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Shoulder clicking

I sometimes feel my left shoulder literally clicking and nipping as I come down from an overhead press. This also happens on a couple of other shoulder exercises. Should I proceed with a pressing routine under these conditions?

Injury has a mind of its own and speaks loud and clear.

The shoulders take a beating in all sports. The clicking is a signal you must continue to observe. Could be nothing. As nipping — pain, I presume? — accompanies the unusual clicking, implement the focused, light-weight train-around-the-pain modus operandi, AKA trip-around-the-nip practice. Employ extended light-weight warm-up procedures and watch out for the heavy bench pressing.

Now is a good time to investigate the benefits of dumbbell training on various degrees of incline for shoulder and chest construction. Be attentive to form and let the click and nip guide you in determining a functional groove.

Dave


Training around a shoulder injury

I have been training around a shoulder injury and my injured side is falling behind. Should I add exercises to the injured side until symmetry is regained? My bench press is going to the dogs and I’m going nuts.

I wouldn’t emphasize one side over the other unless I was recovering from an accident or surgery where special therapy was indicated. Providing you don’t have a major tear, impingement or nerve damage, health and balance will be regained in time as you proceed to heal, restore and develop muscle from your orderly weight training routine.

Be smart, patient and steely. Directed by the pain, avoid those exercises and ranges of motion that aggravate the tender area. Warm up, employ light weight, progress slowly and seek maximum muscle contraction and intensity through thoughtful exercise execution. Be grateful for the current education in concentration, focus and form and appreciate the new-found respect and humility. Injury teaches us the absolutes, discipline and virtue, when all else fails.

Finally, think twice about bench pressing heavy (troubles ahead), and seriously consider dumbbell pressing as an upgraded replacement. I know, giving up the bench press is like giving up Big Macs or gummy bears, but there comes a time in every lifter’s life when he must put his health first. Sorry.

Dave


Pain with pullovers

Last week you talked about pullovers, which I used to like a lot. Now when I do pullovers, I feel a strain in my shoulder. It feels like it’s my rotator or rear delt or something. How should I prevent this? Should I try and change my grip on the dumbbell?

Pain within the shoulder while doing pullovers may indicate a weak or damaged rotation cuff. You need to determine the extent of the limitation if you want to enjoy the benefits of the exercise.

Pullovers are, among other things, a great lat builder and a fun superset transition. When introducing pullovers, use a light weight (5lb to 10lbs), very slowly with a progressive range of motion to determine the health of the region. Some folks cannot do the movement due to sharp pain and uncontrollable shoulder mechanics. This is too bad, yet good to know for future reference. The limitations should be noted and the exercise put aside temporarily or altogether. The indication here is that the shoulder mechanics are abnormal or damaged and need special care.

Any orthopedic professional can argue against the pullover as a favorable movement, the rotator cuff becoming the fulcrum bearing the greatest resistance during execution. However, with attentive, progressive weight training, it lies within promising low risk.

Feel some pain? Warming up is imperative. Start light, 5-10 pounds for 3 sets of 15-20 reps. Practice single sets during early workouts to carefully observe each rep, each set, every twinge.

Does the area feel loose, tight, impinged, or simply unconditioned?
Has it undergone severe trauma in a past accident?
Are other joints similarly loose or problematic?

There’s a real good chance with proper focus, form, muscle recruitment and progressive training you can condition or re-condition your shoulder with this very movement and reap its brassy benefits. One day you might find yourself going heavy from time to time for fun and effectiveness.

Halted ability to do the pullover only magnifies your need to regularly include deltoid abductor and adductor exercises with the boring and dreaded exertube. Appreciate and recognize their value and faithfully include 3-4 sets of 25 reps, 2 times per week on shoulder days, preworkout–concentrated, intense, dedicated. This will insure a healthy rotator cuff development, longevity, shoulder strength, size and muscularity. These exercises are a must. They work; they are not minor, cursory efforts.

Any minor grip change may allow you do to the movement or do it with more comfort and intensity. Ease them into your routine with mild intentions and expectations. Try a close-grip barbell for variety or a close-grip bent bar. Shoulder-width or wider may interest you and be favorable from time to time. Block one end of a bench (4-6 inches) for either a decline or incline effect. Decline demands more forward torso contraction, incline allows greater stretch and extension.

