it will restrict your shoulder mobility."

According to Mike Matthews of Legion Athletics, incorrect bench press form, or focusing too much on the chest without also training the back, can indeed lead to shoulder problems, and trainer Sean De Wispelaere told Men's Health that bad form is usually the cause of issues.


Having good mobility in the shoulders is crucial for overhead movements in weightlifting as a sport.

Xiaojun said that some people find it difficult to lock out their shoulders when performing chest press movements.

"Even worse, if you form a habit. It's not a good habit. I recommend not training it," he said.


However, Xiaojun, who weighs 81kg (179lbs), said he can still bench around 130kg (287lbs).

Bench press is still a beneficial exercise

Despite Xiaojun's experience as a professional athlete, the bench press is still a beneficial movement, particularly for people who want to build muscle or burn fat.

The UK's fittest man Zack George told Insider in 2020 that he considers bench press to be one of the five best exercises for building muscle.


As a compound exercise, it recruits multiple muscle groups at once, mainly targeting the shoulders, triceps, and pecs.

"Recruiting multiple muscle groups in this way makes these movements more effective at building muscle as you work more muscles and multiple joints through large ranges of motion, which enables you to move more weight than in isolation exercises, and better progressively overload your muscles for big gains," George said.