5 Things You Should Never Do During Shoulder Workouts

chest supported rear delt row

The Do’s And Dont’s of Shoulder Workouts

Broad shoulders have been a sign of manliness and strength for centuries. Whether they’re broad or bearing the weight of the world – it seems like strong shoulders are necessary for a good foundation. So it’s no mystery that builders and laymen alike are on the constant search of the perfect pair. With so many builders wanting to see results in a short amount of time, sometimes the details of certain exercises get left out. When details are left out mistakes are made, when mistakes are made in the weight room, hospital bills go up…get my drift.

But you don’t have to go that route. We’ve comprised the top 5 mistakes we commonly see during shoulder training as well as providing some solutions. Are you a perpetrator? Read on to find out.

shoulder mobility

Going too heavy

Your body gets out of position and you do things like arching your back to compensate. Besides recruiting other muscles that should not be a part of the exercise (thus taking away from your gains); being out of position can lead to major injuries including a herniated disc.

When you’re doing exercises like the the overhead press utilize the right dumbbells (a personal favorite) to make sure that you’re fully under the weight and that your abs and back muscles are firm to give you that neutral spine. A slight curve in your back is fine but when you feel yourself getting out of position you should think about going down in weight.

Another common exercise that people often apply too much weight is the Behind the neck Barbell press. At the bottom part of this exercise your shoulders are at their weakest point, trying to lift a massive mount of weight in such a vulnerable position can leave you susceptible to joint and muscle tears. If we’ve learned anything from crossfit (a bit of an oxymoron I know) it’s that heavy weights and bad position can make you into an internet star…but not in a good way.

Solution: If you’re sitting down, make sure your back is flat against the bench. If you’re standing up, be sure to monitor your back position and keep it as straight as possible. If this still isn’t helping – you might want to think about going down in weight.

Never Sacrifice Range of Motion

Do you think bodybuilders like Kai Greene and Fred Biggie Smalls got to be 220+ lbs of raw muscle while still pulling of dance routines that would make the average break dancer think twice by sacrificing their range of motion? We didn’t think so. Any serious bodybuilder knows that being flexible is just as important as being swole. Range of motion also adds definition to the small muscles that do slight movements which can set you apart during a competition.

Many trainers terminate single-joint movements like lateral raises and front raises when they hit roughly shoulder height. The problem with this is that the middle and anterior delts haven’t reached the ends of their range of motion, limiting the muscles and parts of the muscle being effected.

Solution: Try taking these movements even higher, as the muscles are still contracting. Some experts suggest you can go as far as 45 degrees past the horizontal plane. You can still do limited range exercises for bigger muscle groups but try incorporating smaller weight, larger range of motion exercises into your shoulder workout.

shoulder mobility

Lack of Exercise Variety

Most of your current shoulder exercises are about as stimulating to your muscles as that statement to your nervous system. We know that shoulders are probably the only muscle group you’re using just free weights or a barbell for but that doesn’t mean you have to be stuck in rut.  We’ve provided some minor adjustments that can create a big change as well as some new exercises below.

SolutionThe devil is in the details. Revamp your routine by trying things like changing hand position or grip. On dumbbell exercises, like side laterals, try using cables, or a machine, or going unilateral.

Alternate exercises: underhand presses (press a barbell over-head with a shoulder-width underhand grip); Arnold presses (press dumbbells from underhand at the bottom to overhand at the top); and rack military presses (press each rep from a dead stop off of power-rack supports set at chin level).

Saving The Rear Delts For Last

A common but understandable mistake, leaving the rear delts for last can cause asymmetry and rotator cuff problems down the road. We say it’s understandable because your delts are comprised of three parts, the front the middle and the rear. For most people it would make sense to train them in that order, and to be honest it’s not necessarily the order but not changing up the order that causes havoc.

When you save the rear delts for last you’re usually at the lowest energy point which means they don’t get the attention they deserve. After a while this can cause your shoulders to pull forward giving you a slouched, lazy appearance.

Solution: Try training doing single-joint moves for your rear delts right after your press, when your energy level is at it’s highest. In truth, the key here is rotation. Leaving any area for last all the time will probably result in decreased size and strength and possible and as a result of that possible injury.

Neglecting Your Rotator Cuffs

This one seems like common sense yet many builders are still doing it. We know training things that you can’t see isn’t the sexiest thing for bodybuilders, but what if we told you that these 4 strap muscles work in conjunction with your delts to help stabilize the shoulder and prevent injury? Not training your cuffs can cause muscles to become imbalanced and lead to potential injury.

Solution: Try doing the internal and external exercises provided below to help strengthen your rotator cuffs.

  1. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and lie on the floor on your left side.

  2. Bend your right elbow to a 90-degree angle and tuck it firmly against your side so that your palm is facing downward.

  3. Pull your abdominals in.

  4. Bend your left elbow and rest the side of your head in your left hand.

  5. Keeping your right elbow glued to your side, raise your right hand as far as you comfortably can.

  6. Slowly lower the weight back toward the floor. (This exercise is external rotation.)

  7. After you complete all the repetitions, switch the weight to your left hand and lie on your back.

    You can also do this exercise lying on one side on the bench, with your forearm hanging off the bench.

  8. Bend your elbow so your forearm is perpendicular to the floor and your palm is facing in.

  9. Lower your hand down and out to the side as far as you can, and then lift the weight back up. (This exercise is internal rotation.)

What do yo think of these common mistakes, have you seen anyone committing these in the gym? Have you committed these yourself? And most importantly, has this article has helped? Share your opinion below.

Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.