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3 Keys For Strong & Healthy Shoulders

If there is one thing that can be a road block for anyone trying to achieve any fitness goal, it is injury! Once an injury hits, it changes what we can do, how much we can do, and often leads to people becoming unmotivated and frustrated. Obviously we can’t completely avoid injury, there are A LOT of factors that can contribute (lack of sleep, poor nutrition, stress, etc.). However, there are some foundational things that we can do that I think many people aren’t aware of when they perform different drills. In order to help demonstrate these ideas I thought we would look at 3 keys for strong and healthy shoulders.

mobility training

What we were able to accomplish with my mother-in law in 5 minutes of training on the right versus 2 years of physical therapy on her complete shoulder joint replacement.

Step 1: Develop Proper Mobility

Mobility is a HOT topic for many because we have a society that does struggle to move well. That means it is hard to employ the type of training we want without putting they health at risk. This causes people to try all sorts of ways to improve the way people move, but many times it isn’t as overwhelming as you may think.

First off, how do we know the key to strong and healthy shoulders is mobility? An easy strategy is something I learned from performance expert, Dr. Brandon Marcello. Try this, have yourself or someone stand with their feet together. Ask them to lift their arm over their head, see how far they can go until they start to compromise the movement (either bending their elbow or learning through their low back most times). Have them repeat this 2-3 times and see how much range they can control. Then do the same thing, but have them relax as YOU move their arm through the range of motion. Are you able to move their arm further than they were on their own?

mobility training

If the answer is yes, we can feel confident that this is a mobility issue because our body is putting on the brakes. If there is no difference, it can be more difficult to tell (although we will give you some strategies) that structural issues aren’t impacting their movement. Physical therapist, Jessica Bento, uses me to try to demonstrate this idea. My shoulder issues aren’t due to my shoulders, but something else (not, it isn’t Dwight, but he doesn’t make this easier!).

For the great majority of people, focusing on controlling their core and connecting the chains of the body have a very positive impact upon their upper body mobility and the state of creating strong and healthy shoulders. Strength coaches Joel Gunterman and Martin Adame, show one of our key core stability exercises to help reinforce these movement concepts.

How fast does this work? Martin shows you instantly!

Step 2: Make Those Connections!

People sometimes think we create magic because they would have had issues with their shoulders, especially in particular exercises. When we cue them to do them by focusing on connecting the whole body, all of sudden their shoulders are more mobile and stronger, we truly just taught them how to develop healthy shoulders through doing exercises they would maybe originally think as making themselves worse!

As Megan discusses, our grip is correlated to integrating our whole upper body smarter, including our core! It isn’t just creating tension as she describes, but being mindful of the positions we put the body in to create proper integration. THAT is how we create healthy shoulders!

Just as our grip is important, the other side to healthy shoulders is actually the feet. Wait WHAT? Yes, as Cory describes so well, our feet are important to getting our core to work properly. Y0u can see how though things like the Spiral Line of the body, that shows our feet impacting our hips, core, and guess what? Opposing shoulders!

When you realize these keys, then drills like Joel shows makes WAY more sense. That this type of kettlebell press we have in our Progressive Kettlebell Movement Program (PKM) is about people properly using the hands and feet to develop proper stability and healthy shoulders!

Step 3: Use The Right Starting Point!

While the first two steps go a REALLY long ways in helping people develop those healthy shoulders, the reality is when people have had pain or have found they have had consistent issues with their shoulders they are scared. I always remind coaches that we have to be WAY more mindful of the fear that people that have had pain in the past have with exercise and that is being placed back in pain.

Whether or not we agree, they could have been told certain things like going overhead is bad for them, or they really could have a lot more issues in going overhead than we can address in one exercise. Starting people in an environment where they can learn these concepts, not feel their body is at risk, and can comfortably integrate these ideas are HUGE!

healthy shoulders

The bird dog can be a great drill to help develop those strong and healthy shoulders, but as Jessica shows, there are specifics to accomplish the goal of the movement.

Lift/chop patterns work with the diagonal patterning of our body to enhance spinal stability so we get more mobile and stronger hips and shoulders. DVRT UK master, Greg Perlaki shows how we can use these concepts of lifts/chops that derive from the physical therapy system of PNF to develop better strength and health of the two most problematic areas, hips and shoulders.

Instead of thinking about isolating the shoulder that almost NEVER works (because the body is not a collection of parts) but understanding how our body is integrated makes all the difference! When we want to develop strong and healthy shoulders, we have to think about how they work with the entire body and what has caused them to become problematic. As simple as it sounds, these 3 strategies go a long way in building success. Don’t confuse simple for easy. However, with proper cuing and progression you can’t believe the results we can achieve!

This week ONLY we are opening our DVRT online coaching for new trainees. Get the opportunity to work with us one on one and see how we can help you achieve your goals and learn how to put together smarter workouts that will forever impact how you train! Go HERE now, limited spots available.


sandbag training