T Nation

Weak traps? Help.

My girlfriend just started training with me, and she’s having a few problems. I’m pretty sure it stems from a shoulder injury from a few years ago. She’s been seeing an ART guy and its helping some, but she has problems with pressing movements. Her left side always fails early and she starts lifting that shoulder off the bench when she gets fatigued. Maybe some sort of nerve impingement? or weak traps? I’m really not sure. I was thinking about trying that Alessi protocol from Booming Biceps pt 2… I’m really no good at assessing problems like this. Anybody have an idea?

No matter what other protocols you start, such as the ART and any other shoulder training, have her try “side raises”, that work, strengthen, and tie into the entire shoulder girdle. Start light of course, and this exercise also strengthens shoulder girdle; all delts; top of chest; especially traps, rhomboids, and upper back; a little biceps, triceps; and forearms. Take 2 db, palms facing your side, arms hanging down, then just “raise”, lift the bells under each underarm. You can only go so far, but with controlled movement, you can definately feel it! I didn’t have much shoulder girdle, traps, and especially upper back before I learned about this exercise, now they’re at the most muscular and I feel the strength, than with any other training exercises for that area. All with one exercise!! Of course, I still press and do side lats, but this is my baby of my shoulder training! I use it on shoulder day, and do back on another training day. Hope it helps!

Can you explain that exercise a lil better? I have a bad shoulder as well.

WAIT!!! I have had this problem for about 6 years, and it got to the point where I was in so much pain I couldn’t raise my arm above my head. Get her to go and see a physio that specialises in weight training/sports. My problem was that my external rotators were weak, and so were my middle and lower traps. There was not enough strength to hold my arm in the joint and it created huge problems. Get her to lay off horizontal and vertical pressing movements, and anything behind the neck. Only use a supinated grip for lat work, and don’t do any form of upright rowing. See the physio and take it from there.

Hold 2 dumbells with your palms facing into your sides. All you do, is to lift the bells directly under the underarms, as far as you can go. Start light of course, especially to get the feel of the movement. As you lift heavier bells, you can feel the shoulder girdle and traps rising and working in the contracted position, and you can feel the muscles work. Slow and controlled, and at the top of the movement, pause a second or more. Your traps are actually moving farther with this than you can with shrugs (definately my opinion, yet I have watched myself in the mirror many times) This is my favorite exercise!! Actually try to stuff the bells into your underarms! (you can’t, but you’ll see and feel the entire shoulder girdle working!

As far as impingements etc go it sounds like you need a propor diagnosis done, or at least find out from a/the qualified person if this is the case. I dont know what ART is but be sure he is qualified in this area of musculo-skeletal rehab (where nerves are concerned)

Weak rhomboids. Have her work on scapular retractions using the low cable. Alessi’s routine will help…

Can anybody explain that Shoulder Scaption exercise from the Alessi article a little bit better?


Shoulder scaption: Holding a pair of dumbbells, the athlete stands with the arms in the scapular plane (same position as a lateral raise) with the thumbs down. As the arms are raised, they begin to rotate externally (thumbs begin to rotate outward). By the time the arms are at shoulder level, the thumbs should be facing up. The elbows stay straight throughout the exercise.


It seems simple enough, but the picture shows the guy with the db’s above his head. It’s in issue 178 if anybody can help me out. Thanks alot everyone.