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TOPIC: Deltoid Muscles Hurt When Doing Barbell Squats

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September 1, 2013 4:01 PM
Hello! This may sound weird, but I need help figuring this thing out. Every single time I do wide stance barbell squats, my outer deltoids/outer ticeps (where they meet, I guess?) are killing me. I have asked numerous trainers and my husband and I am holding the barbell correctly. It even happens on the Smith machine. I don't think the weight is too much because I can complete my sets with good form. What is going on? In between sets, I can barely move my arms right away because they hurt so bad. Is it possible that my arms are too short? Silly, I know. What else could it be? I like doing them and I'm seeing results, so I'd hate to give it up. It's just so weird. Does this happen to anyone else? Thanks in advance for any helpful advice!
September 1, 2013 8:21 PM
is it possible that flexibility is an issue? and are your hands/wrists under the bar trying to actually support the weight or is the weight comfortably resting on your back/traps and your hands are just there to keep it in place?
September 1, 2013 8:32 PM
It sounds as if you might be trying to lift the bar with your arms. Maybe you aren't trying to, but, you kind of are without knowing it. I think that might be about the spot where you would feel tension if you were to just try and lift the bar up from that position.

Just a weird guess.
September 1, 2013 8:33 PM
What kind of program are you doing? Do you warm up or go straight to the weight you're going to do? I doubt arm length would be a problem. Is it where you're laying the bar or a flexbility problem? What kind of pain? Like a something is digging into me pain, a things are stretched to far pain, or a particular body feels weak and strained pain? Where are your thumbs when you do the squat? On the top or on the bottom part of the bar?
Edited by CoderGal On September 1, 2013 8:33 PM
September 1, 2013 8:58 PM
Hmm...Try this: Take some gym chalk and rub it on the back of your shirt where it comes into contact with the bar (Which should be on your posterior deltoids). Then let me know whether that has any impact on your pain.
  43764648
September 1, 2013 9:18 PM
QUOTE:

It sounds as if you might be trying to lift the bar with your arms. Maybe you aren't trying to, but, you kind of are without knowing it. I think that might be about the spot where you would feel tension if you were to just try and lift the bar up from that position.

Just a weird guess.


kinda, probably something like this ^^ I can't think what else it could be.

Do you work your whole body? Maybe you have some weak links bringing other muscles into the mix that shouldn't be.
September 2, 2013 2:53 AM
Thank you all for responding. DavPul, I really do think it's a flexibility issue. When on the Smith, my arms start to hurt without me even lifting the bar. Right when I get in position. CoderGal, it's a "stretched too far" kind of pain. My thumbs are wrapped under the bottom part of the bar going up. My fingers are wrapped over the top part going down. I feel I have a better grip on the bar that way. My husband said it doesn't matter. ?? GuitarJerry, maybe I am trying to lift with my arms. My husband mentioned yesterday to me that I should be able to lift the bar with my body and barely use my arms. That's when we tried with just the bar (no plates). It was very light and I feel like I barely used my arms, but the pain was still there. It is absolutely a "stretched too far" pain. Ttippie, what is gym chalk? How would that help? Mayra, I follow Jamie Eason's LiveFit program and I was solely working on legs yesterday. The day before I was working on shoulders/abs. The last time I worked on biceps/back the day before my legs workout. My arms are sometimes still sore from the day before, but not usually. Okay, so if it is a flexibility issue, what do I do about it? My husband said maybe i just can't do those anymore. Please tell me that quitting this workout is not necessary. Thanks again, everyone!
September 2, 2013 3:00 AM
It's not uncommon when you proportionally lift heavy as **** for your body height size for that to happen. You can also try seeing if you like high bar vs. low bar squats see if it eases some of that pain. The bar is discomforting to me, but I just rely on heavy sumo dead lifts instead of heavy squats... I just do higher reps on squats.

Edit: You could try front squats as well.
Edited by Warchortle On September 2, 2013 3:01 AM
  33314543
September 2, 2013 3:06 AM
If you can't do squats, you can always do Jefferson squats or Bulgarian squats. I do the latter and it's certainly worked the legs.

http://youtu.be/cDsKn4cGm2w

http://youtu.be/FocdSeqzuas

I don't do heavy BB squats because to get in the right position, it feels like someone's sticking knives in my shoulders. (Climbing injury.)
Edited by darrensurrey On September 2, 2013 3:08 AM
  20496170
September 2, 2013 3:13 AM
Sounds like a flexibility issue, I have rotator cuff issues that cause similar pain if I don't keep an eye on it. Before squatting try some simple warm ups. Like arm circles, believe it or not, those help me immensely. Also, stay off the Smith machine, it just leads to bad form and causes more inuries than anything else.

Another good shoulder flexibility exercise is "shoulder dislocations."
http://youtube.com/watch?v=hEPlDmu5pBk&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DhEPlDmu5pBk

Also, are you doing high bar or low bar squats? Some people can't do low bar squats without pain due to flexibility issues, if that's the case try high bar squats.
September 2, 2013 5:58 AM
Your hands should follow out straight from your arm. Not bend at the wrist. Try putting your thumbs on top. Placing your thumbs on top make sure you do not lift with your wrists. That would cause deltoid muscles to hurt since it did for me when I put my thumb on bottom (and I thought my hands were fairly straight and didn't think I was lifting with my seems but I was wrong). And I don't think I have a flexibility problem (I can put my arm around my back and wrap my hand around the other side of my waist until I'm touching the opposite side of my waist in the front... Unreasonably flexible). Not to mention I've seen some pretty unreasonable inflexible dudes squatting... They're bar position just changes.

