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Building Big Shoulders with Neck/Back Issues

If you are an avid weightlifter, chances are you have had some injuries here and there. More than likely you know what it is like to have a stiff neck or even a sore back as well. Much of these injuries, big and small, are due to being overworked and compression problems on the spine.


When looking at the shoulders (deltoids), much of the shoulder work people do in the gym are press based movements above the head. A lot of other press-based movements are for other body parts like chest and legs that do not involve weight going over the head but still do compress the neck and spine during the reps.


As time goes on you may notice the pressure in the neck increasing or even back pain when trying to perform a shoulder movement because you are pressing over the head. This puts a lot of emphasis once again on compressing the spine which leads to discomfort in the neck and back.


One can easily work around the issues in the neck and back that are caused from pressing movements.


A start would be implementing a dumbbell raise routine. The raising motion is more of a pull than push and takes a lot of strain off the spine and neck. Starting off light of course to see how it feels, focus on 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps of both side lateral raises and front raises. This can be performed sitting down or standing.


Another option would be utilizing the cable machines. Cable machines provide a much smoother pathway for reps, especially for shoulders. Upright rows are an amazing movement for shoulder building. You can switch between a closer, narrower grip which will help in targeting the traps and then moving out to a wider grip which puts more emphasis on the side head of the delts. Perform 3-4 sets of about 10-12 reps of close and wide grip up right rows.


Another awesome movement that takes strain off the neck is rope face pulls for rear delt work. A lot of people complain about pain in the neck when doing rear delt flies either on a machine or leaned over with dumbbells. Rope face pulls will allow you to use more or a direct pulling motion with your arms and really target the back delt muscles. 3 sets of 12-15 reps will do and put a lot of focus on the squeezing of the shoulder blades together than the weight being used.


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