NOTHING is more disheartening than when I hear people say, “that’s cool, but I can’t do that!” I believe the job of a coach is to help people discover HOW they can do the things they didn’t think were possible. Now, before I go too far down the rabbit hole, there are of course exceptions to what I am going to say. If you have had a massive surgery of any sort, please talk to your doctors first! However, if you are interested in developing strength and freedom of movement in your upper body, you will want to learn how we teach shoulder exercises much different!
When people see our DVRT Clean and Press test, I’ll be honest, it scares the heck out of many! That is because problematic shoulders plague people. Not just those that sit at a desk all day or did something in their old high school days. I’m talking about even fitness professionals that SHOULD know how to train smart and make their bodies not only look better, but work better!
The biggest difference in what we do in DVRT and how most people approach shoulder exercises is that we NEVER really seem them as “shoulder exercises”. MAN, that is confusing right?!
Let me explain, what I mean is that most people when they discuss shoulder exercises whether mobility, strength, or whatever, ONLY focus on what is happening in the shoulder complex. That is a narrow view of what is happening and how the body ACTUALLY works. The BIGGEST reason people hurt their shoulders is because they do think of them only working in isolation. The truth is that NEVER happens and we almost need to completely get rid of the idea of shoulder exercises.
I’ve shared this before but it is worth giving this statement by Dr. Stuart McGill again….
“Consider the pectoralis major muscle – it attaches the rib cage at its proximal end, crosses the shoulder joint, and attaches to the humerus of the upper arm at its distal end. When muscles contract they try to shorten. Consider the specific action here – the arm flexes around the shoulder joint moving the arm from muscle shortening at the distal end. But the same shortening also bends the rib cage towards the arm at the proximal end of the muscle. Thus simply using the pec muscle would not result in a fast nor forceful punch. Now stiffen the proximal end of pec muscle attachment – meaning stiffen the core and ribcage so it can’t move. Now, 100% of pec muscle shortening is directed to action at its distal end producing fast and forceful motion in the arm.”
If you are left scratching your head let me break it down. The core is REALLY important to your shoulder exercises! You are welcome. In all seriousness, it is true! From increasing the mobility of your shoulders, to keep your ribs in their proper place, to improving your pressing strength…the core is really important.
That is part of the story, but equally important is HOW we teach the body to use the core correctly. You will see at first glance that the Ultimate Sandbag exercise DVRT Master, Cory Cripe, demonstrates looks like they have NOTHING in common but the kneeling Around the World is essential for a great overhead press.
How in the world? For one, being tall kneeling is a great way to teach how to use the core if we do some specific things. The first is that we HAVE to press the balls of our feet into the ground. Without doing anything else you feel your hamstrings, glutes, and yes, core become very active. Pressing through the balls of the feet keeps the hips fully extended which creates a strong platform for your body to press. If you did NOTHING else but this you will be stronger and have better mobility!
The other part is that by moving the Ultimate Sandbag in this pattern we “turn on” many of the deep intrinsic core stabilizers that when our body feels more stability will “release” our shoulders. This is the concept we have talked about a million times in that “proximal stability creates distal mobility.” In other words, your spine feels more stable, the better your hips and shoulders move!
Once we establish good ground contact and an active core, it comes to understanding the press itself. Check out why we call this an overhead press and hope to put the idea of this being part of any sort of shoulder exercise can be put to rest!
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