The shoulders are joints that do a lot of work for us when we choose to be active with lifting weights or playing a sport like pickleball. We all want to stay away from those dreaded shoulder injuries that come with the territory being active. While there are tons of options out there, here are the four exercises we recommend to keep you swinging, pushing, and pulling in the gym, court, or course. Keeping your shoulder muscles balanced is also important when working on shoulder health. We want to avoid rotator cuff injuries, labral tears, and impingement as much as possible, so focusing on shoulder exercises that target the rhomboids, serratus anterior, mid- and low- trap fibers are good places to start.
Beginner Shoulder Exercises
Serratus Wall Slides
Let’s start with the serratus wall slide. Which, you guessed it, targets serratus anterior. This muscle is important for sliding your shoulder blade on your trunk while moving your arm overhead. Facing a wall, press a foam roller into it starting with the sides of your wrists- starting at about eye level. The key here is you are trying to keep pressure into the foam roller even though your arms will not move forward. Keeping that pressure you will slide your forearms upwards until you feel a cramp in or around your armpit area. Shoot for about three rounds of 10-15 reps. This one takes some practice, but it is totally worth it for strong and balanced shoulders.
Scap Pull Ups
Next up, is the scap pull up! Starting in the dead hang position on a bar and remembering to keep your elbows relaxed are keys to this exercise. While holding onto the bar, you will try to “pull” your shoulder blades down and into your back pockets. Most of the time this is used as a preparatory exercise for the pull up, so you may have already been doing these. This exercise works your lats and low trap, anchoring your scapulas during a pulling movement. We will target this movement with more of an endurance effort, so about 3 rounds of fifteen to twenty repetitions should do the trick to keep your shoulders strong.
Intermediate Shoulder Exercises
We all love a chest fly, but we sometimes forget its cousin – the reverse fly. Targeting your posterior deltoid, along with some rotator cuff muscles and mid trap. You want to start with your chest as close to parallel to the ground as possible, either sitting or standing. Raising your arms out to your side with your thumbs towards the ceiling, followed with a squeeze of your shoulder blades; you should feel your mid back and posterior shoulders light up. Starting with a five or ten pound dumbbell in each hand should be plenty of weight and the target again is three sets of twelve to fifteen. Those muscles are important to keep shoulder pain away, so we want to make sure their endurance holds up in the future!
Finally, the overhead carry or the overhead farmer’s carry. This exercise targets all of the stabilizers of the shoulder, so start a little lighter than normal. Starting with the kettlebell bottoms up will add another layer of difficulty to this exercise. Pressing it overhead and walking are the next steps. Keeping an active shoulder is super important and not letting you shoulder sag. Starting with a distance of about fifteen to twenty feet should be enough to feel the burn for two or three down and backs.
Looking for Shoulder Exercises to Improve Strength or Treat an Injury?
Keeping the serratus anterior, rhomboids, mid- and low- traps strong are super important for the active individual that uses their arms. Adding these 4 shoulder exercises to your routine two to three times per week will help bulletproof your shoulder and keep those shoulders strong and balanced. No one wants shoulder pain, so if you are having issues feel free to download a copy of our free Neck and Shoulder Pain Ebook or if you have questions fill out a form to contact us through our website.