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27 Tips For Healthier Shoulders- Part 2

Written by Jason Ferruggia Topics: Muscle

I hope you guys enjoyed the first installment of this article. Today I’m serving up Part 2…

11) Do More Pushups- Pushups are still one of my top ten favorite exercises and always will be. They are also significantly better for your shoulders than any other form of horizontal pressing with a bar or dumbbells. Pushups are highly underrated because people don’t know how to load them properly or do advanced variations.

For loading you can get a weighted vest, chains, a Power Pushup (which is awesome) or even have a partner hold weight plates on your back. A great loading variation, and one that is very comfortable is to place a sandbag on your back with or without additional weight vests.

12)  Do Suspended Pushups- Suspended pushups with rings or the Jungle Gym XT call even more muscles into play and force your stabilizer muscles to fire even harder. This is great for building up injury proof shoulders.

13) Do Kettlebell Turkish Get Ups- If you could only do one rehab/prehab/shoulder stabilization exercise this would probably have to be it, in my opinion. Make them a regular part of your routine and your shoulders will feel better.

14) Practice Handstand Holds- This is very similar to the concept of holding the barbell overhead only in this case you are holding your own bodyweight which increases neuromuscular activation and makes it significantly more effective. I recommend kicking up into a handstand against the wall at the end of each upper body workout and holding it for as long as possible.

When you get good at that try removing the wall. This is great for shoulder stabilization.

15) Walk on Your Hands- Once you get comfortable with handstands start walking laterally along the wall with your feet still in contact with it. Eventually, once you master your handstands you can start walking without the wall. In the meantime, slap a Power Wheel on your feet and walk up and down the gym floor or across a field. A great goal to shoot for is being able to walk 100 yards on your hands.

You can make hand walking even more challenging by doing Alligator pushups with the Power Wheel . Any type of dynamic range of motion exercise like this that has you moving positions on each rep is great for strengthening the shoulders.

16) Don’t go Excessively Heavy On Curls- Heavy barbell or dumbbell curls can place a lot of stress on the biceps tendon and lead to shoulder issues. For this reason I rarely recommend curls below six reps. With more advanced trainees I always keep curls in the 10-15 rep range.

Heavy curls can beat your shoulders up a lot worse than you might think. I recommend avoiding them.

17) Initiate Each Rep on Curls With a Slight Cheat- Just like the bottom position of the military press, the bottom position of a curl is very stressful to the shoulder. I recommend hitching at the waist and leaning slightly forward then extending your hips and cheating the weight the first couple inches out of the bottom.

This doesn’t mean you heave the weight up and get sloppy. Quite the contrary. Just use the momentum to initiate the movement and then keep maximal tension on the biceps throughout by squeezing and contracting them as hard as you can. On the eccentric actively contract your triceps by imagining doing a pushdown.

Using  this cheat technique can extend the life of your shoulders and elbows greatly.

18)  Don’t do Curls on the Same Day You Do Heavy Pressing- After a heavy pressing workout the shoulders may be pretty trashed. If you stress them even more with heavy curls the biceps tendon may start acting up and giving you problems. I have found in a large majority of cases where guys where getting shoulder pain from doing curls, that if we moved it to another day or didn’t do the curls after heavy pressing the problem started to dissipate. If you have no shoulder issues this probably won’t be a problem.

Now, if you don’t have any shoulder issues, this recommendation isn’t for you and I wouldn’t really worry about it. But if you are having shoulder problems you might want to give this one a try.

19) Don’t do Incline Curls at an Angle Any Lower Than 60 Degrees- Incline curls are great for training the biceps from a stretched position, but they also stretch the ligaments as well as the muscles. If you have shoulder issues make sure to keep the bench set no lower than 60 degrees.

Stay tuned for part 3. In the meantime do me a favor and hit the Like button below if you enjoyed this post and please leave me any comments or questions you may have.


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14 Responses to 27 Tips For Healthier Shoulders- Part 2

  1. Britt March 25, 2011 at 9:55 am #


    Is all this incorporated into your Minimalist Training program?

