10 EXERCISES TO IMPROVE YOUR SHOULDER MOBILITY AND STRENGTHEN YOUR BENCH PRESS

10 EXERCISES TO IMPROVE YOUR SHOULDER MOBILITY AND STRENGTHEN YOUR BENCH PRESS

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BY PETE WILLIAMS, CPT

Most runners would never hit the trail or road without first stretching. out their hips.hamstrings., and quads. That’s especially important in our modern sedentary culture where many of us spend our days sitting in meetings and at desks, which locks down our hips and hunches our shoulders..

But many athletes embark on a chest-and-back lifting day, highlighted by time on the bench or incline bench, without warming up or at least preparing adequately. Even if you lift first thing in the morning, you’re still feeling the cumulative effects of long hours hunched over a computer or steering wheel. As a result, your shoulders are rounded and out of alignment. At the very least, that’s compromising your effectiveness lifting. Of greater concern is that such posture. could result in long-term ailments or injury..

By spending just a few minutes in some movement preparation exercises, you can reposition your shoulders to proper alignment and set yourself up for a more productive session. You’re also engaging in “pre-hab,” preventative measures that will reduce the chance of injuriesthat would require rehab.

Here are 10 exercises to help you reap the rewards of stronger, more stable shoulders that are more resistant to injury You can use these as a warm-up or as a standalone circuit. If you do a circuit, do two sets of 10.

1. Back Pockets

Why: This counteracts the impact of sitting all day, and also mimics the proper movement of the shoulders during lifting.

How: Instead of thinking in terms of squeezing your shoulder blades together, think in terms of pulling them back and then down, as if toward your back pockets. This not only resets your posture from sitting hunched over a computer or behind a steering wheel, it also moves the shoulders the way they’re meant to move during pressing lifts. This move can be done throughout the day, not just during this routine.

Prescription: 2 sets of 10 reps with 30 seconds’ rest between sets.

2. Backward Hand Clasp

Why: This is a good barometer of your shoulder mobility..

How: Stand with one hand behind your neck and your elbow pointing up. Use your other hand—or more likely your other hand gently pulling a rope or towel held on both ends—to pull your elbow down. You’ll likely find this easier on one side than the other. Unlike a lot of stretches, you can make relatively quick progress on this one if done daily, to the point where you can forego the towel or rope and gradually grasp hands on both sides.

Prescription: 2 sets of 10-second holds on each side.

3. Eagle Arms

Why: This yoga move stretches out the shoulders, as well as the arms, upper back, and neck.

How: From a standing position, reach both hands out at shoulder-width and -height. Bend the right arm up, and sweep the left under the right. Bend and wrap the left around the right. The goal is to have the hands touch, but like the Backward Hand Clasp this can take some time. If the palms don’t touch, grab the right wrist with your left hand. Lower the shoulders away from your ears, pulling the hands away from your face, and turn slowly to look over the left shoulder.. Hold for 10 seconds—keep breathing—and repeat on the other side.

Prescription: 2 sets of 10-second holds on each side.

4. Cat / Cow

Why: This compound yoga move improves flexibility. to the lumbar and cervical spine, but it also strengthens and stabilizes the shoulders.

How: Start on all fours with hands beneath your shoulders and knees on the ground. Inhale, dropping your chest as you push your hips and shoulder. blades back into cow position. Lift your chin and chest, and gaze forward. For cat, exhale as you draw your belly button to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling like a cat.

Prescription: 2 sets of 10 reps of each with 30 seconds’ rest between sets.

5. 90 / 90 Stretch

Why: This opens up your shoulders while stretching the muscles of your middle and upper back, counteracting the effects of sitting.

How: Lie on the ground on your left side with legs tucked into the torso at a 90° angle. Keep both arms straight, parallel to your knees. Keeping the knees together and on the ground, rotate your chest and right arm to the right, putting your back on the ground. Hold for two seconds and return to starting position.

Prescription: 2 sets of 10 reps to each side with 30 seconds’ rest between sets.

6. Thread the Needle

Why: This simple but effective yoga pose provides a gentle twisting motion that stretches and loosens the muscles in the shoulderand back.

How: Start on hands and knees, wrists directly under shoulders. Slide your right arm underneath your left with palm facing up. Take your right shoulder all the way to the ground. Rest your right ear and cheek on the ground, and look to your left. Keep your left elbow lifted and hips raised so as not to put strain on your neck, shoulder, or head. Hold for 15 seconds, and repeat on other side.

Prescription: 2 sets of two 15-second holds on each side with 15 seconds’ rest between holds.

7. Plank

Why: This promotes overall core , but your shoulders are doing much of the work.

How: Lie in a prone pushup position with forearms resting on the floor, elbows under shoulders and bent 90°. Push up off the elbows, tucking your chin so your head is in line with your body. Keep head inline with spine, and belly button drawn in. Hold for one minute.

Prescription: 2 sets of 60 seconds with 60 seconds’ rest between sets.

8. Suspension Trainer Ys

Why: Why ask Y? This move not only strengthens the back and shoulders, it counteracts the effects of sitting by pulling your shoulders back and down where they belong.

How: Stand facing a suspension trainer, knees slightly bent, holding a handle in each hand. Arms should be overhead to form a Y with the trainer hanging diagonally. Lean backward, initiating the movement with your shoulder blades. Return to starting position.

Prescription: 2 sets of 10 reps of each with 30 seconds’ rest between sets.

9. Suspension Trainer Ws

Why: Like Suspension Trainer. Ys, this move strengthens the back and shoulders by pulling your shoulders back and down where they belong.

How: Stand facing a suspension trainer, knees slightly bent, holding a handle in each hand. Elbows should be bent 90°, forming a W with your torso so the trainer hangs diagonally. Lean backward, initiating the movement with your shoulder blades. Return to starting position.

Prescription: 2 sets of 10 reps of each with 30 seconds’ rest between sets.

10. Child’s Pose

Why: This yoga resting pose also is terrific for stretching out the shoulders.

How: From a kneeling position, touch your big toes together, and sit on your heels. Separate your knees about hip-width apart, and lay your torso down between your thighs. Place your hands on the floor along your torso, palms up, and release the fronts of your shoulders toward the floor. You should feel the weight of the front of the shoulders pulling the shoulder blades wide across your back.

Prescription: Hold pose for 30 seconds.

Pete Williams is a N.A.S.M.-certified personal trainer and the author or co-author of a number of books on performance and training.