T Nation

DB Press - Cramp

I was doing dumbbell military presses with my palms facing each other and my left trap/neck muscles cramped up. I immediatly stopped the set. I had the biggest knot at the base of the neck on the left side. I could not tell if it was neck muscles or traps.

I was able to work it out some. I went on to different exercises with no problem. It still complained when I was home.

Is there a way to prevent this?

I’m just curious if you had your shoulder blades retracted and depressed. I can sort of visualize how that would tax the neck/traps if your shoulders were rolled forward. The few times I’ve injured my shoulder I’ve just had to make sure and really “set” my shoulders when I press, being sure to keep my upper back tight, shoulders back and shoulder blades pulled down.

Anyway, if that’s not the issue and this is all old news to you I apologize.

[quote]conorh wrote:
I’m just curious if you had your shoulder blades retracted and depressed./[quote]

I do that when I do bench presses. I was standing doing military dumbell presses.

Am I to also have the shoulder blades retracted and depressed for the military press as well?

Hmm, it appears I spoke too soon. I recall Eric Cressey mentioning that not depressing/retracting the shoulder blades open up the subacromial space, that is the area under your shoulder blades during overhead presses.

So, I guess what I meant was if you are consciously keeping your shoulder girdle tight. Also, try doing some light trap work before your presses, also stretching them. I think it was on Dr. Squat’s site years ago I read about how many pressing injuries actually stem from tightness/strain in the traps and neck.

I was in a car wreck in high school that tweaked my traps/neck at the base of my neck on the back of my shoulder, and it ruined my overhead work for quite some time, so I feel there is some merit to this.

Hope I haven’t clouded the issue even more and I genuinely hope you find these thoughts helpful.

Dehyration is also a reason for cramps, do you drink enough? Not just when training but throughout(sp) the day?

Salt balance is important, we need the proper amounts of sodium AND potassium. Sodium is easy, that normal tablesalt. Bananas are high in potassium so a few bananas a day can make wonders if you’re prone to cramping.

Do I have to mention that it’s also important to warm up ALL muscles in the area you’re going to train?

I get the same problem when I do militaries that way. So I just stopped doing them.
I find palms facing forward is a little better on the traps, but my new favorite is Hammer Strength iso lateral shoulder press.
Also, I found that I must train traps after shoulders, or I get the same problem.
As far as regular muscle cramps go, a deficiancy in water, salt or minerals can cause them, and MOST bodybuilders are mineral deficiant. I take a high quality multi-mineral as well as a multi vit-mineral. I haven’t had a cramp in ages.
That’s my 2 cents.


I started doing lateral neck flexion stretches. It really works great. I do them before the DB Presses and if I sense a problem I do them between sets.

I am very hydrated so fluids are not a problem for me. Electrolytes may be a problem even though I consume a multi-vitamin/mineral tablet every day. I do not think the electrolytes were a problem the day I cramped up because I did not cramp anywhere else.

Thankyou for your responses.