It's a rare person that hasn't experienced some shoulder issues in their life. Whether in training or in other activities, tweaks in our shoulders can stop us from progressing and getting the most out of our workouts. Also, it's no fun to be in pain!
These are four of my go to exercises to keep my shoulders healthy and strong to both enhance my performance and help prevent injuries. Work diligently and consistently on these unconventional exercises and build your unbreakable shoulders!
4 Exercises to Build Unbreakable Shoulders
The trick to keeping your shoulders healthy is challenging their strength and mobility from various angles. These 4 exercises work the shoulders with different stresses from all directions.
It's a bit different than the “push” and “pulls” of basic calisthenic exercise, and that's how these will help bulletproof your shoulders. Work on them one at a time to get some reps and practice in, then chain them together for an efficient and effective shoulder program.
1. Shoulder Swings
Hang from a bar or rings (or other suspension device) and with a firm grip, swing your body back and forth. You should do two variations, one with the shoulders drawn down as you swing, and another where you are in a more relaxed hang. Both variations affect the shoulders in different ways and both are important for shoulder health.
2. High Froggers
This fundamental locomotive pattern loads the shoulders in a different way than lifting weights. In this closed-chain exercise, you have to create a stable base through your arms and shoulders to support the rest of your body.
Practice “stacking” your elbows over your wrists, your shoulders over your elbows, and your hips over your shoulders. Push hard through the ground the entire time and you'll strengthen your shoulders in this important alignment.
3. Plank Position Walks
Here you are in a stable plank position and moving your body laterally back and forth. This encourages the shoulders to be strong while supporting your body in motion. The goal here isn't speed, but coordinated and stable motion in a variety of patterns.
Shuffling to the side, crossing hands over, and changing where you place your hands in relation to your body are all great variants to practice and will stimulate multidirectional shoulder stability.
4. Crab Walks
Another familiar “playground” movement, crab walks place your shoulders in an unconventional position to receive stress. Start slowly and push down hard the entire time you are “walking” and you'll build significant strength in a short amount of time.
Learn to Flow and Bulletproof Your Shoulders
Once you get the hang of each of these exercises by themselves, you can combine them into a flow, moving smoothly from one exercise to the next. This continuous change of angles and stresses around the joint will help make your shoulders more adaptable to strains and forces encountered in all your training and daily activities.
The flow sequence I show in the video is just one example. Play around with different sequencing, changing the speed and position as you see fit and as you feel your body can handle.
If you want your body to be unbreakable (or as close to it as possible), you can't neglect your shoulders. They work hard in all pulls and presses. The more controlled flexibility and stability you have in the shoulders, the more force they'll be able to handle, and the more you'll be able to do with your body.
Ryan Hurst is the Program Director for GMB Fitness, with over 20 years of experience in strength and movement coaching. He holds black belts in Kendo, Judo, and Shorinji Kempo, and he practiced for 10 years as a competitive gymnast. These days, Ryan spends most of his time playing with his kids and helping others move better.
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