upright-row-thumbShoulders: one of the most important joints in the body, and one that you should take seriously and give careful attention to while training. I say this because, many guys that I know often don’t take enough caution when training their shoulders, not aware that once it’s injured, they’re more than likely to be on a road of resistance throughout the rest of their training life. Shoulder injuries are one of the most common injuries that you can get in the gym. Although they’re common, they can also be avoided fairly easily. This article is going to cover 3 exercises that negatively affect shoulders and are most likely to cause injury and complications if performed over a long period of time.

Barbell Upright Rows: Considered to be one of the most harmful exercises for the shoulders. Far too often I’ve seen guys in the gym performing this exercise incorrectly. They grip the bar too closely, often using too much weight and end up jerking the bar upwards. This is horrible for your shoulder joints. Now you may be saying that this exercise isn’t all too bad, but if you are just starting out, over time your shoulder joint will start to experience pain. This is because when you raise your arms up to perform this exercise your rotator cuff muscle can become inflamed as a result of pinching and rubbing up against the bone above it. This happens due to internal rotation of the shoulder joint. Now internal rotation isn’t bad, but the problem comes when you raise your arms up along with added resistance. This may not hurt for the first few times you perform this exercise, but you don’t need to wait for an injury before you stop do you? I find that front raises, dumbbell presses and military presses are just as effective for adding mass to the shoulders.

**Demonstrate internal rotation: hold your arms straight out to your sides with your palms down. Rotate your hands forward as if you were pouring out a glass of water. **

15_1Behind the neck pull downsThis is a common exercise that I see people performing in the gym. This is an exercise for the back development but it can also have negative effects on your shoulders. Unlike upright rows where internal rotation takes place, behind the neck pull downs place heavy emphasis on external rotation, this is a very delicate position for your shoulders. While performing this exercise, the supporting muscles of the shoulders are not in a good position to stabilize the joint and injury to the connective tissue can occur. Aside from that, many people don’t have shoulder flexibility and often have to bend their neck forward, creating more strain on the neck as well. This is one exercise that you should definitely stay away from in the gym. I highly recommend staying away from this exercise. It’s already a pretty uncomfortable movement as is, if you’ve ever tried it with heavier resistance. I recommend you opt for underhand grip pull downs, close grip/wide grip pull downs and pull ups and chin ups.

**Demonstrate external rotation: hold your arms out to your side with palms down. Rotate your palms upward. **

Behind the neck shoulder press: Once again external rotation comes in to play when performing this exercise. This exercise places the shoulders in a vulnerable position just like behind the neck pull downs. On top of that, this exercise allows heavier weights to be used and without proper caution and experience it’s just part of the recipe for injury. I highly recommend front shoulder presses, dumbbell presses and military presses as safer alternatives.

With any exercise you perform, injury can occur without proper caution and technique. These exercises that I just listed are not necessary to develop the targeted muscles and there are many other alternatives to these 3 exercises that provide safer movements and better results. As always, train smart, and I’ll see you in the next article.


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John considers himself as a fitness enthusiast who loves to do anything to keep the body in peak physical performance (much like a highly tuned machine). He mainly focuses on sports nutrition and supplement research, but is also highly knowledgeable in relation to muscle growth and fat loss. He's helped numerous people over the years achieve the body that they've always wanted and hopes his information will guide you to the goals you want.

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