So take careful notes as we tackle the five most common shoulder training blunders and explain how to shoulder on correctly.
Mistake #1: Overemphasising Front Delts
This is especially true if you train chest and shoulders in the same workout or on consecutive days.
- If you hit chest before shoulders in the same workout, consider how much pressing and dipping you’ve already done before working delts. If the total is at least eight sets, do no more than four sets total of shoulder presses and front raises.
- Don’t train chest and shoulders on consecutive days. Ideally, three days should pass between hitting each, so if you do chest on Monday, do delts on Thursday.
- Dumbbell presses or presses behind the neck stress the middle delts more and front delts less, so these are good alternatives to military presses if you believe that your front delts are overtrained or that they’re outgrowing the other heads.
- One cardinal rule of bodybuilding is that you can never be too wide. And so, it’s generally best to emphasize your middle delts more and front delts less on shoulder day, because the middles (most responsible for shoulder width) get little stress during other workouts and your fronts may assist during both your chest and tri sessions.
Mistake #2: Underemphasising Rear Delts
Most bodybuilders relegate rear laterals to last place in their shoulder routines, and then go through the paces for four sets of minimal intensity. It’s no wonder posterior delts are so frequently your shoulders’ weakest links.
- Consider training rear delts on back day, when you can emphasize them separately from their front and middle brothers. Perform four to six sets of rear laterals at the end of your back workout.
- If you choose to train posteriors on shoulder day, don’t always perform them last in your routine.
Instead, do rear laterals after presses – but before any side laterals or front raises – or switch up the order from workout to workout.
Mistake #3: Too Fast And Furious
- Do shoulder exercises seated instead of standing to remove your legs from the lifts.
- Choose weights that you can utilize for 8-12 strict reps at a relatively slow pace (1 second up, 2 seconds down). Pause at the bottom of reps to begin each rep from a dead stop and eliminate any swinging momentum.
Mistake #4: Improper Form
Correct form is especially important on shoulder day, because of the ball-and-socket joints’ vulnerability to injury.
- When doing side laterals, let your elbows lead the way and raise them until they’re even with your shoulders. In the top position, your hands should be just below the level of your elbows (arms slightly bent) with your pinkies up and thumbs down.
- Throughout each set, focus on the deltoid heads you’re targeting, not on the resistance. Work the muscle, not the weight. After reaching failure in a shoulder exercise, don’t cheat to eke out extra reps. Instead, do a drop set, have a partner help with forced, reps or use the rest-pause technique.
When doing overhead presses, lower your hands to approximately chin level (or below) and raise to just short of lockout.
Mistake #5: Lack Of Exercise Variety
There are a lot of ways to do overhead presses.
- There’s more to training middle delts than just dumbbell side laterals. On occasion, do side laterals with cables or a machine and, regardless of equipment, you can go unilateral. Wide-grip upright rows are another way of targeting your middle delts.
- Likewise, you can perform rear laterals with cables or machines and go unilateral. You can also do wide-grip bent-over rows to focus more on your posterior delts. A Smith machine is an effective tool for wide-grip rows; hold each contraction and flex your rear delts.
- Work your front delts less and middle delts more
- Train rear delts after back or don’t leave them for last in your shoulder routine
- Sit down and slow down to remove momentum from lifts
- Use strict form and avoid cheating, even if only to extend a set beyond failure
- Do a wide variety of shoulder exercises