Investigate, improvise, talk to yourself. You’re your best instructor, you know.

Dave


Shoulders and benching

I’m 54 and am benching 360, but my shoulders are beginning to hurt all the time and I’m unable to keep progressing because of that. Did that happen to you too?

You’re healthy and strong benching 360 at 54, a very positive sign. Be grateful, enjoy and, also, be wise.

I have had my share of training injuries and accidents outside the gym that limit me in my pressing. Pulling is not so bad and the legs and back are just dandy.

Shoulders, I have observed, take the greatest beating and present the most problems to the athlete, lifters often leading the line to the surgeon’s office. Take your own survey. I did that at 30 different seminars during a book tour a number of years ago and all agreed indiscriminate bench pressing was the bad guy.

The specific culprit is the arduous training in which one engages for maximum poundage in the bench press. The bench is a mechanical nightmare for the body presenting dangerous resistance within the scapula supporting the rotator cuff as it’s trapped on the bench below. Going heavy and rearranging our body while under the load, insisting upon gaining an advantage as we struggle with the reps, can cause trouble — trouble not always detected during the brief frenzy of the lift.

All I say is be aware. Hard to take the madness away from the man, but here’s my suggestion: Use the bench for exercise only. Dumbbells are fascinating, safer and a better muscle builder.

God’s speed and strength… DD


Shoulder impingement

Do you have any advice for people who get shoulder impingement syndrome from weights or exercise machines?

Suggestions:

Instincts and common sense required.

Warm up always, focus, use light weights, rest the area, work around the injury with modification-abbreviation-alteration of apt exercises, work remaining healthy and hardy body parts sufficiently to maintain systemic muscle progress.

There will probably be some exercises you just can’t do. Better to avoid them that live in constant pain, or even cause a worse problem that requires surgery.

Wraps and ointments of negligible value.

Be patient, eat right, be happy, smile.

God Bless Us… Dave


Football player off season

I’ve been weightlifting for three years along with playing football. During football season I separated my shoulder and just kept playing because it was my last year of football. I haven’t had a chance to see a doctor yet, so it still hurts, especially when I lift weights. So naturally, since football’s over and I’m not weight-training, I’ve lost a considerable amount of weight and haven’t been able to truly gain real muscle mass.

The best thing for you to do is see a doctor about your shoulder.

Then you can train regularly with the weights for health and strength all year round. Blasting it for football season is okay if you’re in shape for that level of overload, and you’re willing to make costly compromises. Football is pure punishment on the body and most coaches know little about smart weight training and injury.

Clean up your diet — high protein, and medium carb and fat of nutritional value, dump the sugar and weak fast food, add lots of fresh vegetables and some fruit.

Do aerobic work (jog, bike) 3x a week for 20 minutes, mid-section 3x a week and lift 3x a week.

Lay off bench presses (not worth the damage they do) and switch to incline dumbbell presses — 30 to 75 degree — for powerful, healthy and thick upper pecs and shoulders.

Think about your lifting as a bodybuilder and not as a powerlifter for long-term health.

You are seeking straightforward muscle building, which comes only with time, stamina, commitment and basic hard work… all of which takes guts.

God’s speed… Dave


Pec development

I read in an article that John Grimek didn’t do bench presses because he thought heavy pec development “hindered the full expansion of the chest.” What do you think of that idea?

In spite of its popularity, the bench press is neither a safe nor an effective exercise. Many shoulder problems can be attributed to the bench press as it aggravates the rotator cuff, and benchers insist on going too heavy and without the best form.

Dumbbell presses on various degrees of incline provide a higher and more appealing chest development with little or no danger of shoulder damage. They also promote impressively thick deltoids.

John Grimek… he was the best.

Dave


Strained shoulder

About a year ago I was working out when I started having shoulder pain. I immediately stopped working out and went to the doctor when things didn’t get better. He told me I strained my shoulder and to rest and take Advil. I have been suffering a weak shoulder with a very tight tendon toward the back of my deltoid. I’d like to know of some good rotator cuff workouts and what shoulder workouts should I stay away from.

