Although you only get one set of shoulders, if you’re not cautious, you can batter them during your workouts without realizing it. Luckily, you don’t have to resign yourself to this fate.
Shoulder tweaks and injuries are a commonality in the fitness world, but a wealth of them can be prevented with a smart shoulder warm up that focuses on the health of one of the most delicate and versatile joints in your body.
The best part is that it only takes 5 to 10 minutes to get your shoulders and the surrounding muscles adequately warmed up with these shoulder exercises. The payoff is immense as the warmup prepares you to lift more weights pain-free and correctly.
In this guide, we’ll discuss how you can bulletproof your shoulders and end the nagging shoulder pain from lifting.
1. A Band Pull-Apart on a Foam Roller
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While a regular pull-apart using a resistance band is great, you can try a more focused approach with a foam roller. It serves as your external cue, allowing you to activate the postural stabilizers of your shoulder girdle while putting a passive stretch through the muscles of your anterior shoulders and chest. To get started:
- Lay flat on your back on the foam roller
- Put your arms over your head while exerting slight resistance on the band
- Pull the band in a downward direction towards the sides while retaining a scapular retraction
- Perform three sets of 8 to 10 reps
2. Isometric External Rotation Holds with a Band
It’s a shoulder warm up that will get the muscles in your posterior rotator cuff fired up. When executed properly, isometric external rotation holds with a resistance band can be a game-changer for the health of your posture and shoulders. To perform the exercise:
- Stand straight with your thumbs facing your sides while the band is tightly wrapped around your wrists.
- Steer the band in an outward direction while concurrently driving your elbows inwards towards the sides of your body.
- Maintain the position for 5 seconds and perform three sets of 5 reps
3. One Arm Dumbbell High Pulls
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While you can perform this shoulder warm up with both arms, the one-arm dumbbell high pull is a better variation as it exposes functional shoulder mobility or muscular imbalances right off the bat. To begin:
- Stand and maintain a shoulder-width distance between your feet.
- Position the dumbbell at your waist, then steer it up to your collarbone, allowing your elbow to take the lead. Focus on keeping your body at a square position without rotating.
- Rather than driving your elbows back, pull straight up to mimic the movement of zipping up a jacket. Doing so will ensure a level of internal rotation as you pull.
- You can opt for a lighter weight to hit a 2-2-2-2 tempo that involves a two-second pull, two seconds to hold at the top, two seconds to lower the dumbbell, and two seconds at the bottom.
4. Lean Back and Loiter
It’s an excellent warm up to stabilize the muscles around your shoulder blade and fire them up. To get started:
- Stand one or two feet from a wall and lean back into it.
- Ensure only the tips of your elbows are in contact with the wall.
- If you’re up for a challenge, you can switch things up by taking one or two steps away from the wall. You’ll feel like you’re fighting hard to prevent your back and arms from collapsing onto the wall. If that happens, you’re a tad bit far from the wall.
- Perform 2 or 3 sets of 20 seconds with as much distance from the wall as you can handle.
5. Shoulder Extension Stretch
To perform this shoulder warm up:
- Sit with your feet flat on the ground, your knees bent and reaching as far behind as possible with your hands.
- As you do so, keep your arm straight and ensure your fingers are facing away from your torso.
- Remember, the closer your hands are together, the deeper the stretch.
- Maintain this position for 1min and 30 seconds before your workout.
6. Floor Overhead Flexion with a Resistance Band
As a step up from your conventional floor overhead flexion movement, this variation with a resistance band will guarantee ideal patterning before you perform overhead and upper body lifting. Furthermore, using the band taps into the synergistic spiral effect of your shoulders. To perform this shoulder warm up:
- Lay flat on your back while using both hands to hold the band just above your head.
- Make sure there’s a slight amount of tension on the band
- Move your arms back towards the floor into an overhead flexion pattern while maintaining resistance to the band.
- Perform two sets of 10 reps
7. Push-Up Holds with Alternating Shoulder Taps
You can give this shoulder warm up a try to boost shoulder stability in addition to serious core engagement. As you do so, remember the position of your core, legs, and hips. Additionally, ensure you can maintain a tight push-up position throughout your body before progressing to the taps. To perform push-up holds with alternating shoulder taps:
- Maintain a push-up hold at the top
- Make sure your core is perfectly engaged and ready for action
- Use your right hand to slowly tap your left shoulder
- Switch sides until you complete your desired number of reps
8. Supinated Grip Deadhang Hold
Just as the name indicates, it’s a Deadhang hold with a chin-up or Supinated grip.
- Keep your shoulders active as you hang and focus on keeping your pelvis turned up, your ribcage down, and your feet together, as though you’re attempting to pee on your face.
- In a nutshell, aim for an ideal hollow body position.
- Perform two sets of 20 seconds to 45 seconds of this shoulder warm up.
9. Yoga Push-Up
Although there are many variations of yoga push-ups, the option we’ll discuss has three positions. To begin:
- Lower your body into the bottom of a push-up while keeping your hips low and your shoulders raised.
- In doing so, you’ll form an extended spine position.
- Steer your butt into the air and push your head through your arms until you notice a shoulder stretch.
- Ensure you keep your knees straight.
10. Reach, Roll and Lift
Isolating the lower trap area during your shoulder warm up is the key to optimizing the health of your shoulders. Here’s where this drill comes into play. To get started:
- Position yourself on the floor in a quadruped posture. Your elbows are relatively closer to your knees to provide access to sufficient motion when you eventually propel your arms forward.
- As your palms face the ground, slide your right arm forward.
- Roll your palm open to allow your right thumb to point upwards, facing the ceiling.
- Lift your right arm towards the ceiling as you keep your arm as straight as possible
- Revert to the starting position.
- Perform five reps per side and three sets of this warmup, and you’re good to go.
Whether your goal is to improve shoulder mobility for better formation, iron out muscle imbalances, or stabilize and strengthen fairly healthy shoulders, these shoulder exercises are perfect for incorporating into your everyday warm up routine. Remember, consistency is the key to seeing results.