Ask any professional personal trainer and they’ll tell you that one of the most common injuries at the gym is a shoulder injury. The thing is, most of these shoulder injuries are sustained while performing non-shoulder exercises because we don’t have well-balanced deltoids.
As it turns out, most of us are training our shoulders incorrectly.
And the result is a shoulder that’s not strong enough, balanced enough or stable enough to handle the rest of our strength training.
If you’ve ever had a shoulder injury, you know that it’s debilitating and frustrating!
Here’s what you need to know about your shoulder muscles to avoid pain and injury for good. And, as a bonus, you’ll learn how to build bigger, stronger shoulders too!
Anatomy 101: Your shoulder
If we ask you to rub your shoulders, you’ll quite likely rest your hand on the meaty part between the base of your neck and the tops of your arms. These muscles are, in fact, the trapezius muscles. And while they do form part of the shoulder, these aren’t the muscles you need to worry about.
The ones we’re talking about are the muscles located where your arm meets your body – just above the bicep. Those are your deltoids. They surround the shoulder joint – the joint that connects your arm to your body and they play an important role in the mobility of your shoulder since they’re part of the rotator cuff (the tendons and ligaments that connect your scapula or shoulder blade to the top of your arm allowing a wide range of motion).
Specifically, you have three deltoid muscles: The anterior, posterior and lateral deltoid heads.
Some shoulder exercises do activate some of these areas of the deltoid muscle group. But most often, shoulder exercises neglect some part of the muscle group, resulting in an imbalance. This imbalance is what causes the whole joint to become unstable when it’s under pressure (i.e. when you’re lifting weights!). And when your shoulder joint is unstable, any upper-body exercise becomes a potential injury…
Train in a way that prepares the joint – and the deltoids – for this stress. Isolation exercises are great for targeting a specific facet of the deltoid muscle. But it may be far easier to use compound exercises that work the whole muscle group in one movement. These exercises allow you to achieve muscle-building balance.
Here are our top five shoulder-building exercises:
- Military press,
- Dumbell lateral raise,
- Arnold press,
- Incline bench press, and
- Handstand push-ups.
Remember to incorporate shoulder stretches into your workout routine since flexibility is also a key factor in the stability of the joint. If any of the deltoids are too tight, it will pull the whole muscle group out of alignment.
If you’re fascinated by the world of fitness and exercise, then perhaps it’s time to consider a career as a personal trainer. Check out the Comprehensive Personal Training Certification on offer at Trifocus Fitness Academy.