WHY YOUR SHOULDER MOBILITY STILL SUCKS:

Are you prioritizing shoulder extension?

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What is Shoulder Extension?

Shoulder extension is one of the possible ways our glenohumeral joint is able to move. It’s  essentially the ability to bring our arms behind our body. But more importantly, your lack of it is the reason why your shoulder flexion (overhead position) isn’t improving!

Shoulder extension is important for your shoulders to feel as well as they perform. 

Shoulder extension plays a role in exercises such as:

  • Push-ups 

  • Pull-ups 

  • Dips 

  • Muscle-ups 

  • Bench Press 

  • Burpees 

  • Olympic Lifting 

Athletes should have around 40-60 degrees of ACTIVE shoulder extension to be considered normal. If you don’t have proper shoulder extension and you are regularly performing the above listed exercises, you can potentially end up with a variety of conditions possibly causing pain in the front of the shoulder down to the bicep.  

Shoulder extension, specifically, is performed by a handful of major muscle groups.

  • Pec’s 

  • Anterior aspect of the deltoids

  • Coracobrachialis

  • Long head of the Bicep Brachii 

If you are already experiencing pain somewhere from the front of your shoulder down to your bicep, be sure to speak to your doctor. 

Even if you aren’t performing any of the above listed exercises, it’s still wise to make one of your top mobility goals to improve your shoulder extension.

 

Start at the end and work backwards?

We consider the ultimate display of shoulder extension, a full range of motion skin the cat. We then reverse engineered that movement back to the most basic form in order for athletes to start working on whatever their shoulder extension  goals are safely. 



How to get started

Below we cover beginner, intermediate and advanced exercises we progress athletes through prior to even putting them on the rings.

Even if you think you have good shoulder extension (YOU DON’T), start with the beginner variation 2-3x a week for a minimum of 6 weeks, before moving onto our intermediate and then advanced variation. 

There is also nothing saying you can’t stay at one of the variations for even longer. 

Start incorporating these into your training to start addressing your weakest and most neglected range of motion to have shoulders that FEEL AS GOOD as they look!  




Beginner: German Squats 

 The German Squat is often used as a warm up/primer movement before doing any sort of vertical or horizontal pressing exercise.

Here are the basics of how to do/coach this:

  • Set a barbell in a squat rack at roughly collar bone height 

  • Place both hands, palms down, on the barbell, wrapping all five fingers around the bar. 

  • A great place to start is with pinkies wrapped around the furthest knurl mark. As you become more comfortable, you can work your hands closer together. 

  • From here, make sure your elbows are completely locked out, with shoulder blades pulled back and down 

  • SLOWLY squat down as far as you can, pause for a moment in the bottom position before returning back up 

  • Go as far as you can, without letting your shoulders round forward 

  • Repeat

Typically we do this in 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps. 

It is common to feel an intense stretch in the front of the shoulder, biceps and elbows. Aim to strain but do not cause any pain. 




Intermediate: Table tops + Crab Walks 

The Tabletop + Crab Walk is a progression from the German Squat. 

It's typically more shoulder load when compared to the german squat since it'll be heavier due to the change in angle, altering the resistance.

Here is how to perform/coach this drill:

  • Start sitting on the floor with your hands at your side 

  • If your fingers are pointing to the sides (3 and 9 on a clock) this will be less of a stretch at first when compared to fingers pointing directly behind you (6 on a clock)

  • From here, pull your shoulder blades down and back, with locked out elbows 

  • Push through your heels lifting your chest and hips towards the ceiling

  • Go as far as you comfortably can, pausing at the top 

  • The end goal is to have a straight line from your shoulders too hip. Slowly return to the starting position

  • Repeat for 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps, trying to gain a little more depth and stretch each rep

 Make sure when you are doing this, you are pushing your chest up just as much as your hips towards the ceiling. It is common to lift the hips without shoulders moving at all. 

 Once you can comfortably lift your shoulders inline with your hips, fingers pointing directly behind you, time to start working on the more active version, the Crab Walk. 

 All the steps getting into the top position remain the same, but now once we are there, we get to actively coordinate hip and shoulder movement to propel us forward.

Start with short manageable distances to figure out the technique. As you become more comfortable start working 5 sets of 20-80 feet unbroken, maintain shoulder to hip level. 


Advanced: Barbell Roll-Outs 

The barbell roll-out is the most advanced of these exercises, primarily because it requires more active control of the shoulders as well as the addition of an external load.  

When done slowly and with straight elbows it is a great strengthening + mobility shoulder extension exercise. 

 Here is how to perform/coach this drill:

  • Start sitting on the floor in front of a barbell 

  • Place both hands, palms down, on the barbell, wrapping all five fingers around the bar. 

  • A great place to start is with pinkies wrapped around the furthest knurl mark. As you become more comfortable, you can work your hands closer together.

  • From here, pull your shoulder blades down and back, with straight elbows 

  • Slowly and under control let the barbell roll behind you as far as you comfortably can 

  • Pause for a moment in the end range 

  • When initiating the concentric a great cue to utilize is to push your hands into the barbell so the movement stays in the shoulders as opposed to turning it into a sit-up where the barbell is just along for the ride. 

  • Repeat for 3-5 sets of 7-10 reps, trying to gain a little more depth and stretch each rep

  • You are going to want to start with a light barbell and only increase as you become more comfortable. Depending on the size of your barbell as well as how well it rolls on your floor, using small plates on each side will help the bar move smoother as well as give your hands the necessary clearance. 

  

What’s Next? 

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