If you want a good book on squat positioning and problems/solutions try starting strength.
Edited by CoderGal On September 2, 2013 6:03 AM
September 2, 2013 6:08 AM
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Try thumbs over bar or hands over bar like this ^^.
  26854327
September 2, 2013 6:19 AM
You could also try a safety squat bar (SSB) if your gym has one. Most people find they need to lower the weight when transitioning from a traditional barbell to an SSB, so be wary of that.

If you'd rather the traditional barbell, or an SSB isn't available, you could just widen your grip a little bit and work back to where your grip is now. Or switch from low-bar squats to high-bar squats (from PL-style squats to Oly-style squats) so the weight sits on your upper traps vs. your delts. Either should fix the problem while you work on your flexibility (if flexibility is even an issue, I usually find when I change my grip width the resulting 'stretch' is fine after a few sessions... you may have a genuine impingement).

Also seconded on gripping the bar with your thumbs over the top. Squats are one of the few lifts where a "thumbless" type grip is beneficial.
  11453925
September 2, 2013 6:27 AM
QUOTE:

Image not displayed

Try thumbs over bar or hands over bar like this ^^.


^ This. A barbell loaded for squats is (should be) far too heavy for your wrists and arms to comfortably support in position under the bar. It should, instead, rest across your back with your hands and arms simply pulling it into your body for support.

Watch this: http://vimeo.com/30763907
September 2, 2013 6:36 AM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

Image not displayed

Try thumbs over bar or hands over bar like this ^^.


^ This. A barbell loaded for squats is (should be) far too heavy for your wrists and arms to comfortably support in position under the bar. It should, instead, rest across your back with your hands and arms simply pulling it into your body for support.

Watch this: http://vimeo.com/30763907


flowerforyou
  47819967
September 2, 2013 8:29 AM
Man, you guys gave me some great pointers. I will try using my thumbs/hands over the bar next time. I have widened my grip further out and it didn't help. I do about a 10 minute warm up, but I have never done arm circles. I'll give that a shot as well. Funny, I had no idea there was a difference between high bar and low bar squats. I'm pretty sure I do the low bar squats. I will have to google some videos and try whichever one I'm not doing. I've had so many people telling me to stay away from the Smith machine. This time, I will. Okay, if all else fails I really appreciate all the alternatives suggested. Heavy sumo deadlifts (I do plain deadlifts and one legged deadlifts), front squats (love the sound of those!), Jefferson and Bulgarian squats. I'll give all of those a try. Thank you so much everyone!
September 2, 2013 8:54 AM
Front squats are a good supplement to back squats, but I'd never use them as a replacement for back squats, they work a completely different set of muscles (mostly quads, much less posterior chain involvement.)
Edited by tigersword On September 2, 2013 8:54 AM
September 2, 2013 8:58 AM
put your thumbs on top of the bar too - so the bar is being completely supported by your back and not your wrists - i think mark rippetoe has some videos on youtube showing this.

edit: sorry guys, just saw the rest of the posts with the 'thumbs over the bar' pics - must read whole thread! :/
Edited by 3laine75 On September 2, 2013 9:00 AM
  16043291
September 2, 2013 9:03 AM
yeah, like others have said, it could be positioning. and if you are grabbing it with your thumb, you might be having a death grip on it, tightening your forearms and other arm muscles.

http://stronglifts.com/squat-bar-position/
  22872058
September 2, 2013 9:08 AM
Thanks. I'll look into Mark Rippetoe's videos. I've familiar with the name and heard he's very good. Tigersword, front squats work mostly quads? This is good to know. My motto right now is 'it's all about the glutes'. Seriously. My gluteus maximus needs work. lol! I really want to replace the barbell squats with something that will really work this area. Because, like I said, it's all about them glutes right now. And hammies. Can't forget those. wink
September 2, 2013 9:10 AM
Okay. I've done Livefit. AWESOME.

Didn't read rest of replies so sorry if repeat...

Try to keep your arms aligned with your body during the movement. I find it helps to tighten my lats. I used to go down with arms/elbows flaring up and that somehow created strain (thank goodness I was corrected). Could you be doing that and then 'hoisting' the weight with your arms as a result? Yes, if you fatigued your shoulders previously, you could be feeling that.
September 2, 2013 9:19 AM
QUOTE:

Image not displayed

Try thumbs over bar or hands over bar like this ^^.


OP if you try this, please let us know how it went.
September 2, 2013 9:23 AM
QUOTE:

Image not displayed

Try thumbs over bar or hands over bar like this ^^.

geni! I never thought about putting my whole hand over the bar like that. I have a wrist injury right now and hopefully maybe that well help with my problem right now. Thanks!
Edited by CoderGal On September 2, 2013 9:23 AM
September 2, 2013 9:27 AM
Capt., watched the SL video (dude called me a hunckback) and I must say that my leg positioning is way different. The trainer told me to move my legs far forward to get a better squat. I'm not standing in a straight line like in the video. My feet are really forward, so I'm stretching back a lot (I feel) to grab the bar. I thought that was correct. He told me that and a guy at the gym told me that. Would that cause strain on my delts? I'm thinking more rotator cuff now.
Mayra, I am loving this program! So glad you liked it and had great results (obviously from your pics) with it!
September 2, 2013 9:27 AM
QUOTE:

Thanks. I'll look into Mark Rippetoe's videos. I've familiar with the name and heard he's very good. Tigersword, front squats work mostly quads? This is good to know. My motto right now is 'it's all about the glutes'. Seriously. My gluteus maximus needs work. lol! I really want to replace the barbell squats with something that will really work this area. Because, like I said, it's all about them glutes right now. And hammies. Can't forget those. wink

Mark Rippetoe is the Author of Starting Strength btw (the book I recommended). It's a good read, I'm enjoying it.

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