Your shoulders take on huge loads in the weight room if you’re taking on heavy pressing or raising exercises, but the joints can be extremely delicate. To keep yourself in good condition during those upper body days, you’re going to need to get warmed and primed before you even think about touching a weight. All told, the warmup takes just five minutes, so you have no excuse to skip it.
This bulletproof shoulder series from Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. will help you to get ready to take on just about any shoulder move. The warmup is especially important if you clock in at an office, then take a seat for a 9 to 5 every day. “Especially if you have a desk job, that means spending extra time getting your shoulders and shoulder blades prepped,” Samuel says. “That’s where these drills come in: We’re reinforcing the motions and muscles that standard life (from driving to sitting at a desk to typing to staring at your cellphones) tends to deactivate and ignore.”
The biggest goal of the series to to get the joints activated the right way. “We want to flush our rotator cuff muscles with blood, and we also really want to emphasize scapular retraction and depression,” Samuel says. “You need these muscles and motions active and ready for every motion, upper- or lower-body in the gym.”
You’ll need a resistance band and a solid anchor point to take on the bulletproof shoulder series. In order to hone these motions and activate the right muscles, however, Samuel warns that you can’t load these drills too much. “Use the lightest band available in your gym,” he says. “Trying to go heavy on these will lead your major deltoid muscles to become the prime movers in the motion; we’re aiming to let the much smaller rotator cuff muscles drive the drive here.”
- Get in a tall kneeling position, holding the end of the band in your outside hand, with your arm bent and perpendicular to the ground. Squeeze your glutes and brace your core to stay in place.
- Perform 30 reps of external rotations by squeezing the shoulder blade to pull the band outward.
- Flip around to the other side and perform 30 reps of internal rotations by squeezing the shoulder blade to pull the band in toward your chest.
- Repeat both steps with the opposite arm.
- Face the anchor head-on and hold both ends of the band in each hand. Perform 30 reps of straight arm pulls, locking out your elbows and squeezing your scaps to pull the band back.
Keep form paramount throughout the series. “Work within your range of motion on these drills, and force the action to come from your shoulder,” advises Samuel. “It’s easy and convenient to let torso twist, or even some twisting up higher, in the chest area, drive these motions. That’s partly why we’re working from tall kneeling, so that you’ll have a harder time twisting.”
While it pays to have keep joints warm when you challenge them the most, the bulletproof shoulder series shouldn’t just be reserved for heavy upper body days. You can do this series daily, even on days that you don’t train. Samuel saws that the practice will reinforcing good body positioning and posture all-around.
By Brett Williams And Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S.