Stronger and More Flexible Shoulders Now!

For many athletes the shoulders can be a constant problem, in contact/combat sports such as rugby or MMA the shoulders are often involved in big impacts or stresses from extreme angles. But these guys still need to spend most of their time on specific skills training and conditioning and power exercises, so here's how to get the most efficient use of your time in the gym whilst building strong shoulders and preventing injury...just do a few of the following exercises as a warm-up or use a few of the movements as filler exercises (perform a few light reps in-between sets of another main exercise).

Shoulder Dislocates

Grab a band, a broomstick, a towel, a piece of rope, anything that maintains tension between your hands. Put your arms overhead, keep them straight throughout the movement and move your arms backwards and down, you should feel an intense stretch in the front of your shoulders.

A great mobility exercise, stick with it. More flexible shoulders allows you to get tighter on the lifts that matter like the squat! With your hands closer together on the squat you can tighten the upper back to a greater degree, a tighter set-up will improve your max.

Truck Drivers

Real simple one, grab a plate with your hands opposite each other halfway down the outside, hold your arms out straight and turn it like a steering wheel! Make sure your hands go from the 3 and 9 o'clock positions to 12 and 6 o'clock.

This builds up strength in the muscles that lift the shoulder up and forward and the muscles which rotate the shoulder towards the midline of the body. Great for correcting muscular imbalances and injury prevention.

Dumbbell Clean/External Rotations

Get some dumbbells, shrug up and start the movement like a dumbbell power clean and after the weights reach your chest keep them moving upwards by rotating your arms out, keep the upper arm parallel to the floor in the end position.

This exercise works the external rotators and allows a relatively large weight to be used compared to typical external rotator exercises, as the weight can be powered up and lowered under control, giving a high eccentric load to this muscle group. Weak external rotators can limit the amount of weight used in other upper body exercises as the body prevents other muscle groups from contracting maximally in this scenario as the rotators may get injured. So sort yours out!

Sleeper Stretch

Ensure that your shoulder blades are pulled together, your elbow is bent 90 degrees and pointing straight forwards away from your body. Tense your armpit so the elbow stays low near your ribs, this will help you get a greater stretch.

There is a very limited range of motion in this exercise so be careful!

Another great exercise to loosen up tight muscles around the shoulder joint.

So there you go, mix and match these exercises as a warm-up, a cool-down, inbetween other exercises, on off days, before games or sports training. No excuses! Stronger and more flexible shoulders will benefit nearly every upper body exercise you train and will help to prevent injury.

Train Hard

Ant Shaw

Flexibility in the shoulders is extremely important to prevent injury, the sleeper stretch