Shoulder work

Ask or answer questions, discuss and express your views

Moderators: Ironman, Jungledoc, parth, stuward, jethrof

Post Reply
magicdad
n00b
n00b
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2006 9:43 am

Shoulder work

Post by magicdad » Tue Oct 09, 2007 5:57 pm

For general conditioning purposes is it absolutely necessary to target the shoulders with such exercises as military press and DB press? My shoulders are somewhat vulnerable, so I go relatively light on them. Shoulder exercises are my least favorite, so perhaps I'm just being lazy or overprotective of them. But I'm curious if my shoulders are getting enough residual work through bench press, pullups, rows, pushups, etc. Thanks.


User avatar
stuward
moderator
moderator
Posts: 6650
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2007 5:44 pm
Location: Halifax, NS

Post by stuward » Tue Oct 09, 2007 6:18 pm

For general conditioning, what's important is overall strength, muscularity and functionality. If you are comfortable with the way you are, no it's not absolutely essential. If you're not, you need to work on it.

A general rule of thumb is that you should do your least favorite exercise more often. If you neglect it, you will likely develop an imbalance that will cause a weakness and could lead to an injury. The next time you need to provide force in an upward direction, like throwing a child in the air, or lifting something onto a high shelf, you may wish you spent more effort training your shoulders. Being overprotective of a vulnerable area can actually cause an injury later.

Stu

User avatar
Stephen Johnson
Exalted Seer
Exalted Seer
Posts: 2097
Joined: Sun Mar 12, 2006 11:20 pm
Location: New York City

Re: Shoulder work

Post by Stephen Johnson » Tue Oct 09, 2007 11:10 pm

magicdad wrote:For general conditioning purposes is it absolutely necessary to target the shoulders with such exercises as military press and DB press?
Since the shoulders are involved in practically every upper body compound exercise, they don't need as much targeted work as many people assume. But for them to achieve their full potential, you have to train them directly. Just be careful not to overdo it.

My favorite shouder exercises are

Anterior Deltoid - Military Press
Lateral Deltoid - Upright Row
Posterior Deltoid - Rear Delt Row

Most lifters have overdevelopment of the anterior deltoid (compared to the other two heads) from excessive bench pressing. If a lifter does a lot of rows for back (as opposed to just wide grip pulldowns/chins) they should have good rear deltoids. The lateral deltoid is usually the neglected head. The bodybuilder Larry Scott was able to create the appearance of broad shoulders (on a narrow frame) by developing his lateral deltoid.

But look at your own shoulders to see what head needs to be prioritized.
magicdad wrote:My shoulders are somewhat vulnerable, so I go relatively light on them. Shoulder exercises are my least favorite, so perhaps I'm just being lazy or overprotective of them.
By "somewhat vulnerable" are you saying that your shoulders have been injured? You might want to speak with a physical therapist about them if the problem is serious. If not, you should include rotator cuff work in your routine. And when bench pressing, don't bench with your arms in a "T" position and let your elbows go below your torso. That position puts extreme pressure on the shoulder capsule.

KPj
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Posts: 3482
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2006 5:49 am

Post by KPj » Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:57 am

For general conditioning purposes is it absolutely necessary to target the shoulders with such exercises as military press and DB press?
No, it's not. If your an olympic lifter, then it would be necessary increase vertical push strength. If your shoulders look particularly small i.e. there just genetically a stubborn body part, and it bothers you, then shoulder pressing would be ideal. Although anything that causes pain and discomfort isn't ideal.

Otherwise, make sure you train your back enough and also make sure you don't train your chest too much. Chest and back workouts basically take care of front and rear delts. Lateral raises are a good option for your lateral delts. Shoulder pressing 'every now and again' may be worth a thought.

Personally, I don't do any shoulder pressing. I occasionally do lateral raises (in the frontal plane). My goals are strength and size, i've only got a little more size to add (about 7-8lbs) then it will be purely strength, with the aim of competing in a power lifting comp. I don't intend on shoulder pressing, either.

KPj

Onlyethic
Apprentice
Apprentice
Posts: 128
Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2007 4:05 pm

Go light

Post by Onlyethic » Wed Oct 10, 2007 7:39 am

Maybe just start with bodyweight work on them. Decline pushups are pretty good.

