3 Exercises To Bulletproof The Shoulders
Updated: Jul 20
Imagine this scene: you're winding up a throw, playing catch with your friend/kid/random passerby, or maybe you're a mean person and are getting ready to knock someone out unbeknownst to them (I don't recommend doing that). As you release your throw with all the fury of the Four Horsemen charging full speed towards your intended target, you feel a sharp 'clunk' in your shoulder. Oops, your shoulder is not supposed to do that, right?
Of course, this isn't the only way it can happen; maybe you slip on ice and fall on your shoulder, or you do repetitive movement at work and now it's killing you, or maybe you just slept on it funny. Either way, I think many of us can say that we've dealt with some type of minor (or major) shoulder pain at some point in our lives.
Well good thing you're here, because I made this quick list of some exercises that can help with weak shoulder joints. First things first, though: if you're dealing with great pain, go see a doctor. These exercises won't fix tears or breaks, they will just help to strengthen the shoulder giirdle.
With that said, below are three awesome exercises that can help bulletproof them from injury.
1. Face Pulls
The face pull is probably the most well known rear shoulder exercise for creating healthy shoulders, and for good reason: not only are you working the upper back, but you are getting some much needed external rotation. Too many of us are always in a kyphotic posture, and while doing only face pulls won't fix it completely it can help work the rotator cuff in external rotation and strengthen them. Strengthening the rotator cuff will also help with the stability of the joint, which the shoulder often has trouble with.
Video is shown with a band, but it can also be done with a cables.
2. Rear Delt Fly & Scap Raise Combo
The rear delt fly and y-raise are both two exercises that are excellent in their own right, but why not combine the two to get the benefit and save time? In comes the rear delt & y-raise combo. The rear delt fly works, well, the rear delt as the name implies. The y-raise works the lower traps. both of these areas are super important for shoulder health and makes the shoulder girdle stronger and more resistant to injury. I like doing them as a combo, mainly to save time and get the benefit of both.
Just like the last one, the equipment can be subbed with a band.
3. Self-Assisted External Rotation
Last but not least, we have the good ol' external rotation. This exercise is probably the most common you'll see people do when they are rehabbing their shoulder, and I understand why: it works the external rotator muscles, which are often weak. There are better exercises, for the main reason that the shoulder does more than external rotation; the shoulder joint is a mobile and complex joint, so external rotation is not it's main job. The scapula is involved in a lot of different movements: there's upward rotation, retraction, protraction, elevation, and depression. The shoulder is connected to this area, therefore needs to be worked in these different planes of movement. External rotation exercises are great, but it is an isolation movement, therefore only works that little area of the rotator cuff. The above exercises works retraction, depression, upward rotation, and external rotation, so you get more of that oh-so-good movement that your body craves. Basic external rotation exercises are not bad though, as its still good to add this one in - I would just make the above exercises more of a priority first. Also, if someone is just coming off of a shoulder injury, this might be the only movement that is pain free, as it doesn't involve a huge rang of motion.
This is my favorite variation:
There you have it, three exercises that can help bulletproof your shoulders. If you're rehabbing the shoulder from an injury, these can help; likewise, even if you're shoulders are fine, it would be wise the add these in to keep them healthy. All of these are meant to be done with control, so lighter weight and higher repetitions (think 10-15) are key. Get em' done and reap the benefits of bulletproof shoulders!