Shoulders are very important when lifting because having strong shoulders means having strong arms… and nobody wants weak twiggy arms. However, they are a common muscle group that often gets injured. Doing unsafe exercises, horrible form, or not warming up all can lead to shoulder injuries.
A lot of folks disregard warm-up exercises because they believe they are above injuries and they can just out train an injury by having bigger shoulder muscles. Which isn’t totally wrong, but it isn’t totally right either. So let’s break down the science of shoulder injuries and how to prevent them.
How To Keep Your Shoulders Safe
It all begins with a group of muscles and tendons inside your shoulder called your rotator cuff. Each muscle group in the rotator cuff has its own job, but together they work in maintaining stabilization and strength in the entire shoulder joint. It’s the most important part of your entire shoulder joint.
If your rotator cuff is weak, there’s a high chance of you injuring your shoulders. This means weeks out of the gym and probably some physical therapy. Right now you are probably thinking “yeah whatever, I’m not feeling any pain… I’m good”.
If you aren’t properly warming up, you’re pushing your luck. Warming up takes about five to ten minutes and it can save your shoulder.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, time to cover what you should do to prevent shoulder injuries. Do these exercises with a very light weight and aim for a higher rep range of 15-20 reps per set.
Before saying “yeah right, that’s too light” remember that the point of these exercises are to improve shoulder health, warm up your muscles, and improve your rotator cuff strength. Do the exercises with as much control as possible.
1. Lateral Front Raises
You can do this either one arm at the time or both at the same time. Performing these are very simple. With your elbows flared out a bit and your arms slightly bent, raise your arms to a 90-degree angle in a controlled manner and then lower the weight.
2. Side Lying Dumbbell External Rotation
Lie on your side and bend your arm at a 90-degree angle. Slowly begin bringing your palm towards your chest while still maintaining that 90-degree angle. This solely works your rotator cuff so proceed only using good form.
3. Cable Internal Rotation
Time to do some cable exercises! Another exercise that your rotator cuff will thank you for doing are internal rotations. Stand next to a cable pulley with your arm at a 90-degree angle and start pulling it towards your chest.
This movement is the same as above, except the resistance is had when bringing your palm towards your chest, instead of outwards. You could also do this exercise with a light band.
More exercises on the next page…
4. Bent Over Reverse Fly
These will help build your rear delts so it helps keep the front delt from being overdeveloped and causing issues. Keep the movement fluid and slow to warm up the muscle. Don’t rush anything because there’s no point in screwing up your form on a warm up exercise.
5. Standing Dumbbell External Rotation
We covered a lying version of this a bit earlier in this article, think of this as that exercises older brother. It’s the pretty much same thing except standing.
If you wish, you can do this using both hands at the same time, but we recommend one arm at a time for proper form. Again, put your arm at a 90-degree angle and rotate it.
Now here’s the trick, if you have a really stiff shoulder and a history of injuries start at a neutral position such as with your forearm parallel to the floor and go up. No need to stress your muscles and tendons by trying to go further than possible.
These will work your rotator cuff really well, but you can easily mess up your shoulder doing them you don’t follow proper form.
6. Band Front to Backs
While the name is somewhat up in the air, this movement is extremely helpful in opening up your shoulders and increasing range of motion. Use a band or even a broomstick to complete these.
Improving your shoulder flexibility will help prevent you from going to snap city. As your shoulders get more mobile, try to use a stronger band or move your grip width closer on the broomstick.
So there you have it. Get those shoulders healthy and use these tips wisely. Warm up properly, utilize some of these workouts, and make some gains.
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