Just like with every body part we train, there are small mistakes we make that can make a huge difference when it comes to the results we see. Shoulders are no different; in fact, shoulders might be the body part we make the most mistakes while we train. Today we’ll touch on a few of the more common mistakes we see when performing some of the popular shoulder exercises

We Use Our Traps Too Much

This is a common occurrence for the majority of upper body exercises, but will be especially predominate in shoulder exercises.  Once again, this is a function of our body to try to make lifts much easier for us, and while I’m sure we appreciate that… I’m sure we also want to get better gains as well!

This issue takes a little bit of work and thought to correct, but once we address the issue it can be quickly resolved. As we are performing our exercises we need to really concentrate on using the Deltoid, and by trying to keep our shoulder blade in a neutral position but depressing the shoulders (pulling your shoulders down) and retracting them (pulling the shoulders together). “Sit up straight” as our parents used to yell at us (I fixed my posture just now, I hope you did too). Keeping this position is tough initially, as we do typically have weaker lower traps, and a dominant chest but if we keep working on the position it should be easier to maintain.

With our shoulders now “set” we can allow the Deltoid to be the primary mover for the exercise opposed to using the traps. This also reduces the amount of momentum we use to perform the exercise, increasing the effectiveness and probably forcing us to use a lighter weight!

Leaning Back During The Overhead Press

When we are struggling with our overhead press, our body naturally attempts to find the path of least resistance. In an effort to recruit more muscles to help with this movement we tend to lean back, creating an arch, which allows us to recruit some of our chest to actually help with the press. This turns the exercise into a dangerous, unsupported version of an incline chest press.

Not only does it take away from the shoulder muscle recruitment, but it also puts a lot of unnecessary tension on the low and mid back. This added tension could put our discs and vertebrae in danger of serious harm.

Typically this fault is caused by either the individual using too heavy of a load, or a failure to keep their core and shoulders tight throughout the movement. This isn’t just while standing either. We have to ensure we are keeping our body nice and tense, with our spine aligned as we are doing the seated version of the press as well.

By setting our shoulders, and bracing our core properly, we can allow ourselves utilize the shoulder more effectively in our lift. 

We Don’t Train Our Entire Deltoid

When we think of shoulder workouts we typically think about shoulder presses, lateral raises and front raises, but that doesn’t cover the whole spectrum. The Deltoid has three points of origin, creating an anterior, lateral and posterior section of the Deltoid. To build stronger, more defined, and bigger shoulders we need to implement all three sections in our training.

It’s pretty common we will train the anterior of their shoulders more often than the other heads, as it does get recruited in many chest exercises as well as overhead presses, and front raises. The lateral head will be used in (you guessed it) Lateral Raises, Arnold Presses and Side Planks.

The Rear or Posterior Deltoid however is typically the one left out of the equation, and where we typically lack in our training. With all training, we do need to make a conscious effort to work more of our back/posterior of our body, as it doesn’t get used as much in day-to-day life. Not only will training the Posterior Deltoid create a more full and round aesthetic look, but it will be effective with our posture as well. We can focus on the Rear Deltoids by performing Face Pulls, Rows (especially high rows), and Reverse Fly’s.

By concentrating on all the heads of the Deltoid we can create a more stable, strong, and symmetrical shoulder. 

These 3 tips can help us train our shoulder more effectively, and much more safely as well. By implementing these small aspects, we can see better results and train smarter, while we are working harder!

I’ll be back with some tips to Build Bigger Shoulders in just a few weeks! Stay tuned for more, and see you on the floor! 

Rich Hill

CSEP – Certified Personal Trainer

RK Athletics – https://linktr.ee/RK_Athletics

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