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A U.P. Personal Trainer’s Advice on Shoulder Health

Hi Nick

I don’t live in London and there are no personal trainers in my area who have your credentials so I hope that you can help me!

I suffered an a/c separation injury from a fall which was pinned Jan 2007 and pin removed Mar 2007.

I then did physio before getting the all clear from the physio and specialist in Sep 2007. I returned to normal activities and built up slowly.

I basically still suffer a lack of confidence with my training. I’m aware of good form etc and routinely incorporate scapular and rotator cuff exercises in my training as well as doing more pull then push moves.

I’m aware to retract/depress my shoulder blades when I bench (although I mostly do push ups/db work now and cycle in a bit of barbell benching).

Is it necessary to retract and depress my shoulder blades when db benching on a swiss ball? I find this nearly impossible with everything else to consider, even with a spotter?

My upper body training plan is basically:

Monday pull ups, DB chest press, single arm row, triceps extension, forearm, external rotator moves.

Thursday Bench/Push up, Row, Triceps push (usually floor press), Biceps, scapular circuit.

And I then do some shoulder presses or lateral raises at the end of a leg day, say Saturday.

I was going to do shoulder presses on a Monday but thought this is too much shoulder work all at once so had the idea to do it on a separate day…but then I thought doing shoulder stuff three days a week as opposed to two days a week is maybe too much….?

Finally, I was told side lying dumbbell abduction to 45 or 75 degrees is an external rotator move and that lateral raises are a deltoid move.

I’m not sure whether to do both moves in the same workout (say 2 sets of each) or to cycle them?

Hope I’ve not confused you and again, thanks for any personal training advice you can give and of course, your time.

Confused Chris.

Hi Confused Chris,

I am not that certain what you are asking as you don’t tell me your goals at all.

I will say this – if you are worried about your shoulder you should:

1. Not be thinking of training it 3 times a week. If you need to do direct shoulder work do it on your upper body days only.

2. Swiss ball work is pretty much a waste of time unless you are training abs or considering a career in the circus. You will find that on a stable surface you can lift more weight, which means more of a challenge to your muscles (whatever loading protocols you are using) and therefore a greater adaptive response.

Lying dumbell abduction (with a straight arm) is more of a regular deltoid exercise if you lay on your side. If you lay into an incline bench and then retract the scapula and raise the arm out at 45 degrees, then with a bit of work (it is a bit of a “feel” movement that requires good coaching/personal training) you will be working trap 3 and the scapula retractors which as you no doubt know is crucial for shoulder health.

All the best,


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