Shoulder Press Rx
Somerset compares overhead pressing to the last woman left in the bar at closing time: Just because going home with her is an option doesn't mean it's a good choice. If traditional shoulder presses cause discomfort, he recommends these options:
Solution 1: Half-kneeling dumbbell overhead press. Use a single dumbbell, held on the same side as your support knee, and press slowly.
Solution 2: Neutral grip dumbbell press. Seated or standing, hold the dumbbells so they're parallel to each other, with your elbows forward instead of flared out to the side. This creates more room for the arm to move without getting fish-hooked by the acromion.
Solution 3: Narrow grip barbell press. By holding the bar with your hands just above your shoulders, rather than outside of them, you can keep your elbows pointed forward on the way up and the way down.
Bench Press Rx
Shoulder joints are like a carpet: If you only walk on one part, eventually you'll wear a path in the part of you overuse, shortening the life of the carpet despite the fact most of it is still in good shape. It's called pattern overload, and the barbell bench press is a notorious overloader of your shoulder joints. Here's how to spread the stress around.
Solution 1: On the barbell bench press, change grips often. Somerset says going from wide to narrow grips, and to various points in between, helps reduce excessive wear and tear.
Solution 2: With dumbbells, switch to a neutral grip. As with the shoulder press, Somerset says you'll open more space in your shoulder joints when the weights are facing each other and your elbows are aligned with your torso, rather than perpendicular to it.
Avoiding Type Hype
Let's return to the idea of "body type workouts," especially the notion that the shape of your body, viewed from the outside, should somehow determine how you design your workouts. Ultimately, the process of getting bigger, leaner, and/or stronger is exactly the same. The basic movements patterns—squats, deadlifts, presses, rows, and chin-ups and pull-ups—are still the best tools to get the best physique possible.
But each of us has anatomical quirks that change the ways our bodies perform those movements. Along with the visible ones we discussed—long or short arms or legs, thick or thin torso—are structural challenges within the hip and shoulder joints that can limit range of motion in squats and deadlifts and literally tear shoulders apart after a few years of heavy chest and shoulder presses.
Maybe it's disappointing to learn you'll never squat below parallel, or that you simply can't do barbell bench presses without pain. But knowing your body is a lot better than the alternative.
"It allows you to make more informed training decisions and recognize the potential for injury," Cortes says.
Fewer injuries mean more training and better training, which help you look better and feel better. No matter your body type.