5 Easy Tweaks to Protect Your Shoulders During Circuit Training


Weightlifting during circuit training builds strength, but it can also be tough on your shoulders. Here are five tips to prevent common injuries.

For busy people trying to fit a quick workout into their days, circuit training is a good option that allows you to build strength and endurance without taking up hours of your free time.

Your circuit training routine may incorporate resistance training with free weights, dumbbells, and kettle bells to bolster strength. Some circuit training programs also mix in spurts of aerobic activity, such as jogging in place, rowing, and stationary cycling. Typically, it takes between 30 minutes to one hour to complete the circuit.

A circuit training workout that centers on resistance and weight training will definitely tone your muscles. However, if you aren’t doing the repetitions properly or push yourself too far, a serious injury can occur. Shoulder trauma typically seen in weightlifters can include torn tendons in the biceps, triceps, or pectoral muscles, or a rupture of the labrum cartilage between the ball and socket joint of the shoulder, known as a SLAP tear. Athletes may also suffer from AC joint osteolysis or “weightlifter’s shoulder,” which is marked by small fractures in the collarbone.

You can avoid these injuries by taking some precautions before and during your circuit training session. The five tips listed below are easy ways to protect your shoulders from harm as you work on getting in top shape.


Before lifting weights, warm up your muscles with stretching exercises. Putting too much pressure on a cold muscle ramps up the possibility of injury, while elongated and relaxed muscles are less likely to suffer damage. Stretch again after you’ve completed the workout. Each time you do circuit training, spend at least 5 to 10 minutes warming up and cooling down.


It may be tempting to go for the heaviest weights right from the start, but if you haven’t mastered the proper positioning for each exercise, you may risk injury. Ease into each new exercise by concentrating on your body’s alignment and zeroing in on the muscles you want to strengthen. Use lighter weights, and focus on lifting in a slow and steady motion.


How do you know you’ve chosen the right weight? If your muscles feel tired as you near the end of your repetitions (usually two reps before completion), then you’re at the right weight. If you cannot complete all repetitions, switch to a lighter weight. Conversely, we recommend switching to a heavier weight if you feel your muscles aren’t getting enough of a workout. Add one to two pounds for arm exercises, and two to five for legs.


As with any intense exercise routine, working out too often can do more harm than good. Give yourself at least two days between each circuit training session for your muscles to heal and rebuild.


Weightlifting inevitably leads to aches and pains. In most cases, the soreness is temporary and will resolve itself in time. You can reduce minor pain and swelling by placing ice on the affected limb or joint. However, using heat is not recommended because heat increases blood flow, which can cause swelling and may worsen any possible injury.

Once the pain subsides, you can hit the circuits again. Although you may want to exercise through the pain, it’s important to recognize the difference between normal discomfort from a vigorous workout and what could be a serious condition. Persistent pain, numbness in the injured area, or the inability to move part of your body can be signs of a severe injury requiring physical therapy or even surgery.

If you’re suffering from shoulder pain or another type of weightlifting injury, set up an appointment with one of the top orthopedic specialists at New York Bone & Joint. Bookings can be made by phone or online.

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