7 Shoulder Stretches That Boost Your Weight Lifting

 MUSCLE-UP WEEK 8: The second deloading week strength session is dedicated to mobility. I personally have tight packs and stiff shoulders, which means bad technique and bad posture, which mean failing many exercises and exhausting myself way too early in MetCons. Muscle is not enough!

  • Intensity: Moderate / High / Extreme
  • Volume: Light / Heavy / You are kidding with me
  • Strategy: Pace it / Max-out / Mixed

The athletes on the Mobility class in a gym always suffer the loudest. Also, they pay their membership to lie around on the ground, almost motionless. (While they are suffering loud.) All the others make the best return on their investment: CrossFit athletes work out on the pull-up bars, boxes and ropes rapidly like Flash, and weight lifting hulks raise heavy metals up into the air. None of them makes so much noise as the lazy ones on the floor: moaning and crying and posing for a Gothic painting about the Inferno.

The curse of the shoulder blades

The key to this mystery is a tennis ball stuck between their scapular muscles and the ground. I am one of them – I mean on of the martyrs on the ground, not the scapular muscles. Apparently, this medieval extenuation turns me into a flexible weight lifter. Why? Because of the scapulae, known as the shoulder blades by their maiden name, are responsible for the healthy movements of the shoulders: elevation, depression, retraction, protraction, rotation upwards and downwards.

Why? Because of the scapulae, aka the shoulder blades, are responsible for the healthy movements of the shoulders: elevation, depression, retraction, protraction, rotation upwards and downwards. For example, when you power snatch with a barbell you are using almost all these movements. In your starting position you retract your shoulders; when you pull the bar in the middle of the movement, the scapulae elevate; in the final rapid movement, during the snatch, your shoulders rotate upwards.

Why is it so bad?

I have terribly tight packs and stiff shoulders. If you are coming from a martial arts background, like me, you are struggling with the same curse of the tight, protective position, when the fists are held tightly against your chin and jaws for hours of training. Also, if you work in an office and spend hours with the mouse and the keyboard, you have also maneuvered into the dead end of the evolution.We need our flexible shoulders in many movements, not only weight lifting. Rope climbing, monkey bars, crawling, wall climb-overs, and many weight carry exercises seek after this strength and flexibility.

We need our flexible shoulders in many movements, not only weight lifting. Rope climbing, monkey bars, crawling, wall climb-overs, and many weight carry exercises seek after this strength and flexibility.

Stretches and exercises

Here are a few stretches suggested by Kamil and other trainers at The Athlete Centre in Oxford. In each case be cautious: stretch slowly and every time warms up your shoulders before the start. Take a look at Skeleton Jack and follow his example.

  1. External rotation. Grab a vertical bar or pillar. Keep your thumbs upwards, elbows locked and slowly turn your whole body outwards.Rubber band upward stretch. Tie the rubber band on the pull-up bar. Put the other end of the band around your wrist and walk backwards. When the band is tight, let your bodyweight do the job as you are sitting back. Keep your chins down, your back straight, and the elbows locked. Your thumbs should point upwards.
  2. Rubber band upward stretch. Tie the rubber band on the pull-up bar. Put the other end of the band around your wrist and walk backwards. When the band is tight, let your body weight do the job as you are sitting back. Keep your chins down, your back straight, and the elbows locked. Your thumbs should point upwards.
  3. Tennis ball extenuations. Take a ball, put it on the ground and lie on top of it. The ball should push against the muscles between your blades and spine. Move around slowly, try to find the stiffest area. Yes, it is the most painful point.
  4. Tennis ball extenuations, another one. Turn on your belly and the tennis ball should push against your pack just under the shoulder. Same torture as before…
  5. Do Number 3. and 4. but this time slowly stretch your arms above your head, touching the ground. Some movement with the arms while the tennis ball is under you both work better and bring back memories from your past (your life flash in front of your eyes).
  6. Hang from the pull-up bar. You should hold yourself for at least 20 seconds. Also, the political situation in the world is getting less and less reliable, look at Turkey or Russia – so practice, you might have to hang for long in an unlucky scenario.
  7. Plate stretch. Grab a foam roll and a 2.5-5-kg plate. Lie on your back, put the foam roll under your lower back. Take the plate and hold it up with locked elbows. Now slowly start stretching your arms above your head without bending your elbows. Try to touch the ground above your head.The bad news is that you will have to repeat this horror 3 times a week, otherwise, you suffer for nothing. But in a few months your snatch will be very very very very grateful.
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