T Nation

Safe Shoulder Exercises


I posted a question, maybe around a month ago and recieved two responces,thanks to you two that did respond. On reflection, my question was very no-specific...

To put it briefly, I was asking about getting back to the gym after recent back surgery ( I was totally paranoid )L4-L5 disc and looking for some insight about the safest way to approach it. The answers I got back, were to get into the gym and take it seriously and stop sitting around talking about it. Exelent advise!

Well, I did and the talk has stopped, and even though it's only been about a month or so there is definate imropovement.

NOW a new question, I have more or less every body part covered, the weights are'nt great at the moment, but the reps are high. My shoulders are the problem, my PT'S ( both I would say are pretty serious lifters themselves )have told me "UNDER NO SURCUMSTANCE" am I to lift above my head.Which leaves my shoulder workout limited, they consist of:

  *Incline flyes
  *side lteral raises (incline)
  * and Incline dumbbell Press ( which I'm not really comfortable with the latter of the three) and swimming.

I've tried wide and reverse cable pull downs thinking they may be of some use, but I'm not sure if they're of any benifit.(?) Is there anyone who can come up with some new ,safe shoulder exersizes or variations of what I'm already doing. any help will be appreciated. I dont want to workout ,be happy with my physique, but have Don Knott's shoulders. Cheers fella's


Just remember whatever they say goes, above any advice you might find here online. They've seen you in person, and know what the real deal is.

I'd focus on barbell/dumbbell rowing, and flat benching (dumbbells may be more comfortable). Given your limited exercise menu, I'd focus on those compound lifts (which would hit the rear and front delts, respectively) and toss in your laterals for the finishing touches.



For some variations, I found using dumbbells/cable for the bench hit my shoulders a bit harder than using a barbell and they also allow one arm variations.

Lying down during your lateral raises helps take the traps out of the movement (also used as a rehab exercise).

Another shoulder (rehab) exercise I've seen is the dumbbell/cable push-out (Neider press?) which is a horizontal press with your torso in the vertical plane, this also works ya arms.

Face/neck pulls are great for the rear delts.

Cuban presses are cool but they may be risky given your no overhead stipulation. For a similar movement maybe try upright rows, but personally I'd stick to using dumbells or cables and go for external rotation of the shoulder.

Wish ya the best.


Being a paraplegic I've been forced to do some exercised differently. T2-T8 are held together with SS rods BUT, I don't have any discs that are in bad shape. So, I can still press overhead. Here are a few exercise that you might be able to use and/or adapt.

Lie face down on an incline bench that is at about 45-75 degrees. This will SMOKE the delts.

I've had great success with seated one-arm cable rows. Due to being a paraplegic, I lack quite a bit of balance. Therefore I use one hand between my knees, on the floor or bench, to brace myself. I start the move with my cable hand stretched to my feet and I pull in all the way to my hip bone with chest out and back arched. This move helped my back a lot AND always makes my delts sore.

You might also be able to get away with upright rows. If standing puts too much strain on your back, you can try them seated with dumbells. Holding the weights in front of you may still put too much strain on your back though.



Pushups with feet elevated. Add weight if you are/get strong enough (plate or chain). When you get really good at these, try handstand pushups.


I had some problems with shoulders a while back and had a PT introduce me to lateral raise breakdown sets.

Start with a set of dumbbells you can lateral 12 times (where the 13th would be hard), then drop 10 pounds and do 12 more, and so on until you are down to empty hands. do 12 more reps with no weight, and then do an overhead delt stretch (if that's allowed by your PT).

you'll get a wicked pump and burn, and your delts will blow up.


One of the best ways to get bigger shoulders is to ignore direct shoulder training altogether. They get plenty of stimulation from benches, rows, and pullups. A few sets of lateral raises here and there will get the middle head and you'll be good to go. Your rotator cuff with thank you, too.


Thanks for the response. Makes sense. I appreciate the time you took to respond. maybe I'll be looking for more advise, keep a look out for me cheers mate


Sorry It's taken so long to reply to your response, I'm having a hard time trying to negotiate T-Nation's web site. I tried a couple of time and all I got back was that there was an "error submitted"???

thanks for your input, will give it a go and let you know how it works out(if I dont screw thing up AGAIN! working out the web site).Thanks again, cheer pivot


Yeah. I used to do that years ago, foregot all about it. And it is a "blast", good thinking 99. Thanks for the response, will give it another go. cheers and thank for taking time to respond.pivot


Cheers Cressey, pulldowns and the bench dont bother me, in fact I think any pulldown (done right) can only be good for the back you know like a form of traction... ya think? But its the rows that bother me,paraniod I suppose. I know the correct way to "row" but I don't know the thought of rows seem to bother me. Go figure?? Thanks for the time you took to respond. Cheers pivot



I'm thinking that overhead presses are the worst for your shoulder. Is this correct?

Thank you for your response and your contributions to T-Nation.