27 Tips for Healthier Shoulders- Part 1

Posted by Jason Ferruggia

I’ve spent the last two and a half decades pounding the shit out of my shoulders. While that sucks for me it’s actually good news for you. Why, you ask? Because when you’ve torn traps, rotator cuffs and labrums you develop a pretty keen interest in avoiding shoulder injuries.

You also develop a pretty good MacGyver instinct about how to work around them. And today I’m going to share some of that information with the Renegade Army.

Here is a list of 27 tips that will help you keep your shoulders strong and healthy.

1) Do YTWL’s as a Warm Up Before Every Workout- This is an awesome way to fire up all the muscles you need to protect your shoulders against injury.

2) Do 30-50 Reps Per Day of Shoulder Dislocations With a Broomstick- This increases mobility and pumps healing nutrients into your shoulders. Do this every day of the week for a month and I can almost guarantee you that your shoulders will feel better.

3) Do Vertical Pressing Before Horizontal Pressing- If you are going to do some form of military press and some form of bench press in the same workout try doing the overhead work first. I have found this to be a great way to avoid pain and strengthen your shoulders. I can’t explain exactly why but the overhead work just seems to prepare you better for the bench pressing variations. I have had numerous people try this (many of whom had pain with any form of benching with a bar or dumbbells) and they all reported feeling significantly better.

4) Begin the First Rep of Any Set of Military Presses with a Slight Leg Drive- You don’t have to turn the whole set into push presses but you do want to use a slight leg drive to at least get the very first rep moving. The reason for that is because pressing the bar off your front delts from a dead stop with no momentum can be very stressful. It’s the most stressful part of the entire rep. Unless you are competing in some kind of strict pressing contest I’d recommend using the leg drive. If you have preexisting shoulder injuries you may want to do a slight push press on every rep.

5) At the End of Each Set of Military Presses You Do Hold the Bar in the Top Position- This is sometimes referred to as structural integrity work and can help strengthen, stabilize and bulletproof the shoulders. I recommend holding the bar up there at lockout (the joints are meant to lock and support load so forget about that myth that you should never lock out) for three to five seconds. On the last set of the day you could hold it up there for ten seconds or longer.

6) Use a Swiss Bar Instead of Straight Bar for Horizontal Pressing- The Swiss bar allows you to press with your palms facing in towards each other which is far more natural and a lot safer. If you train at home or some type of small warehouse gym I highly recommend ordering. I would ALWAYS make that my bar of choice if I were ever to bench press again.

7) Swap Out Bench Presses For Low Incline Presses- Most regular readers know by now that I’m not a huge fan of the flat bench press. But I do like having big barbell movements in the program as indicator lifts. The low inline press, with the bench set to somewhere between fifteen and thirty degrees was a favorite chest exercise of six time Mr. Olympia, Dorian Yates. This variation hits the pecs more effectively and is less stressful on the shoulder. Even better is the low incline press with the Swiss Bar.

8] Never Bench Press With a Wide Grip- In powerlifting it’s known that using a wider grip reduces the range of motion and thus, theoretically you should be able to press more weight. The downside is that the wide grip puts your shoulders through hell so you should really consider avoiding it and only benching with a close to medium grip width. The widest I would ever recommend is pinkies in the rings and even closer than that for most people. You have to think long term and remember that if you shoulders are destroyed you won’t even be able to bench the bar eventually.

The great Konstantinovs knows the importance of this and has discussed it in the past. Here he is in the video below benching 507 for 3 with what many might consider a close grip.

9)  If You Do Flat or Incline Presses With Dumbbells Always Use a Neutral Grip- As mentioned above, the neutral grip is a lot more natural and allows you to keep your elbows in tighter while sparing your shoulders.

10) Always Keep Your Shoulder Blades Fully Squeezed Together During Horizontal Pressing Movements- Whenever you are lying on your back and pressing a bar or dumbbells you want to maintain a very tight, bunched up feeling in your upper back and never allow your shoulder blades to come apart. This keeps the shoulders in a much stronger and safer position.

Please leave your questions and comments below.