Or even that exercise from gym class where you hold your arms out at a 90 degree angle to your body and make small circles with your fists. Pretty easy to do ten, but try doing sets of 100 followed by the reverse direction. You'll find your shoulders getting stronger without having to put load on them.


magicdad
n00b
n00b
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2006 9:43 am

Post by magicdad » Wed Oct 10, 2007 8:35 am

Thanks for all the responses guys. To answer any questions regarding my stats and personal goals - I'm 46, ectomorphic, and training only to stay in shape and not look like most 46 year olds I know. My shoulder vulnerability is, for the most part, hereditary. No injuries, other than some recent impingement which I no longer suffer from. I have a pro athlete son (he's a minor league pitcher for the Cleveland Indians - go Tribe!) and two years ago I tried to keep up with him by throwing 'long toss'. My shoulder was on fire the next day and for a while afterwards, but I was able to rehab it through some fantastic advice from TimD on this website.

Nowadays I simply try not to push the shoulders too hard. I max out with 50 lb. dumbbells on the bench, and frankly that's plenty for me. This, in addition to the other exercises in my full body routine, has shaped my chest nicely. I'm not looking to get bigger, but rather to keep the lean muscle mass that I've gained in the past couple of years and perhaps define it a bit more. As far as my shoulders look - they're shaped just fine, no genetic imbalance, but I've been feeling lately that direct work is overkill considering all of the above.

My plan now, based on some thought and your responses, is to do lateral shoulder work to augment what I'm already supplying to my shoulders through presses, push ups, chins, and rows. In other words, I feel that these exercises are hitting the anterior and posterior portions of the shoulders, and I can provide balance with a specific lateral exercise such as a dumbbell raise. Am I on the right track there?

Thank you again, gentlemen.

KPj
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Posts: 3482
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2006 5:49 am

Post by KPj » Wed Oct 10, 2007 9:22 am

I would say all sounds good.

I had a partial tendon tear in my shoulder, and was left with an impingement, hence I am of the same view and have been excluding shoulder pressing for some time now, even lateral raises are scarce for me but not for any particular reason other than i'm happy with the development of my delts so far.

This was for good reason, as well, I done my homework and this site was a huge help for that.

Also, i just wanted to give some quick fire advice, from one impingement sufferer to another, lol. If you want me to expand on anything, just ask as there quite vague. Note that i'm not screaming at you to do all this, it's just useful to know, if you don't already, and you may have the notion to give some things a try.

All points below have the aim of both stablising your shoulders, and also 'playing it safe' - giving them a break basically.

1. Scapula (shoulder blades) stability. If you focus on strenghtening the muscles in and around your shoulder blades, you will take a lot of the stress away from your rotator cuff. This is basically your whole upper back, minus upper traps i.e. lower and middle traps, rear delts etc (BASICALLY covered with horizontal rowing such as seated cable row). Lack of scapulae stability is basically the cause of impingment. Basically!

2. On the same note as above, as an impingement sufferer, do ATLEAST the same volume of pulling as you do pushing, if anything, pull a little more.

3. Direct serratus anterior i.e. scap push ups

4. Direct external rotator work i.e. external rotations

5. Posture awareness - be conscious of your posture

6. Think 'grip' - just changing from a standard pronated grip to a neutral grip can really give your shoulders a break i.e. phases where you use a neutral grip for DB bench press.

7. Deload - backing off for a week or so. For example, sometimes I drop all heavy horizontal pressing in favour of things like plain old push ups, or DB press on a stability ball. I will also cut down on volume quite dramatically in a 'deload week' and put more focus on dynamic stretching, soft tissue work, static stretching, and general active recovery. I do this every 4th week but that is quite alot - sometimes I just cut the volume down, and don't replace anything. It's worth a thought if you ever think that things just don't feel quite right, i'm sure you know what I mean by that.

8. Dynamic warm ups, and regular soft tissue work (foam rolling).

I'l stop at that, but I could go on, lol. Every time I speak to someone with a shoulder issue, I could go on and on for hours.

Kpj

KPj
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Posts: 3482
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2006 5:49 am

Post by KPj » Wed Oct 10, 2007 9:32 am

One last thing - FISH OIL. 6-10 grams per day.

Everyone should take it, but especially people with chronic joint injuries such as impingement.

