T Nation

Shoulder Exercises


I've heard of people cutting bicep training out of their programs, because of the training they recieve with other exercises like rows. I think I'm overtraining my shoulders due to the use they get in other exerises like dips and pull-ups. My shoulders seem to be the only muscle group that I'm having a problem with. Has anyone else cut out direct shoulder training due to overtraining them?


HuH?? Dips work the triceps and lower chest, Pull-ups work the biceps and lats. Neither would have any overtrainig effect on the deltoids. Further, the shoulders can take alot of work. I wouldn't worry too much about overtraining them. Since benching and curling activate the front deltoids to some extent you might want to focus on the medial and posterior delts in your shoulder work.

Give a more detailed account of your shoulder training and goals if you want more detailed recommendations or advice. Till then, maybe think more about nutrition and proper rest to alleviate any overtraining symptoms.

Good Luck!


perhapns you are doing too many pressing movements, which i'm sure you has alot front delt involvement, perhaps you are not giving enough rest in btwn shuolder and chest days(depending on what type of program you are doing). i personally have never had too much soreness in the medial and rear delts, but alot of pressing can give you some pretty sore front delts. also try doing some rotator cuff work, can do wonders for shoulder pain.


Maybe it's just me, but when I do dips, my front delts tend to give out before my triceps. For example, today I was doing BB rows, and my posterior delt was aching so much that I had to stop after only a couple of sets. Basically, I'm 230 right now, and want to get up to about 250, so I'm in a mass building phase. For the last couple of weeks, I've been doing push presses for shoulders, combined with lateral raises. It just seems like the pain in my shoulders, which is a sore/tired pain not an injury pain, is inhibiting other exercises.


I'm actually doing chest and shoulders on the same day. In a chest/shoulders/tri & a back/bi & leg day split.


They work delts more than chest

They work rear delts hard as well

Just not true

So you understand how curling stresses the delts, but you really think that dips don't? Time for some study, I'd say.

Yes you can overtrain delts quite easily. Ask this same question on Prime Time to a real coach and you'll get a good answer. No offense to Kruiser, he is just mistaken.



Also worth mention is that many shoulder probs come from the high amount of pressing opposd to the Low(er) amount of pulling. This is due to imbalances in muscles including the Shoulder. They rotate in opposing fashion when say doing a Bench press and bent over row.

Just one to throw out there.


I'm in the same boat and have been instructed to do more rowing. I've noticed that if I try to lift too heavy on rows, it seems I overpower the smaller shoulder stabilization muscles and it really becomes all about the lats and biceps.

But if I do a lighter weight that really allows me to contract those muscles at the top, I get a better sense of feel there.

So, I'm guessing the rows should not be done with too heavy a weight, or else you're just hitting the bi's and lats and not really the teres minor, etc.

Does that sound right to anyone?


I didn't mean to imply that the shoulders can't be overtrained, just that they can take alot more work than most people think. I have to disagree with mastermind on any serious activation of the delts in pullups and dips though. Maybe if you lean way forward when you dip that would bring in the anterior delt as a synergist, but not as much as the pecs. With pullups, however, no way. That is the antagonist motion to an overhead press.

Of course if you're doing them underhanded (chin-up) and leaning back you'd bring in some rear shoulders, but I assume you're talking about a regular pull-up.

I've had about every shoulder pain you can imagine including that lactic acid/fatigue feeling you mentioned but I still find that even with short rests I can usually get in several more sets that I thought I could. The delts are relatively small muscles (for most of us), and like the forearms and calves, you have to deal with some lactic acid pain when you work them hard.

Please be careful with you shoulders too. If you feel anything other than fatigue pains get checked out by a good physical therapist. I had bad imbalances in my rotator cuff and my PT recommended some great execises and stretches that have kept me pain free over a year now.


No way man. Mastermind is completely right. if you don't think that your shoulders are heavily involved with both dips and pullups then you are doing something very wrong. dips hit the front delts very hard and even work into the medial delts regardless of how far forward you are leaning. True the farther forward you lean the more they are brought into play but even performing the motion completely vertical brings them into play.

Pull ups and chins majorly work the rear deltoid and even into the medial a litlle bit. it is the antagonist motion to an overhead press WHICH MEANS that those muscles are heavily involved when working the antagonist muscle. you don't think you use your lats when doing an overhead press. the barbell row is the antagonist of the bench press. you don't think you use your lats when you bench? why do you think powerlifters work their middle backs and lats so hard. that's also why they tell you to do a light set for the antagonist muscle group before a heavy set of your target muscle group. I.E. light set of rows before heavy set of bench.


I think were getting away from Equilibriums' issue here.

Mastermind and cs, take a look at this link for an intersting breakdown of muscle use during exercises. You'll see that the delts are not listed even as synergists in the pull-up. You'll also see I was mistaken about the dips, the anterior delt is listed above the pecs. I forgot they're responsible for pulling the upper arm forward as well as up (Oops). Also, cs, I realize that the lats may help stabilize in the military press, but they're not by any means prime movers, look it up, they're not even listed in the shoulder press section.

Now back to the real point of this thread:

Equilibrium, how about just dropping some of your direct shoulder work if you feel that overtraining is a problem? Giving up dips and pull-ups because they provide synergistic or stabilizing work for the delts seems to me like throwing out the baby with the bathwater. You also mention that you do chest and shoulders on the same day, that could certainly overtax the delts. Can you change up your routine for a week or two to see how the shoulders respond? I don't know your goals but you sound like a pretty big boy. If I benched and overhead pressed at my limits on the same day I'm sure I'd be feeling some delt pain too. Everyone is different, I can't push my shoulders hard enough to feel any soreness no matter how much work I throw at them, they just keep taking it and get bigger and stronger.

Again, please be sure it's not some subtle shoulder capsule or rotator cuff injury. Those have really caused problems for me in the past and it's not fun. Good Luck.


They are under chin ups...

Also, I work at a physical therapy clinic, and I can tell you the three main exercises for scapular muscles (Infraspinatus, Teres Minor, Subscapularis and Supraspinatus) go as follows:


Remember to go light on these (5-10 pounds) as you are activating much smaller muscles. If you've never done them before, you'll feel it.



Yes, I realize that you can activate the rear delts with a (supinated grip) chin-up, especially if you pull in hard at the top. I suppose you could also activate the left pinky toe during pull-ups if you want to. The point is that Equilibrium is trying to alleviate an over worked condition in the shoulders. I'm suggesting he focus on changing the routine of his primary movers and not worry about synergists and/or stabilizers. Doing bench, dips, and overhead front presses on the same day could be too much for the anterior delts. The presses are the exercises he should be worrying about, not pull-ups or dips.

BTW, this may all be a moot point..
Equilibrium are you still reading this thread ???


I'm still reading this thread. I've come to the conclusion that I need to
1. Give my direct shoulder exercises a rest for a week.

  1. Not train shoulders on the same day as chest.

  2. Drop the BB push-press for a little while, I may of been bringing the bar a bit far back, causing a bit of shoulder inpingement. This may of been what was giving me problems with my rear delt when I was doing pullups.

Thanks guys for your input. I'll update this post when I'm back doing shoulders and back on track.