Bulletproof Your Shoulders

Bulletproof Your Shoulders: Our Top 10 Shoulder Exercises to Boost Shoulder Mobility

18-26% of people will experience shoulder pain at one point in their life. These injuries suck, and it can be hard to figure out why they happened. Between poor posture while sitting, being on our phones way too much, and poorly planned out lifting routines, our shoulders have become ticking time bombs of injury. Our chests start to tighten, shoulders begin to roll forward, and we begin to compensate for our imbalances.

But, for most of us, we can't cut down the time we are at a desk. Sadly, the time on our phones isn't going anywhere either. So what does that leave us with when it comes to fixing our imbalances? Answer: A good training program.

A good training program starts with building structural balance. One of the best ways to achieve structural balance in the shoulder girdle is by programming with a 2:1 pull to push ratio in our upper body training. Simply put, a 2:1 pull to push ratio is achieved by programming twice as many pulling movements as we do pushing movements over the course of the week.

In the Fitness Culture training app, we try to keep our ratio closer to 3:1. This ratio may seem hard to accomplish, but it’s pretty easy to expand your view of pulling movements to include more exercise variations. Movements like pull-ups, bent-over rows, seated rows, etc.. will be counted toward our number but there are many other exercises that count toward this ratio. External rotation movements, trap 3 raises, face pulls, and other prehab movements count toward this ratio as well. Add these in your warm-up and between sets during your rest period in training sessions, and you can easily achieve this ratio and keep your shoulders healthy over the long haul.

Five of our favorite movements to add to your program:

1. External Rotator Off Knee

2. Trap 3 Y-Raise

3. Powell Raise

4. YTW

5. 45 Degree External Rotation

Here are a couple different strategies we use to get exercises like the ones listed above in our programs as much as possible.

Warm Up

We hammer these movements in our warm ups any time we work our upper body. Push day, pull day, shoulder day, literally any time you are hitting your upper body it’s a good idea to properly warm up the external rotators of the shoulder and scapular retractors. Toss these movements into your warm up using light weight to get some extra work throughout the week.

Example Upper Warm Up 1
2 x 15 each – Powell Raise
2 x 15 each – External Rotator off  Knee
2 x 5 each – Single Arm Sliding Push-Ups
2 x 15 – Ring or TRX Rows
2 x 5 – Box Plyo Push-Ups

Example Upper Warm Up 2
2 x 10 each - Trap 3 Raise
2 x 10 each – 45 Degree External Rotation
2 x 8 each – Alternating  Medicine Ball Push Ups
2 x 15 – Supine Pullups
2 x 5 – Lying Medicine Ball Toss

During Your “Rest” Period

Taking a 3 minute break between bench sets gets boring and is not the best use of your time in the gym. Add some of these exercises in between sets. The amount of weight used for most of these exercises is relatively light so you’ll recover quickly enough to be ready to go for your next set of bench.

Example Push Day

1a. Bench Press
1b. Trap 3 Raise
Rest 2 minutes after superset

2a. Incline DB Bench
2b. Face Pulls
Rest 2 minutes after superset

3a. Decline Machine Bench
3b. Cable Chest Fly
3c. 45 degree external rotation
Rest 75 seconds after tri-set

4a. Dips
4b. Triangle Pushups
4c. YTW
Rest 75 seconds after tri-set

If you're ready to improve your shoulder health and finally get rid of that shoulder click, download this workout and test our favorite shoulder exercises today.