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Shoulder Press Working Traps, Not Shoulders


Hi all, I was doing some standing barbell shoulders presses yesterday and i felt my traps were working harder than my delts.. So then i decided to give seated db shoulder presses a try but it still felt like my traps were working harder than my delts..
Has anyone else experienced this at all?

I asked a personal trainer who said it could be due to my weak rotator cuff's.. Could this be the reason?
I tried searching for this but couldn't find anything..


hmmm, well it's definitely possible this could be happening, raise your arms above your head and if you focus, you can raise them up while keeping your traps relaxed, or you can flex your traps up and there is a difference.

I'm not sure why though, maybe you should try next time to focus harder on keeping your traps down? if you do have weak rotator cuffs ( and honestly who has rotator cuffs that are too strong?) throw in some more rear delt work in your program.


Your traps are either tight or compensating for a strength or flexibility problem in your shoulders. Go for lighter weights and work on your form. Keep the traps down while pressing up, and make sure the weight stays straight overhead. Make sure your abs are braced, like someone's about to punch you in the gut.

A good resource to read on this site is the "Shoulder Savers" article series from Eric Cressey.


http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding/traps_and_overhead_lifting I had a thread about the problem.

The closest thing you can do without working your traps is incline bench.


I have this problem, but with my right shoulder not both. It's very hard to focus on relaxing it while lifting a weight, i been trying doing it without weights at home but it's still quite difficult.


maybe your serratus muscles are weak. The serratus rotates the scapulae so that the arms can be extended overhead.

Try this: pull your shoulder blades together and down, like everyone recommends you do when you bench press. Now raise your arms. Feels funny, doesn't it?

Your traps are probably compensating for the serratus' inability to rotate the scapulae against a load. Since the serratus can't adequately pull the bottoms of the scapulae outward, the traps compensate by pulling the tops of scapulae inward.

Besides strengthening the serratus, try doing all shoulder presses in the bottom-half of the range of motion only.


Thx for the prompt reply.. I honestly do think my rotator cuffs are real weak. So i'm adding in a rotator cuff and back day.


I'm gonna start working on my shoulder flexibility and rotator cuff strength and i might stop overhead pressing for the time being.
I've read the shoulder savers article and i'm gona incorporate a couple of the exercises recommended.
Thx man.


Yer i'll start working on my serratus muscles on my rotator cuff/back day.
As for your little test. As soon as i raised my arms, my traps tensed up real hard..
Doing shoulder presses in the bot. half sounds like a good idea.


glad I could help