Tip: Bad Shoulders? Avoid This Chest Exercise

Protect your shoulders and pump up your pecs with this move instead.

Irritated shoulders and dumbbell flyes aren't exactly a match made in heaven. What makes dumbbell flyes great for growing your pecs unfortunately makes them a horrible choice for cranky shoulders.

When you're using dumbbells, the greatest load comes at the point where you're at the bottom in the furthest stretched position. Even if you're doing them correctly – not over-stretching and maintaining an active range of motion for your pecs – you'll still be loading your shoulders in a compromised position.

Dumbbell Flyes

That's not to say you shouldn't be doing dumbbell flyes. They can be a great bodybuilding exercise... but not if your shoulders are acting up.

Instead, try swapping them for cable flyes. Then, rather than doing regular cable flyes, try performing them standing slightly back in the cables. This changes the point of maximal load so you get more in the squeeze (contracted) portion of the flye, and less in the stretched portion.

How to Do It

  • Most cable flye variations will work. You can flye high to low, low to high, or directly horizontal.
  • Begin in your regular cable flye position, then step back a foot or two. You should now have your shoulders level with the cables or even a little behind.
  • From here do your flyes as per usual. As your hands get closer in, the load will hit you more.

Even if you don't have angry shoulders, this is a useful flye variation to load the fully contracted position more.

Gareth Sapstead is a leading strength and physique coach from the UK. He specializes in problem solving and breakthrough training techniques.

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