Guest Post by Eric Cressey
Zach Even-Esh isn’t just a friend of mine; he’s also a pseudo-client.
You see, roughly once a year, Zach does something he’d never let one of his athletes do – and winds up with a cranky shoulder.
He’s like a bull in a china closet, but that’s one of many reasons we love him.
With that in mind, with the launch of my new resource, The High Performance Handbook, it seemed only fitting that my guest post for Zach would be all about how to take care of your shoulder.
With that in mind, here are five of my favorite shoulder health lessons and exercises.
1. Do pressing movements where the scapula isn’t fixed.
We all love the bench press – and that’s perfectly okay; it’s an insanely effective exercise that has been around for almost a hundred years.
Unfortunately, when benching, your upper back is always pinned to a bench, meaning the shoulder blades can’t move freely. Over time, this may lead to them losing the ability to rotate up to positions you need to do overhead work safely. As such, it’s important to also do other pressing movements where the shoulder blade can move freely.
All push-up variations are great choices, but I think I like landmine presses even more.
You can do these standing or kneeling:
[youtube width="640" height="360"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ArzG9qz-yM[/youtube]
2. Show the rotator cuff some love.
Doing rotator cuff exercises is like cleaning your gutters; it’s not sexy or fun, but you need to do it or else bad things will happen. Many lifters are just waiting to hit the point where the shoulder gets cranky, as they likely have something “out of whack” on a MRI even if they don’t have pain. So, we need to be proactive!
Train the rotator cuff with some external rotations, even if it’s just once a week for three sets. Here’s one of my favorites (you can also use a band instead of a cable):
[youtube width="640" height="360"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOwn6M-d4KA[/youtube]
3. Dominate the back-to-wall shoulder flexion.
I teach this exercise to EVERY new client at Cressey Performance because it’s not just a training exercise, but also an assessment. If you can’t get your arms overhead without lower back compensation or pain, it’s your body telling you that you’ve lost an important movement pattern. Check out the video, and see how you do!
[youtube width="640" height="360"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbyhKCjrPSQ [/youtube]
4. Do rows – and don’t slack on your technique.
Everyone knows it’s important to do more pulling than pushing in your strength training program. However, many people don’t realize that you only get the benefits of all these rowing exercises if you actually perform them with correct technique!
Check out this detailed video on all the common mistakes we see with my favorite variation, the standing 1-arm cable row:
[youtube width="640" height="360"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4ooY1N05Ig[/youtube]
5. Mobilize the thoracic spine (upper back).
You’re probably hunched over at your computer as you read this.
That’s okay – but only if you’re making an effort in your training program to overcome this habitual posture!
The good news is that I have two exercises for you to help address the rounded-over upper back posture.
Check these out:
[youtube width="640" height="360"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71qEKutWw18[/youtube]
[youtube width="640" height="360"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RX21NOL61OE[/youtube]
A lot of painful shoulders walk through my door looking for help on a weekly basis, and I can guarantee you that my life would be a lot easier if more people took these recommendations to heart!
Put these suggestions into practice sooner than later and your shoulders will feel like a million bucks.
Looking to take the guesswork out of programming?
Check out my new resource, The High Performance Handbook. It’s on sale at a great introductory price this week only.
Sibghatallah Imdad says
Thank you SOOO much for this Zach, and Eric too. I really needed this stuff. Gonna start implementing everything right away!
Sib – awesome, brotha, get after it! Healthy shoulders are worth their weight in gold!
this is really good info i need for my shoulders thanks Zach u always put up good info.
It just keeps getting better and better !
Great blog post !
Adrian "Daisy" Day says
ZEE and EC, what a dynamic duo!!! Locked in the purchase of the Handbook and can’t wait to do some reading tonight!!!