I don’t know what the problem is. A good doc has a hard time accurately diagnosing and treating an injured shoulder. Sounds like you have a pinched nerve due to overload and/or poor exercise execution in the bench. Injuries commonly reoccur throughout our continued training efforts. Always warm up, use the bench press for light-weight musclebuilding exercise only, not intense power building or you may sustain the injury forever.

Might need deep tissue muscle work if the damage prolongs.

I’ll say this: shoulder problems are prominent among athletes, especially lifters, and the bench press is the biggest offender. Put it aside and use dumbbells in the future — better muscle builder and safer by far.

Don’t lay off, but work around the injury using common sense and pain as your guides. The most common rotator cuff exercises are inward and outward rotations done with bungy cords, but these are physical therapy exercises and may not be needed. Be forbearing and hopeful — both qualities are needed in the healing process.

Be strong. God’s speed… DD


What’s wrong with bench pressing?

You often mention that flat bench isn’t good for the long haul, since it’s not friendly to the shoulders. I’ll admit I feel a little impingement in my left shoulder on occasion, but have never had a significant injury. Did you just flat stop flat benching at some point, or did injury force you to give it up?

Insisting on heavy one-rep-max bench press workouts caused my right shoulder painful grief. I tried different approaches (light weight, high reps, varied grips), none of which were pain-free or non-aggravating.

Scrutiny of the all-star favorite weightlifting exercise, the big daddy of musclebuilders, showed me the flat bench press is not only conflicting in muscle action, it isn’t the hunky musclebuilder it was cast to be.

Dumbbells are, in fact, much better, safer and more interesting. Performance proves that. Plus, the actions of grasping, heaving and wrestling the iron mounds into place and back to the rack again are impressive muscle- and might-producing exercises above and beyond the dumbbell pressing itself. Dumbbells are generous. Dumbbells keep giving as we keep taking.

Curls and presses and Godspeed… Dave


Why didn’t John Grimek do bench press?

I read that John Grimek didn’t do bench presses because he thought heavy pec development “hindered the full expansion of the chest.” What do you think of that idea? I trust your opinion.

In spite of its popularity, the bench press is neither a safe nor an effective exercise. Many shoulder problems can be attributed to the bench press as it aggravates the rotator cuff and its users insist on going too heavy and without the best form.

Dumbbell presses on various degrees of incline provide a higher and more appealing chest development with little or no danger of shoulder damage. They also promote impressively thick deltoids.

Thanks for your support.

God’s speed… Dave


Shoulder workout plan

I’m 65 and have be doing compound supersets and have gotten stronger. What I’d like to try is to increase the volume to build more muscle, not necessarily the weight. I ‘d like to do two exercises, supersetted, but three sets in all. My shoulder presses aren’t the standard ones, they’re the ones where you press the bar up, then lower it behind the head and then press it up and return it to the shoulders; that’s one rep. I do a seated dumbbell press for 20 reps to warm up. I then do front shoulder raises with bentover flyes.

Go, B-65…

I see plenty of exertion engaging all heads of the delts without compromising the health of the muscles. Give it your best shot.

Humble Reminder: Be wise, be aware. Building muscle is not exactly a sure thing at 65, even though the lifter is bold and determined.
Furthermore, over-training and/or injury are always risk factors, tolerable when young, disabling when not so young.

Brisk and hardy workouts are winners as those around us grow grey hair. Take charge of your workouts; don’t let them take charge of you.

Pain-free training and longevity is something to consider in the not-to-distant future.

Go… God Speed… Dave B-73


Delts and aging

I’m 68 and have been training consistently for 50 years. I have been able to avoid shoulder injuries due to sufficient warm up of the rotator cuff prior to pressing movements. But I have noticed the delts respond less than other body parts. Why are the delts not responding as compared to other body parts? Thanks for your advice and being a great inspiration for all these years!

Continue on your strong and wise journey, adjusting always to accommodate the challenges… the puzzles.

The delts are the center of reaching and stretching and pounding and pummelling. They probably wish you’d just let them hang around and be useful.

