A few weeks ago I put up a post detailing some of my favorite exercises to help keep your shoulders in balance and as healthy as possible.
In case you missed it, click here to read it.
Anyway, I was blown away with all the attention it got.
So I thought I’d write a follow-up post on shoulder health. Specifically, I want to cover shoulder stability.
Why Shoulder Stability?
Don’t get me wrong, strength is an absolute necessity. But, in order to get the most out of your training plan, you need to train your muscles they way they’re going to fire on the mat.
For instance, core strength is a must for wrestling.
However, if you don’t train your core to stabilize, you won’t be optimally prepared for the specific situations that I cover in that post.
Similarly, you may have the strongest shoulders on your team. However, if you haven’t trained your shoulders to stabilize, you run a higher risk of injury.
So, if you’re in the process of rehabbing a shoulder injury or just want to help keep them healthier this upcoming season, here are a few of my top picks.
1. Crazy Bells
I first learned of this through Westside Barbell. Since, I have used it on and off with anyone who has expressed to me that they are rehabbing a shoulder injury, or have had a history of injuries.
Additionally, it’s a great way to help create a consistent bench pattern because it forces the lifter to use precise and predictable technique.
Although it was originally used with Kettlebells (thus the name), hanging plates from bands works fine too. Here’s what the setup looks like:
And here’s what a few reps looks like:
As you can see in the video, the stabilization component in this exercise is HUGE.
…below is a quick video of an Upstate NY car dealer; enjoy.
Anyway, completely unrelated, but it came to mind as I was typing this and thought I would share one of my favorite radio personalities whenever I go up to Syracuse to train Jiu-Jitsu.
2. Ball Pushup
This is a great alternative to Crazy Bells.
From what I’ve found and the feedback I’ve been given, the wider your hands, the easier this exercise is. So start with a wider hand placement and work your way in as your stability improves.
3. Partner Distraction
I can’t remember where I learned this, but it was towards the end of my college days. It was either from my Neuromuscular Control professor, Jeff Ives, or Physical Therapist, Mike Hope. Both are geniuses, so I highly recommend this exercise.
All it requires is a partner, so it’s simple to execute.
Here is one way to perform this exercise:
Like the other examples above, all this exercise is training your shoulder muscles to do is stabilize in an unpredictable and unstable environment.
Does it specifically simulate situations on a mat?
But it is training your shoulder musculature to fire as stabilizers, which is ultimately the objective of this type of training.
4. Alternate Arm Presses
Although less sporadic and chaotic, alternate arm press variations are great. In combination with Partner Distraction, it may be just what you’re looking for to bridge the gap between some of the more difficult exercises like Crazy Bells and Ball Pushups.
Here’s an older video of me cranking out some heavy DB Presses using this technique:
You can perform this type of press at any angle you like. If you experience pain, simply make an adjustment.
For instance, does it agitate your shoulders when you perform this exercise on a flat bench?
Perhaps try it on a decline bench (because the rotation on the shoulder is less as I covered in this post).
Or, consider performing these on the floor to reduce the motion at the shoulder.
5. Benching Properly
As a wrestler shoulder pain is pretty inevitable. So, in all honesty, the best thing you can do to help keep your shoulders healthy is to minimize the stress they encounter outside of the wrestling room.
One of the most common ways to agitate your shoulders is through benching. However, you can greatly reduce and even eliminate the stress on your shoulders by improving your technique.
The most important thing, in terms of shoulder health, to focus on is learning how to squeeze your shoulder blades together AND maintain that tightness throughout your set.
Here’s a video of what benching can look like when your shoulder blades aren’t tight before benching:
And here’s one of what things look like when you have your shoulder blades squeezed together:
Notice how I pinch my shoulder blades together before I lift the bar off. Also, note how my shoulders stay packed throughout the set.
I know it’s tough to compare because the videos are exaggerated, but if you don’t bench with that tightness, you have probably experienced the erratic behavior.
Anyway, a great way to learn how to properly attain this squeeze is by doing band pullaparts:
Like I said above, shoulder pain and injuries are bound to happen in wrestling.
However, you can greatly decrease your chances of sustaining a major injury with proper training.
So take a page out of my old man’s book and “be proactive, not reactive” by implementing some of the exercises above.
And, of course, if you have any questions on shoulder health leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.