Do Vertical Pressing Before Horizontal Pressing
. If you are going to do some form of military press and some form of bench press in the same workout try doing the overhead work first. I have found this to be a great way to avoid pain and strengthen your shoulders. I cant explain exactly why but the overhead work just seems to prepare you better for the bench pressing variations. I have had numerous people try this (many of whom had pain with any form of benching with a bar or dumbbells) and the
Begin the First Rep of Any Set of Military Presses with a Slight Leg Drive
. You dont have to turn the whole set into push presses but you do want to use a slight leg drive to at least get the very first rep moving. The reason for that is because pressing the bar off your front delts from a dead stop with no momentum can be very stressful. Its the most stressful part of the entire rep. Unless you are competing in some kind of strict pressing contest Id recommend using the leg drive. If you have preexisting shoulder injuri
At the End of Each Set of Military Presses You Do Hold the Bar in the Top Position
. This is sometimes referred to as structural integrity work and can help strengthen, stabilize and bulletproof the shoulders. I recommend holding the bar up there at lockout (the joints are meant to lock and support load so forget about that myth that you should never lock out) for three to five seconds. On the last set of the day you could hold it up there for ten seconds or longer.
Use a Swiss Bar Instead of Straight Bar for Horizontal Pressing
. The Swiss bar allows you to press with your palms facing in towards each other which is far more natural and a lot safer. If you train at home or some type of small warehouse gym I highly recommend ordering. I would ALWAYS make that my bar of choice if I were ever to bench press again.
Swap Out Bench Presses For Low Incline Presses
. Most regular readers know by now that Im not a huge fan of the flat bench press. But I do like having big barbell movements in the program as indicator lifts. The low inline press, with the bench set to somewhere between fifteen and thirty degrees was a favorite chest exercise of six time Mr. Olympia, Dorian Yates. This variation hits the pecs more effectively and is less stressful on the shoulder. Even better is the low incline press with the Sw
Never Bench Press With a Wide Grip
. In powerlifting its known that using a wider grip reduces the range of motion and thus, theoretically you should be able to press more weight. The downside is that the wide grip puts your shoulders through hell so you should really consider avoiding it and only benching with a close to medium grip width. The widest I would ever recommend is pinkies in the rings and even closer than that for most people. You have to think long term and remember th
Always Keep Your Shoulder Blades Fully Squeezed Together During Horizontal Pressing Movements
. Whenever you are lying on your back and pressing a bar or dumbbells you want to maintain a very tight, bunched up feeling in your upper back and never allow your shoulder blades to come apart. This keeps the shoulders in a much stronger and safer position.
Do Dips on Gymnastics Rings Instead of Parallel Bars
. Unlike the bars which keep you in more of a fixed plane, the rings allow you to move naturally and you can work around the pain.If I could only do one upper body pressing exercise to build and strengthen the chest, shoulders and triceps this would probably be it.Thats not to say that dips on parallel bars arent great, because they are. But if you cant do them due to injury this could be a better option for you.
Eliminate the Eccentric Component of Olympic Lifts by Dropping the Bar
. Olympic lifting variations can be hard on those with shoulder injuries mainly because of the stress that comes from lowering a heavy load so rapidly. If you do high pulls with a lot of weight it can yank away pretty good at those shoulders on the way down, no matter how good your technique is. The simple solution is to simply do singles and drop the bar between each rep.
Use a Sled for Explosive Pulls Instead
. Louie Simmons turned me onto sled work back in the 90s and I have found it to be an invaluable asset in the training of clients ever since. A great way to use the sled is to replace barbell Olympic lifts with explosive sled pulls.Simply hook up a pair of TRX straps to the sled, get in the same position you would be to start a high pull (except that your hands will be out in front of you holding the straps instead of by your knees holding the bar)
Dont Do Excessively Heavy Weighted Chin Ups
. Each year I get more and more down on heavy, weighted chins. They just seem to lead to too many injuries and shoulder problems. In the past Id had guys do weighted chins for three reps. Nowadays I would never go below a 6RM weight on weighted chins in most cases simply because the injury risk is too high. Theres just too much stress on the shoulder when youre hanging from the bar with a bunch of plates around your waist.And from a hypertrophy per
Dont Go Excessively Heavy On Rowing Exercises
. All the same things that apply to heavy chins apply to heavy rows, although I think the heavy rows are slightly less dangerous and would be more likely to increase loading on those before chin ups. Over time, however, you will find that a lot really heavy low rep rowing starts to yank away at that shoulder pretty good and can lead to long term damage. Again, best to keep the weights a little lighter and the reps a little higher on these types of
Do Band Pull Aparts
. Simply grab a medium strength band hold it out in front of you and try to rip it apart. Pull it out all the way so that your arms are straight out to your sides (while maintaining a very slight bend in them throughout) like a T and squeeze your shoulder blades together for 30 60 seconds. Hitting a few sets of these to strengthen your upper back and prevent injuries is a great way to finish off your upper body day. Heck, they take so little out o
Dont Squat With a Low Bar Placement
. Low bar squats are great because of certain mechanical advantages they give you. They also put the shoulder under a hell of a lot more stress than high bar squatting does. Stick with high bar squatting or find a comfortable happy medium. But never use an extreme low bar position if you have shoulder problems or want to avoid them in the future.
