Making a mistake during shoulder day can do more than give you a sub-par workout. Mistakes can mean that you suffer an injury -- such as a torn rotator cuff -- that sets your fitness and weight loss goals back substantially. Learn the seven top actions that you should never do on shoulder day to reduce the chances of injury.
While it's true that you will likely have at least a slight arch to your back when you are performing overhead presses, you want to make sure that you are not hyper-extending either. Doing so could move the focus of your workout from your shoulders to your chest, while putting your lower back at risk for injury. Safe pressing means bracing and contracting your core muscles while your back is in a neutral position, although some slight arching is OK. Pronounced arching sets you up for a herniated back disk.
Working your mid-deltoids means moving your upper arms directly to the outside by using a moderate grip. A close grip pushes your elbows both forward and out -- not directly out to the side. This is the result of shoulder rotation within its interior. Not being able to work your middle delts effectively is not the only problem with this stance, though; you also up your chances of getting a workout-busting shoulder injury. Pay attention to your grip and keep it wide so that the right area of your shoulders is being worked.
Your shoulder area comprises three sections -- the front, middle and rear. Most guys have a weakness in their rear delts simply because they are worked last, or because you have focused mostly on working your chest. This imbalance can lead to your having a slouched appearance because your shoulders rotate forward. You might also be faced with rotator-cuff injuries in the long run. Concentrate on doing single joint movements to build up your rear delts.
Contrary to popular workout mentality, piling on the weights and combining extra weight with low reps to build stronger shoulders is probably a mistake if you take the barbell behind your neck. This position -- a heavy weight behind your neck -- puts your shoulders at their weakness point anatomically. Either go in front of your head if you want to press a great deal of weight, or resist the urge to increase the weight behind your neck during this type of workout. This strategy will help reduce the risk of a shoulder tear.
Of course, overhead presses are everyone's favorite go-to exercise when you're working the mid-joint area of your shoulder. To assume, though, that all variations of overhead presses work your shoulder muscles in the same way is inherently false. Understanding how -- and where -- each exercise does work before you get started enables you to tailor your workouts more precisely, so you can work on your own particular trouble spots. Whether you lower a weight behind your head or in front of it radically changes the emphasis that is placed on your delts. When you are pressing a dumbbell over your head, your upper arms naturally push your elbows out to the sides, which is a sign that your middle shoulders are being worked. Move that dumbbell to the front of your head, and you'll notice a slight rotation of your elbows forward as well. This movement brings in your front delts as well.
When you're working your chest, your shoulder muscles -- and your triceps -- come in for the assist as well. Make sure you arrange your training routine to take this into consideration. Ideally, you want to train your delts, chest and triceps all on the same day. If you don't, then try to plan for two days -- either before or after the day you work your chest -- to rest your deltoids. Otherwise, you run the risk of overworking them.
Limiting your range of motion to shoulder height when you are doing front or lateral raises means that you could be selling yourself short when you're trying to have an effective workout. By stopping at your shoulders, your anterior and middle deltoids haven't reached the end of their range of motion. Because these particular muscles are still contracting, you can take them higher. According to some experts, you can go as much as 45 degrees over the horizontal plane.
Follow this list of seven key actions that you should not do on shoulder day, and you'll be well on your way to having those ripped delts that you want. Best of all? You'll minimize your risk of injury, so you don't lose all the effects of the hard work you've already put in.
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