If you’re lifting heavy at some point, you’ll have a joint that starts getting cranky and sore. This is a warning we should listen to.
We may need to take a break from working the muscles that affect the joint. But often, with a few simple adjustments, we can work around the troublesome area, let it heal and keep making gains.
One of the great things about dumbbells is they allow us more flexibility in where we choose to position our arms and hands. These slight changes can put us into a pain-free movement pattern.
Today we’re going to look at exercises and ways to modify them to allow us to train our whole body without joint discomfort.
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The bench press is a basic compound movement everyone loves to do, but shoulder issues can arise. One of the places we could feel pain is in the stretched position at the bottom of the movement as your elbow drops below the bench.
With a floor press, the ground becomes a stopper keeping your elbows from going too low. The next adjustment we can make is the angle of our upper arm in Relation to our torso. Changing this angle from 90 to 45 degrees reduces the risk of shoulder injury and discomfort.
One of the disadvantages of the floor press is getting the weight in place, as you can lift heavy with this exercise. If you don’t have someone to hand you the dumbbells, you can do this exercise unilaterally.
You don’t need to press from the floor in every case, simply adjusting the angle of your upper arm on a regular bench may be all you need to do to find a pain-free spot.
Another simple adjustment is to slightly increase the angle of the bench to about 15 degrees. On most benches it’s the first adjustment above flat. This has helps by reducing the internal rotation of the shoulder.
While we’re talking about pressing, a great exercise to work our triceps pain-free is the dumbbell squeeze press.
It’s also easier on the joints, so if you can’t find a good pressing movement for the chest, give the dumbbell squeeze press a try, and you can do it in both flat and incline positions.
When you’re low back is bugging you and bent over rows are out of the question. Chest-supported incline rows are a great option. You set the bench at about 30 degrees.
One of the best squat variations to protect our low back and take some stress off our knees is the dumbbell bench squat.
I do this by holding the dumbbells in the suitcase position, which makes it easier to maintain a neutral spine, as when the weight’s up high, there can be a tendency to be pulled forward as you lower down.
By consciously sitting back farther as you squat, you cause the shin to stay vertical, making it a more hip-dominant move. Doing this creates less stress on the knees, and it’s an effective modification for those with knee issues.
Hip thrusts are a great way to strengthen these muscles without stressing our knees and hips.
Hammer curls are the most elbow friendly, and if you’re troubled with elbow pain, varying your hand positioning can help—even turning them into a slightly pronated position, not a full-on reverse grip curl just enough to change the positioning of the tendons and bones in the forearm.
If we want to develop that superman width in our shoulders, we need to build the middle head of the delts. When it comes to compound exercises that work this head, we think of shoulder presses and upright rows. Both of these exercises are ones that often bother our shoulder joint.
It’s been found in a study done by the American council on exercise to target the middle delt even better than lateral raises. While also working the rear delt almost effectively as the seated rear delt raises, this is the 45% elbow out row.
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