Last updated on November 12th, 2022 at 03:06 pm
It sounds really weird to even say, “Why Does My Back Bruise When I Bench Press?”
I mean, you wouldn’t typically expect to get bruises without something coming into contact with the body.
Plus, bruising on your back from bench pressing just doesn’t seem right.
So, is this a cause for concern?
Are you benching incorrectly?
Allow me to explain the various reasons you may experience bruises on your back from bench press.
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Back Bruise From Bench Press
It’s actually fairly common to experience back bruising when you bench press. In effect, due to the additional weight, your back is literally being forced into the bench. This creates a lot of pressure and can lead to burst blood vessels, typically the capillaries. This usually isn’t anything to worry about, as your body will eventually adapt. With that being said, the condition and width of the bench you use could be causing this. Plus, a lack of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and iron in your diet can leave you more susceptible to bruising.
Burst Blood Vessels – A Common Occurrence
Firstly, I will say that experiencing back bruises from bench press in the vast majority of cases is nothing to worry about.
In fact, it’s a fairly common occurrence, which many of us never even notice, as the bruises are actually behind us.
Now, you may think that bruises only ever happen when you receive a blow or take a fall.
However, if you think about it, you are applying a great deal of pressure to the back whenever you bench press.
Obviously you lie down on a bench and then hold a weight that is perhaps equal or above your own body weight.
So, in effect, you are literally forcing your back into the bench.
With so much pressure being applied you may even burst a blood vessel.
And this will usually be the smallest of the blood vessels, namely the capillaries.
This will often happen when you apply pressure to the skin, much the same as many people experience shoulder bruises whenever they barbell squat.
As long as you’re not in any pain, this shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
In fact, it’s a normal part of training and working out.
What is the Bench Like?
Something else to consider is the actual bench that you’re using.
Let’s face facts, not all gym benches were created equal.
Obviously all benches will have a certain amount of padding.
But, there is still pressure being applied between your body and the bench with the addition of a heavy load.
In fact, have you ever checked your butt for bruises when performing heavy seated overhead presses, LOL?
However, I’m sure you’ve come across a bench that has seen better days, and one that probably doesn’t provide as much “protection” as it should.
Furthermore, there is no strict standard for the width of a bench.
In fact, a bench could be anywhere from 10-20 inches wide, with most commercial gym benches being on the lower end of the scale.
So, in effect, you could actually be benching with your lats poking out either side of the bench, and therefore not being fully supported.
You should be able to tell if a bench width isn’t quite right for your stature, as in addition to your back bruises you’ll probably notice lines on your skin too.
Are You Retracting Your Shoulder Blades?
Now, I’m not saying that this will stop back bruises, but one of the main bench pressing cues is to retract your shoulder blades.
Therefore, you should pull your shoulder blades back and down as you lay down on the bench.
What this does is to give you a stable base, plus it raises your torso slightly as well.
This is perfect if you bench press in the power rack, as if you “fail” you can literally drop the bar and not worry about struggling to get out.
Okay, I did mention that this may not completely eliminate back bruises when you bench.
However, you will in effect have less back surface area in contact with the bench when you retract your shoulder blades.
So, rather than your entire back being forced into the bench, it is just the back of your shoulder blades.
Yes, I understand that your rear shoulder blades may still suffer from bruising.
But, as I’ve mentioned, as long as this isn’t causing any pain or discomfort, then you’re good to go.
Plus, don’t forget that retracting your shoulder blades will lead to a safer and more efficient bench press.
Are You New to Benching?
Now, I spoke earlier of your body eventually “adapting” to the stresses and strains of weight training.
And this is especially true if you are new to the bench press, and even to lifting weights in general.
So, you’ll undoubtedly pick up a few scrapes and “badges of honour” along the way.
I guess the most obvious of these will be calluses on your hands, but there are plenty more things that you’ll notice.
I’ve already mentioned the shoulder bruises that come from having a loaded barbell on your back from squatting.
Plus, we’ve all probably picked up a few scrapes on the shins from deadlifts.
And you can now add back bruises from bench pressing to the list.
Basically, your body isn’t used to the various stresses and strains of working out with weights.
However, as I say, you will eventually adapt.
Do You Have a Vitamin Deficiency?
There is a final reason for you getting bruises on your back from bench pressing.
In fact, this could be a reason for many other unexplained bruises, whether you’re working out or not.
Mysterious bruises can often be credited to a lack of vitamins and nutrients in your diet.
So, this is definitely something you should be wary of.
Plus, if you are exercising regularly then a healthy well-balanced diet is a must if you want to progress.
And this goes for whether you want to lose weight and body fat, increase strength, or build muscle.
This typically comes down to a lack of Vitamin C, which helps to form collagen.
Collagen is a protective protein throughout the body, although it is in far higher quantities in the tissues, bones, and the skin.
Next we have Vitamin K, which helps to make 4 of the essential 13 proteins required for blood clotting.
And it is this that stops wounds from continuously bleeding and allows them to heal (remember burst capillaries?)
Finally, there is iron, which produces red blood cells.
And it is the red blood cells that transport oxygen to the tissues and then exchanges it for carbon dioxide.
So, if you find that you bruise fairly easily, whether in the gym or otherwise, it’s probably time to take a closer look at your diet.
6 Reasons You Bruise So Easily
So, I hope you understand that it’s actually a fairly common occurrence for your back to bruise when you bench press.
This can often be due to burst capillaries simply because you are forcing your back into the bench and placing a lot of pressure on it.
As long as you don’t feel any pain or discomfort, this is nothing to worry about, and you will eventually adapt to this.
Back bruising can also be caused by the actual bench you’re using, especially if it is old and worn.
Then again, if the bench is fairly narrow then you may also notice line marks as well as bruising on your back.
Don’t forget that you should also always retract your shoulder blades when you bench press.
And not doing so could be the reason for your bruises.
Finally, a vitamin or nutrient deficiency could be the cause of unexpected bruises, whether in the gym or anywhere else.
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Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.