Just to be sociable, try incline dumbbell presses supersetted with straight-arm pullovers with dumbbells (3-4 sets x 6-8 and 10-12 reps), followed by single-arm lateral raises – left and right, back and forth, leaning into the movement with isolated heft and vigor (3-4 x 10,8,6). Gets other stuff and may be an interesting change-up.

Go… God Speed… Dave


Aggressive training after injury

I’m 50 and have been training for about 20 years. I recently injured my shoulder — it doesn’t need surgery, but I’ve got a few weeks of physical therapy ahead of me. Do you think I’ll be able to continue my aggressive training?

After 50 or more years of scrambling around on the earth’s surface we all begin to lose ability here and there, the shoulders being the most troublesome site. You will enjoy effective and fulfilling workouts as you complete your therapy and adapt to a training regimen that’s wise and sensible yet tough.

Handle meaningful weight where you can to support systemic growth and meet personal strength challenges. Pulling movements, torso and leg work are your new targets: deadlifts, rows, pulldowns, midsection work, squats. Pressing movements and laterals and other shoulder work will require investigation, experimentation and compromise. No more bench presses and barbell inclines with any heavy weight in mind. Murder.

Warm up always with reps of the exercise you are applying.

You might find dumbbell work better than barbells, Smith press training a smart and only choice, rear delt exercises doable and side and front delt exercises a problem. Pressing strength will be diminished, but attaining maximum-intensity within each focused rep with light weights and 12, 10, 8, 6 rep schemes beneficial for delt growth (injured and 50 makes a man out of ya).

If you don’t make compromises demanded by the injury — if you insist on pushing or wanting to push heavy — you will not repair, and may re-hurt or hurt yourself further, be out of commission, frustrated and disappointed.

Otherwise, arrange your favorite volume training routine and go for it. Eat right, be sharp.

God’s strength… DD


Shoulder injury at work

I hurt my shoulder at work, and am now having trouble with bench pressing and overhead press. The doc said nothing is torn, and to just wait it out. What do you think about training — should I train around it?

Shoulder injuries are the most common and for obvious reasons: It’s a vulnerable rotating joint that is shown no mercy in work or play.

Warm it up each workout with light weights and put aside the bench and overhead press for now. Go to the dumbbells in various positions of incline to continue your pressing and delt training. The freedom of movement allowed by the dumbbells offers groove variations that avoid injury abuse. You’ll discover new resistance and range of motion that might (probably will) prove the dumbbell movements more productive than the bar.

Sometimes modified or abbreviated presses or laterals are doable and therapeutic. Guided machines — Hammer, Smith press, etc. — can often pull you through tough times. Don’t overload; exercise to build and re-build muscle only with determined thoughtful reps… not ballistic moves for now.

Watch yourself at work when reaching and extending while under load or resistance. On-the-job body harshness is a killer.

Hang tough,

DD


Another person with shoulder problems

I had a right shoulder fracture several years ago and read in your blog that dumbbell bench presses might not be good. I’ve been doing those and dumbbell flyes, which are pretty hard for me, but the machine flyes are worse. Also, I’ve been doing sidelying lateral raises for my shoulders and have noticed a clicking on my right shoulder. No pain, just clicking when I lower the weight. I don’t want to make my shoulder worse — Do you have any suggestions?

I suspect the faulty shoulder is one of those injuries the injured lifter works through — under, over and around. Pain is your guide. Warm up, using light weight and the snooping attention of a faithful hound dog. I would avoid the telltale clicking movements.

Working one shoulder at a time allows advantageous positioning for direct and favorable muscle engagement. Urge the damaged areas into play.

To accommodate my chronically injured shoulder, I sit on the end of a flat bench, legs spread apart for support, and lean forward slightly as I smartly thrust an agreeable dumbbell (15, 20 pounds) from between my legs to a place before me high and to the side. I contract tightly at the peak and fight the downward negative as best I can (3-4 cheat sets of 6 to 10 reps).

Lots of upper body muscle is involved, a big bonus.