Do Kettlebell Snatches
. As Ive mentioned in the past, I dont think that doing millions of reps per week on this exercise is a good idea as some diehard kettlebell enthusiasts do. But doing a more tolerable number like a few sets of 10 20 reps a couple days per week can be a great shoulder strengthener and help prevent against future injuries.
Do More Pushups
. Pushups are still one of my top ten favorite exercises and always will be. They are also significantly better for your shoulders than any other form of horizontal pressing with a bar or dumbbells. Pushups are highly underrated because people dont know how to load them properly or do advanced variations.For loading you can get a weighted vest, chains, a Power Pushup (which is awesome) or even have a partner hold weight plates on your back. A great
Do Kettlebell Turkish Get Ups
. If you could only do one rehab/prehab/shoulder stabilization exercise this would probably have to be it, in my opinion. Make them a regular part of your routine and your shoulders will feel better.
Practice Handstand Holds
. This is very similar to the concept of holding the barbell overhead only in this case you are holding your own bodyweight which increases neuromuscular activation and makes it significantly more effective. I recommend kicking up into a handstand against the wall at the end of each upper body workout and holding it for as long as possible.When you get good at that try removing the wall. This is great for shoulder stabilization.
Walk on Your Hands
. Once you get comfortable with handstands start walking laterally along the wall with your feet still in contact with it. Eventually, once you master your handstands you can start walking without the wall. In the meantime, slap a Power Wheel on your feet and walk up and down the gym floor or across a field. A great goal to shoot for is being able to walk 100 yards on your hands. You can make hand walking even more challenging by doing Alligator pu
Dont go Excessively Heavy On Curls
. Heavy barbell or dumbbell curls can place a lot of stress on the biceps tendon and lead to shoulder issues. For this reason I rarely recommend curls below six reps. With more advanced trainees I always keep curls in the 10 15 rep range.Heavy curls can beat your shoulders up a lot worse than you might think. I recommend avoiding them.
Initiate Each Rep on Curls With a Slight Cheat
. Just like the bottom position of the military press, the bottom position of a curl is very stressful to the shoulder. I recommend hitching at the waist and leaning slightly forward then extending your hips and cheating the weight the first couple inches out of the bottom.This doesnt mean you heave the weight up and get sloppy. Quite the contrary. Just use the momentum to initiate the movement and then keep maximal tension on the biceps throughout
Dont do Curls on the Same Day You Do Heavy Pressing
. After a heavy pressing workout the shoulders may be pretty trashed. If you stress them even more with heavy curls the biceps tendon may start acting up and giving you problems. I have found in a large majority of cases where guys where getting shoulder pain from doing curls, that if we moved it to another day or didnt do the curls after heavy pressing the problem started to dissipate. If you have no shoulder issues this probably wont be a problem
Dont do Incline Curls at an Angle Any Lower Than 60 Degrees
. Incline curls are great for training the biceps from a stretched position, but they also stretch the ligaments as well as the muscles. If you have shoulder issues make sure to keep the bench set no lower than 60 degrees.Stay tuned for part 3. In the meantime do me a favor and hit the Like button below if you enjoyed this post and please leave me any comments or questions you may have.
Work your way up to heavy weights
. A big mistake that I see a lot of gym members make is going straight to the heaviest weight they can lift for the prescribed number of reps from the very first set. They dont warm up to the heavy sets properly.This can be a big issue for two reasons. Firstly it doesnt allow your muscles to switch on properly in order to be ready for the heavier weight. Secondly, lighter weight work up sets allow you to build good technique into your movements, w
Check your overhead position
. Did you know that if you dont have enough flexibility to do overhead pressing properly you can compromise your shoulder health? Actually I have found that most people lack the thoracic mobility to raise their arms straight overhead without compensation.Try this little experiment with me. I want you to hunch over your shoulders and purposely create bad, slouched over posture. Now, while youre in that position, try to lift your arms straight up abo
Include more horizontal pulling movements in your training
. If you have a history of shoulders troubles or if you are someone who sits at a desk or computer all day then, try adding 3 times as much horizontal pulling or rowing movements (things like seated rows, band rows, cable rows) into your training program than horizontal pressing movements (bench pressing etc.)Having hunched over shoulders often causes a strength imbalance around the shoulder girdle. When you are sitting in that position most of the
Know Your Limits
. This seems like a fairly obvious thing to keep in mind but somehow the ego takes over and makes us forget our limits. There is nothing wrong with testing your strength but do so reasonable and responsibly. Ive seen many guys walk into the gym and to directly to the 120s and try to shoulder press them only to fail. The bottom line is that the shoulder has several tiny muscles in there and if they arent developed to the point of being able to re
Dont Bench Like A Bodybuilder
. What Dont bench like a bodybuilder Ever wonder why so many guys/girls get hurt bench pressing It is because they bench press in a bodybuilding style. The bench press can actually be pretty safe if you stabilize the movement by benching like a powerlifter. What does that mean? Bench with your elbows tucked in at about a 45 degree angle. The bodybuilding style is when the Humerus creates an L shape with the torso. It will take a bit of gettin
Warm up Your Shoulders
. The shoulders are involved in a large variety of exercises and movements. Duh! So, it would only make sense that you warm them up appropriately before engaging in any activity, right? Im sure that you already warm them up before you do your shoulder day workout, but do you do it before your squat workout? Well, you should. If you want to get those shoulders back far enough to get good bar placement, you need to warm those shoulders up.