In overhead presses, many people tend to hunch their shoulders up to their ears, which increases tension and can lead to neck and shoulder injuries. “Shoulder injuries are the most common bugaboo in the gym,” says Patrick Henigan, a certified personal trainer and owner of Jacksonville Fitness Academy in Jacksonville, Florida. “The shoulder joint is an incredibly complex ball and socket, which hosts multiple muscles and ligaments—a lot can go wrong.” When doing an overhead press, make sure you’re focusing on pulling your shoulders down away from your ears, or opt to do some push-ups—a safer alternative—instead. “It still works the front head of your deltoid muscles, but the range of motion is much more familiar to most trainees and provides a safer environment for the scapula to move,” says Henigan.
“The only reason the bicep curl is dangerous is the human ego,” says Henigan. “People go way too heavy on the bicep curl, forcing their shoulder to internally rotate at the bottom of the movement and pull their scapula towards their ears.” To ensure you don’t get injured while still working your arms, substitute a row for a curl. “You’ll still force your biceps to work, but it will be in a much safer range of motion that actually forces more muscles to work harder,” says Henigan. (Find out how to turn household chores into more of a workout.)