3 Beginner Shoulder Training Mistakes That Are Holding Back Your Gains

·3 min read

You may think you need to carry the weight of the world when it comes to training your shoulders, but the sooner you learn that less can be more, the sooner you'll be on the path to healthier, happier workouts.

In order to build out a formidable upper body and achieve the V-taper torso, many new trainees feel the need to attack shoulder training with the same ferocity as leg day, even though the deltoids are a much smaller muscle group. The shoulders are also a much more complicated structure than other commonly trained areas, making it much easier to go too hard, too soon if you're not working the right way. This can lead to wasted time in the gym—or even worse, injuries.

Break through beginner's mistakes with help from Men's Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. “There is no body part that is more butchered in the gym than shoulder training,” he says. Follow his tips to get on track.

3 Beginner Shoulder Training Mistakes to Avoid

Here are three beginner mistakes that may be contributing to short-circuiting your progress.

Arching Your Back During Overhead Pressing

The military press—any type of overhead press, really—works the shoulders when you drive the weight up. However, lots of beginner's tend to arching their back during the move, devolving into an incline press exercise, shifting the focus from your shoulders to your chest, and placing unnecessary stress on your back as well.

The Solution: Whenever you're doing any overhead press variations, keep the abs nice and tight (think ribcage down). From that position, begin performing your overhead presses.

Shrugging When You're Supposed to Raise

Lateral raises are a great exercise to hit the outer head of the shoulders. But once that raise becomes a shrug upward, the traps take the emphasis away from the shoulders.

The Solution: As you do the lateral raise, make sure to always think of these cues: Abs tight, shoulder blades down and back. And as you're driving the weight up, maintain that position and it will help reduce any trap intervention and keep the focus on the deltoids.

You're Doing Too Much Shoulder Training

Less is more when it comes to your shoulder training. If your whole split is dedicated to the muscle group, you’re probably doing too many exercises. The shoulders are a small muscle group to start. Then, factor in that the shoulders are involved in lots of other training you're doing in the gym, from upper body training like chest and back to their role as key stabilizers for load when you perform lower body movements, like squats. You're getting a lot of shoulder work before you even begin targeted training.

The Solution: When you start training shoulders, limit yourself to two moves: an overhead press and a lateral raise or rear delt fly. Follow these dos and don’ts and you’ll quickly begin seeing boulder shoulder results without aches and pains.

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