Go, Godspeed… Dave


Lat exercises sore shoulders

I have shoulder impingement and the physical therapy folks tell me not to do above-the-shoulder exercises, like lat pulldowns for instance. Can I build my back by only doing back exercises where I keep my arms below my head?

Sorry, pal. Chicken-coop lats are your limit… jus’ jokin’

Seated lat rows are hard to beat:

http://www.davedraper.com/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/PmWiki/SeatedLatRowLowPull

Dave


Chest work with shoulder impingement

Since I have had shoulder impingement, I have reluctantly given up bench presses, and even flys, both dumbbell and machine. As an alternative I have been doing pullovers, both dumbbell and with the Nautilus pullover machine. Do you know of any other chest exercises that I could do?

Dump the bench press with ease — it’s a serious shoulder destroyer.

Can you do dips, machine dips, preferably? Lean into those with thoughtful range of motion and focus on the pecs. Good stuff – tris, pecs, delt, back

I like “light” flys, reaching to various degrees of radial pathway and with allowable range of motion. Retain them if you can.

Cable crossovers, left and right at once or singly with thrust and steady negative.

More resolutions will come to you as you juggle the iron…

Go… Godspeed… DD B72


Exercises for a shoulder injury

Last year I was working out in the gym when I started having shoulder pain and weakness. I immediately stopped working out for a month and went to the doctor when things didn’t get any better. He told me I strained my shoulder and to rest and take advil. I have been suffering a weak shoulder with a very taught tendon toward the back of my deltoid for a long time now. I have been working out with extremely light weights and would like to know of some good rotator cuff workouts. What shoulder exercises should I stay away from?

I don’t know what the problem is…even a good hands-on doc has a hard time accurately diagnosing and treating an injured shoulder. Sounds like overload and/or poor exercise execution in the bench. Injuries commonly reoccur throughout our continued training efforts. Always warm up, and use the bench press for light weight musclebuilding exercise only, not intense power building or you will sustain the injury forever.

Might need deep tissue muscle work or clinical care if the damage prolongs.

I’ll say this: Shoulder problems are prominent among athletes, especially lifters, and the bench press is the biggest offender. Put it aside and use dumbbells in the future — better muscle builder and safer by far. Don’t lay off, but work around the injury using common sense and pain as your guides. The most common rotator cuff exercises are inward and outward rotations done with bungy cord.

Be forbearing and hopeful — both qualities are needed in the healing process.

Be strong. God’s speed… DD


Nagging shoulder problem

Got a nagging right shoulder injury for past two months. Doesn’t hurt when I do overhead press or a straight curl or chinning, only hurts when I do a flat shoulder raise in front, not so much a lateral shoulder raise. It also hurts and audibly pops when I do push-ups first thing in the morning. Any thoughts? Of course, I recognize your disclaimer before you even say it, that you’re not an MD.

Sorry, sorry, sorry. I feel your pain but have no fix. Gets complicated in the shoulder region cuz of many straps and attachments, tendons and ligaments are under stress activating in high degress of rotation of the shoulder and long head of the biceps.

24-hour pain is often a signal surgery might be needed. I had a similar dilemma in the mid-90s and had open surgery for supra spinatus and long-head biceps repair.

If pain and disability persist beyond your personal red zone, have the region checked by orthopedic doc. Or maybe do that anyway, but perhaps get a second opinion if surgery is suggested before you feel the testing is thorough. Some surgeons think surgery fixes everything… or so I’ve been told.

Lay off the barbell bench press. Insufficient flexibility hampers natural muscle action. Go dumbbells to allow the hands to accommodate the natural course or groove in motion. I wouldn’t do pushups first thing in the morning, even if it didn’t hurt.

Rest, work around it, layoff… Ugh!

D


Lateral raises

I despise lateral raises. They’re difficult, but I can do them more easily if I do one arm at a time, alternating. Does that defeat the purpose of doing them?

I, too, perform lateral raises one side at a time. Injury led me to this action and I find alternate lateral raises less aggravating and more productive.

Stand and secure yourself by holding onto a rack, or sit and lean into the thrust. Pick a heavy weight and heave or a lighter weight and focus on contraction. Vary the deltoid target by changing body position… more fun… go, go, go.

dd


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