If you do some searches on the benefits, you will be there all day reading about it, it's non debatable really :-)

KPj

User avatar
TimD
In Memoriam: TimD
In Memoriam: TimD
Posts: 3129
Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2005 8:04 am
Location: Va Beach, Va

Post by TimD » Wed Oct 10, 2007 9:50 am

Magic Dad, I agree, for the circumstances all looks good. One thing I might add, is for the direct lateral work, in addition to rotator work,there is an exercise out there I think called L-flyes. You do them with db'sb'sIt's similar to an upright row, but the bells start out a little wider, you raise laterally, and the bells stay the same distance from the body in both start and finish. Kind of a bent arm lateral raise. Also, db snatches or Cuban rolls (similar, but not the same). There is a coach out there that specializs in shoulder health, and his routines are full of this stuff. I don't have it bookmarked, but his name is Jerry Telle, and probably has a website full of this stuff.
Tim

Kenny Croxdale
Powerlifting Ninja
Powerlifting Ninja
Posts: 1124
Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2006 10:36 am

Re: Shoulder work

Post by Kenny Croxdale » Thu Oct 11, 2007 10:34 am

Since the shoulders are involved in practically every upper body compound exercise, they don't need as much targeted work as many people assume. But for them to achieve their full potential, you have to train them directly. Just be careful not to overdo it.
Most lifters have overdevelopment of the anterior deltoid (compared to the other two heads) from excessive bench pressing. If a lifter does a lot of rows for back (as opposed to just wide grip pulldowns/chins) they should have good rear deltoids.

Great information (Stuward provide some great information, as well).

Most lifters hammer the anterior delltoid and don't do enough for the posterior deltoid.

One intersting study relating to this was why some professional baseball pitchers had longer careers than others.

The pitchers with the shorter careers had an imbalance between their interior and exterior rotator cuff. The anterior deltoid was much stronger than the posterior deltoid.

The pitchers who lasted the longest (Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, etc) exterior/interior rotator cuff strength was equal. Thus, insuring a longer throwing career.

As Stephen noted, balance your pushing movements with a pulling movements.

Kenny Croxdale

Labyrinth
Novice
Novice
Posts: 83
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2007 1:54 pm

Post by Labyrinth » Thu Oct 11, 2007 2:41 pm

What sorts of compound movements are there for the laterals?
The best I can think of is the upright row, or I guess a clean and press would be good to work the anteriors at the same time..

User avatar
Stephen Johnson
Exalted Seer
Exalted Seer
Posts: 2097
Joined: Sun Mar 12, 2006 11:20 pm
Location: New York City

Post by Stephen Johnson » Thu Oct 11, 2007 3:20 pm

Labyrinth wrote:What sorts of compound movements are there for the laterals?
The best I can think of is the upright row, or I guess a clean and press would be good to work the anteriors at the same time..
Other than the upright row and variations of the clean or snatch, I don't think that there are any compound exercises that work the laterals. I was once told that behind the neck presses do a better job of recruiting the lateral deltoid than the standard press. But even then, the anterior deltoid is the target muscle, and the lateral deltoid the synergist.

User avatar
stuward
moderator
moderator
Posts: 6650
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2007 5:44 pm
Location: Halifax, NS

Post by stuward » Thu Oct 11, 2007 4:20 pm

Dumbbell raise would do it too.

http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Del ... aises.html

Stu

User avatar
Stephen Johnson
Exalted Seer
Exalted Seer
Posts: 2097
Joined: Sun Mar 12, 2006 11:20 pm
Location: New York City

Post by Stephen Johnson » Thu Oct 11, 2007 10:07 pm

The dumbbell raise is a new one on me, Stu. It looks like it might be less irritating than the usual upright row for people with shoulder impingements. It even recruits the posterior deltoid as a synergist - gives the anterior deltoid a rest. I'll try it out tomorrow.

Thanks.

pdellorto
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Deific Wizard of Sagacity
Posts: 5252
Joined: Mon May 28, 2007 8:43 am
Location: New Jersey
Contact:

Post by pdellorto » Fri Oct 12, 2007 7:24 am

I've done that dumbbell row with a Trap Bar - Paul Kelso calls them "Trap Bar High Pulls." I found they didn't have the problem of rotating the shoulder into a weak position that Upright Rows give you. It's a good exercise though I haven't done them recently.


Post Reply