  2. Rhett March 25, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    I have been enjoying these shoulder strength and stabilization posts. Im still rehabilitating from getting labrum repair surgery. As I gain more strength and get my range of motion back I will definitely be using these tips to get my shoulder stronger. Have a ways to go still…at 3×10 of knee pushups.

  3. Lucky March 25, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    This is awesome. Tnx so much for the tips, it all makes logical sense too. This neds to be boomarked ;)

  4. Julio G. March 25, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    Doing horizontal push and vertical pull on the same workout and horizontal pulls with vertical pushes on the same workout can also lead to any type of shouder problem?
    example 1: alternated sets of incline press and parallel grip chin ups
    example 2: cable facepulls (or 1 arm row with elbows out) alternated with military press
    Can any of these cause me any problem or should I go for horizontal pusshing alternated with horizontal pulling and viceversa?

  5. Tony March 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

    I gotta tell you hands down you’ve got the best site going. Nobody offers so much of the I’m going to save you from finding out the hard way kind of articles that you do. I’ve been lifting for over 40 years and some of your suggestions I’ve kind of intuitively adopted over the years, but many I haven’t tried or have stubbornly refused to change to. As you well know an injury happens so damn quick and you then wished to hell you would have paid attention to advice such as what you have so kindly shared. About a month ago while doing–you guessed it–heavy curls I screwed up my biceps tendon, then tried to work around it by doing incline curls. Well needless to say, it’s really pissed now! Too bad you didn’t write this a couple months ago! Again,thanks so much for what you do.

  6. Tracy Langford March 25, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    Heavy curls can definitely irritate the biceps tendon. As unusual as it sounds, weighted chins has the opposite effect. So I’ve been doing those in place of curling until my biceps tendon chills out.

  7. Chris March 25, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

    I never thought of handstand holds for strengthening shoulders. Great advice as always.

  8. Will March 26, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    Thanks Jason, both posts (and the website consistently so) are very helpful. You got taken to task a few posts ago for moving some material to your premium pay-site. After reading this post, I thought of those criticisms because I’ve always been amazed at just how much truly helpful information you put out there completely free of charge. Once my financial situation improves, I’ll become a member of your pay-site. Until then, I greatly appreciate this information. Will

  9. I do lots more pushups now, in part thanks to you. I have found using bands a great way to progress with push ups. Vests are too light and chains are not easy to work with, but the bands work well for me.

    Looks as though I will have to start adding handstands to my workout too.

  10. Ben coomber March 27, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

    Currently got shoulder pain after injury and re-introducing weights more, definitely notice pain after training arms and think leaving biceps out of the equation would be a wise move! Plus love the sound of doing more handstands, cheeers!

  11. Brandon Cook March 28, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    Awesome post Jason! Great advice and I have put a lot of these into use already after having some shoulder issues and biceps tendonitis (plus learned some more tips with your article!)

    Staying in the scapular plane has helped a lot and focusing on bodyweight/ring exercises versus barbell for upper body has helped as well. I started doing handstand holds a while back and think those will also help strengthen the tendons and ligaments as well. I recently purchased a power wheel and love that thing! Doing all the basic exercises with it and the hand-walking to build shoulder stability.

    My goal is to totally strengthen my core and shoulder/scapular stability to keep myself injury free in the future. Turn the weak links into strengths! Looking forward to part III!

    • Ann March 28, 2011 at 11:52 am #

      @Brandon Cook:

      Brandon, what does “staying in the scapular plane” mean? I’m just getting over shoulder bursitis and I’d read somewhere that overhead lifts in the scapular plane were better than straight overhead lifts. I have no idea what that means though.

  12. Vaclav Gregor March 28, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    Great post, thanks for the info. I will definitely incorporate few of those advice. Especially the handwalking exercise.

  13. Joe Meglio April 3, 2011 at 7:58 pm #

    Hey Jay,

    What is your opinion on doing bicep curls after heavy pulling- say a 6 RM on bent over rows or weighted chins?