5 Ways to stuff up your shoulders

February 26, 2009 at 11:37 am 1 comment

To those who train with me you know how seriously I take injury prevention. It is too late once you have been injured from poor programming or poor technique.

From time to time I will have guest articles from other fitness professionals out there. Today Keith Scott a friend from North America shares why your shoulders often take a hammering. Feel free to leave comments at the end. Tim

People continue to do “dumb things” in the name of getting big or strong…and continue to sacrifice their physical health. Here are 5 things that I see people do that help screw up the shoulder joints. (Don’t be one of these people…if you have questions, please comment or drop me an email. )

1. Continue the long-standing tradition of having a “Bench” day. I don’t really get why someone that is not training for a power lifting meet needs to have a day totally committed to performing nothing but the bench press. I have watched guys bench for over an hour at a time and then go home. * Benching alone is a great way to mess up your shoulders. If you are not a power lifter or have an equally good reason to “bench” press all on one day, make sure you balance out your program with other exercises.

2. Keep performing “bench dips.” I get really aggravated every time I see a ‘trainer’ prescribe bench dips to female (and sometimes male) clients. Bench dips are a great way to destroy your shoulders. I have watched it happen time and time again. I have even warned people NOT to do them and told them why…yet, they did them and paid the price. Stay away from bench dips. There are better ways to work your triceps. If you run into a trainer that blindly prescribes them to you…run.


3. Continue to bench the wrong way, to go along with number 1. I would venture to say that 99% (yes that is a big number) of the people out there benching, perform it the wrong way. Having your elbows out, not using your legs, and leaving your upper back just lying there without purpose, are all the wrong things to do when you bench press. Learn to bench the right way. There are many great sources on the internet about just how to do a proper bench press. This post is about shoulder health, so trust me when I say benching the wrong way is one of the best ways to hurt your shoulders. I am living proof of that.

4. Not enough “pulling” exercises in your program. Push, push, push. Benching, pressing, dips, flys, and hardly any pulling exercises makes Johnny’s shoulder hurt really bad. * My recommendation has always been to have at least 3 pulling exercises for every 1 pushing exercise. That ratio is because we are so out of balance to begin with. We sit at a desk, behind a wheel, or at the table…hunched over, shoulders rounded, and then we get into the gym and we make things worse by doing all pushing exercises.You have to counter balance that with pulling movements. * Add rows, chins, pull-ups, and pull-down variations into your program.

5. Continue to not work on the rotator cuff muscles. Too many people jump all over rotator cuff exercises when they are already injured. They pull on a band for a couple of weeks and that is it. Incorporate the proper mix of rotator cuff work into your normal routine. Your shoulders will thank you for it. * Internal and external rotation with dumbbells, and bands.

6. BONUS – Don’t skip the soft-tissue work either. Make sure you are doing your foam rolling, massages, and other work on the upper back and shoulder areas.

Written by Keith Scott on October 27, 2008 – 5:00 am –


Entry filed under: Exercise, Fitness, Health. Tags: , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Fred  |  March 3, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Hello Tim! Couldn’t agree more with #5 on your (Keith’s) list…had a chronic left shoulder issue for the longest time until I started using resistance cords before every workout to work and warm-up my shoulders, primarily the three rotator cuff muscles. No problems any longer and I can do push-ups and bench presses with no shoulder pain.

    Great advice! Shoulders are the first things to get ‘messed-up’ during weight training if you don’t take care of them.

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