5 Causes of Upper Back Pain After a Chest Workout

The most common causes of upper back pain following a chest workout are:

  • Incorrect form during bench press and other chest exercises.
  • Arching your back while performing chest exercises.
  • Allowing your shoulders to round during chest exercises.
  • Lifting more weight than you’re ready for.
  • Not properly controlling the weight throughout the exercise.

Each of these bad habits can cause injury to your upper back. In order to prevent back injury, make sure to study good form and correct poor posture. This will increase your performance and keep you safe throughout your workout.

Upper back pain after chest workout

Is It Normal For Your Upper Back to Hurt After Working Out Chest?

It is not uncommon to experience Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) in your upper back the day after a chest workout. This soreness usually takes the form of muscle tightness and a slight burn in your upper back. However, severe, sharp, aching, or stabbing pain in your upper back is not normal after a chest workout.

  • It is common to feel muscle soreness in your upper back following a chest workout.
  • Upper back pain that is not associated with muscle soreness, such as stabbing pains or muscle spasms, are not normal after a chest workout.
  • See a doctor if you are experiencing abnormal upper back pain that lasts for more than 3–4 days.

If you are experiencing upper back pain after a chest workout and it is not routine muscle soreness, rethink your exercise form. Additionally, if you have pain in your thoracic spine (the vertebrae of your upper back), experience muscle spasms, or have pain that does not diminish after 3–4 days, consult a doctor. You may be suffering from a workout-induced injury.

Can Bench Press Hurt Your Upper Back?

Performing bench press improperly can put your upper back at risk of injury. Incorrect bench press form also puts your shoulder muscles and shoulder joint at risk. Although the bench press is meant to primarily target your chest muscles, it recruits muscles throughout the body. Proper form protects all of these muscle groups.

  • Performing bench press incorrectly risks injury to your upper back.
  • Take the time to learn and practice correct bench press form to keep yourself safe.
  • If you bench with correct form, you will drastically decrease your risk of injury.

Any time you are learning a new exercise, take the time to study the movement and watch expert tutorials before attempting a new lift. Lifting heavy objects takes time and training. With proper form, the bench press poses very little risk of injury to your upper back and the rest of your body.

Why Does Your Upper Back Hurt After a Chest Workout? [5 Reasons]

If you’re experiencing upper back pain after chest workouts, take the following steps to eliminate that pain and get a great chest workout. Here are the top reasons your upper back is crying out in pain after a chest workout.

Poor Form

Improper form on the bench press, chest flyes, and other chest-focused exercises can put a strain on the upper back. In order to prevent injuring your back, practice proper form for every exercise. Remember, bench press requires a neutral back arch, firmly planted feet, and retracted shoulder blades.

Fix: Watch in-depth tutorials on proper exercise form.

Arching Your Back

If you arch your back too much during different types of bench press or other chest exercises, you can seriously injure your upper or lower back. Arching your back more than is natural shifts your entire posture. The strain of bearing the loaded barbell will land on your spine and upper back instead of your chest muscles.

Fix: Keep a neutral arch in your back during chest exercises. Your lower back should have the same arch you would have while standing up with good posture.

Rounding Your Shoulders

Rounding your upper back by allowing your shoulder blades to come forward puts a large amount of strain on your back. Without your shoulder blades in a proper position to balance the weight, your upper spine will bear the brunt of whatever weight you’re moving.

Fix: Keep your shoulder blades back and down throughout each rep of every chest exercise.

Lifting Too Much Weight

A common lifting mistake is to do too much too soon. Lifting more weight than you’re able to move with good form causes you to fall into bad habits. You’re more likely to overarch your back or round your shoulders if you’re struggling to manage the weight on the bar. Work on advancing your weight steadily, lifting only what you can move while maintaining the correct form.

Fix: Reduce the weight of all your upper body exercises by 25%. Focus on form as you gradually increase the weight again.

Not Controlling the Weight

Allowing the barbell to drop down to your chest during bench press, not controlling dumbbells as they move downward during flyes, and opening your arms quickly during cable extensions are all causes of upper back injury. “Dropping” a weight during the downward or “eccentric” movement of an exercise can cause muscle pulls. It also results in a less effective workout and fewer strength gains.

Fix: Move slowly during the downward or “opening” movement of a chest exercise. Count to 3 during the downward movement to train yourself to control the weight at all times.

Why Does Your Back Hurt After Your Chest Workout?

Commonly, the cause of upper back pain after a chest workout is due to improper form during chest exercises. Make sure to keep your back at a neutral arch during the bench press. You should also pull your shoulder back and down during chest exercises. In order to eliminate upper back pain, reduce the weight of your exercises and focus on performing them with slow, controlled movements throughout the exercise. If you are still experiencing nagging back pain after implementing these fixes, schedule a visit with your doctor for injury evaluation.