Shoulder Mobility

Want To Keep Your Shoulders Healthy? Use These Mobility Exercises.

Having shoulders that are not flexible can limit or impact your performance on many lifts like the squat and bench press. These are two of the most popular lifts out there and none of us can afford these issues. These nagging shoulder problems are one of the most frequent woes for many bodybuilders, weightlifters, and powerlifters alike. The great news is it can be reduced by making a few changes to your workout routine.
If there is something I have had to take more seriously, that I did not in the past, it is improving shoulder mobility and shoulder health. Even though I have done well listening to my body over the years, anytime my shoulders, or any other body part said it needed a break or time off, I did it. The biggest benefit to this is it has expanded how long I have gone without injury or other issues. But, I do wish I had incorporated more shoulder mobility earlier in my training journey as it is now a necessity. Fast forward to now, 42 years old, and there is really no option to build this into my programming. If you check out my Renegade Workout, you will see how I do this today.

Shoulder Mobility Is Important For Everyone

This is certainly true but it is even more important for us weight lifters and strength trainees. The last thing any of us want is an injury, no matter how small to keep us out of the gym or to have negative impacts on our workouts. Small nags can also take us away from completing our favorite exercises. Believe it or not, I usually first notice shoulder mobility issues when I barbell squat. Why? This does put our shoulders into a tighter position and the shoulder flexes and rotates to keep the barbell in the correct position. You can mitigate this with a safety bar when squatting but this is only a solution on your squat. This does not fix the underlying issue and the goal should be to work towards improved shoulder mobility. can help if this occurs often for you.

What Can Cause Shoulder Mobility issues?

Several things can create or cause shoulder mobility problems but here are some of the most common reasons for inflexible shoulders.
  • You have a muscle imbalance
  • Poor Technique is performed on other lifts
  • Shoulder impingement
  • Instability in the shoulder
  • Overuse of the muscle – Very common for strength trainers as our shoulders get considerable use even outside your direct shoulder training days. When you train your chest and triceps, your shoulders will get used considerably.
What Are Some Benefits Of Performing Mobility Exercises Or Building Them Into Your Work Out Routine?
  • Increase your range of motion.
  • Reduce tension.
  • Improve flexibility
  • Prevent injury.
  • Prolong your strength training
  • Not allowing inflexible shoulders to negatively impact your workouts.
How do you mitigate or be proactive in reducing shoulder issues?
  1. Reduce the weight you use – lower weights and higher reps and yes, you can still gain muscle. This is also easier on the joints.
  2. Reduce the number of sets you perform in a given week for your shoulders
  3. Reduce the frequency of training your shoulders – more rest & recovery
  4. Include Shoulder Mobility exercises into your program
  5. Check your form on all of your exercises. If you are doing something wrong, this could gradually cause discomfort.

My Favorite Shoulder Mobility Exercises

Along with Rotator Cuff exercises, improving shoulder mobility is a fast track to keeping your shoulders healthy and ready for your grueling pec exercises and anterior delts work. Here is a list of my favorites.
  1. Banded Front to Backs
        • Grab a set of exercise bands and grab each end in a hand.
      • Start with the bands in front of your waist with light tension in the band
      • Keep your arms straight and move them up and out to go above and behind your head as far back as you can comfortably go.
      • Return to the starting position.
  1. Around-the-worlds
      • Lay face down on the ground and set up two kettlebells, dumbbells, or other stationary objects at about 45 degrees from your shoulders.
      • Start with your arms straight out in front of your head.
      • Move them up and behind you, making sure they go above the object, all the way to your back.
      • Do the same process from your back to the front.
  2. Wall Foam Rollers
      • Position a foam roller on the floor in front of you and place your arms on the roller. I tend to start near my elbows.
      • Keep your arms straight and face your palms up.
      • Roll your body forward, while staying on your knees, to complete a full range of motion out and back.
  3. Barbell Lat Eccentrics
      • Lay flat on a bench and grab a barbell and place your hands about shoulder-width apart.
      • Slowly bring your arms behind you and toward the floor.
      • Go as low as you can comfortably.
      • Return to the starting position.
  4. Prone Lift-Offs
      • Lay flat on the floor with your face down and arms out to the side in a T position.
      • Keep your spine straight and upper body touching the floor
      • Point your thins up and raise your arms toward the ceiling, as high as you can comfortably.
      • Return to the starting position.
  5. Overhead Openers
      • You can either grab a barbell on a rack or place your hands flat on the wall.
      • Bend forward by pushing your butt back and while keeping your arms straight push your chest toward the floor.
      • Go down as far as you can comfortably and hold for a few seconds.
  6. Kettlebell Z Press
      • Sit on the floor holding a set of kettlebells.
      • Perform a Military Press from this position
  7. Banded Pull-Aparts
      • Grab a set of resistance bands and hold one end in each hand.
      • Being your arms up to chest height and pull the band apart as far as you can comfortably.
      • Return to the starting position.
      • You can use an overhand or underhand grip
  8. Lying Dumbbell External Rotation
      • Lay on your side with your free arm on the bench
      • Your working arm should be bent with 90 degree bend in your elbow and your bicep resting on your side
      • The weight should start in front of your torso
      • Maintain a bend in your elbow and your upper arm should remain pressed against your side and lift the weight until it is directly above your torso
      • Control the weight back to the starting position
      • Complete all reps on one side and then switch arms. These can also be performed with a resistance band.
  9. Banded Internal Rotation
      • Wrap a band around a rack or stable object at just above waist height
      • Stand sideways to the band and hold the band with your arm closest to the object
      • Your forearm should be in line with your abdomen and your arm bent 90 degrees and your elbow tight to your side
      • Maintain a bent arm and your elbow at your side and pull the band across your body until your hand reaches the opposite side of your waist
      • Control the weight back to the starting position
      • Complete all reps on one side and then switch arms
Keeping your shoulders flexible and performing their best will help you continue to lift heavy weights. This will also allow us to work out as close to pain-free as possible. Keep the strategies in mind above to help prevent an issue or fix one that continues to reoccur. If you find you have issues with your knees or other joints, you could consider incorporating these into your programming as I do for my shoulders. If your level of discomfort is high, consider seeking medical help from a physical therapist or your doctor.
Want Programs designed for home trainees, that can be completed in 45 minutes or less, are flexible with your schedule, and will help you achieve your fitness goals, then grab one here, including a free option!
Check out exercise video walkthroughs on the YouTube Channel.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign Up

Get Early Access