How To Protect, Stabilise & Build An Iron Set Of Shoulders

How To Protect, Stabilise & Build An Iron Set Of Shoulders

As a guest on Gymtalk today I have decided to tackle the topic of your shoulders.

You see the good ‘ole shoulder joint seems to be a problem area for many lifters and bodybuilders alike and there are generally some very common reasons for this.

So, as the guest for today, I’m going to attempt to tackle these reasons so that you can fix that ailing shoulder and get back to hammering out those weights like a wild honey badger.

The concept of mobility and stability

First of all, I want to get to something important regarding the joints of the body.

Don’t leave yet, because I know this sounds like I’m about to get all scientific on you, and in fact I am, but I’m going to try and make it entertaining.

So just take a deep breath and let’s knock out some science shall we?

Ok, now that I got that out of the way, I want to talk about an important concept known as the joint by joint approach to training that I wished I could take credit for, but I can’t.

As you can see, the shoulder joint in particular is a mobile joint.

So being that the shoulder joint is a mobile joint, the act of stability does fall onto the next stabilising joint.

However stability of a mobile joint also has to be present during the movement of that particular joint.

In other words, we want our shoulders to be mobile, but we don’t want them to be without stability either.

You see this is something I have to keep in mind particularly when working with a novice athlete.

A common mistake that I see take place regarding this is that many trainers will place a novice athlete that is lacking a respectable level of foundational strength onto the bench press to perform some presses.

Now, a good idea for a novice to create sound stability in the mobile shoulder joint would be to work on mastering their own bodyweight in a closed kinetic chain exercise (in constant contact with an immobile surface like the ground during push ups) in order to develop a solid level of core and shoulder stability.

Once this is done then it’s much easier for them to move onto working on an open kinetic chain exercise such as a bench press.

(Open kinetic: meaning that the hand or foot is free to move such as with handling a bar or dumbbell.)

Open kinetic chain?

Big words are flying!

However if a novice or someone that is merely out of practice decides to take on the traditional push up then there are some things for them to consider here as well.

So far so good right?

I mean all these science knowledge bombs aren’t coming down too hard are they?

The push up

OK, now on to the push up exercise.

The fact is that when taking on the traditional push up exercise there are other problem areas to concern ourselves with as well.

Once again remember the joint by joint approach I was talking about at the beginning of this post?

Well another joint or part of the shoulder girdle we want to examine here is the stability of the scapula.

Because the scapula is a stable joint during the push up we want to make sure it is stable and not collapsing downward when the trainee is performing the push up exercise in an unstable manner.

If the scapula is collapsing and not stable it usually results in a phenomenon I refer to as roostering.

When roostering occurs the trainee’s head goes reaching for the ground during the descent of the push up exercise.

The neck bobs up and down (like a rooster) and the scapula collapses in the process.

As you can see we want stability in a stable joint and mobility in a mobile joint.

The joint by joint approach is a solid measuring stick for making sure that the body is doing what it should be doing during certain movements.

How’s that for some science?

So, whether you are a beginner lifter or not, you should never abandon push ups in my opinion.

A great cure for this is to practice mastering rigidity in the body throughout the push up exercise.

A few ways you can improve on doing this is by implementing some static planks.

Perform the following protocol as part of some of your workouts throughout the week to build up this process.



  • Push ups: 3 x 10
  • Static plank: 2 x 45 second holds

Note: if you must, elevate your hands on a bench to redistribute more weight to your feet on the ground, maintaining strict rigidity and a full ROM.


  • Push ups: 3 x 10
  • Static plank: 2 x 1 minute holds

Note: for added intensity perform the push ups full on the ground maintaining strict rigidity of the body throughout.

Make sure you are strict with your ROM pushing to touch your chest from the floor to a complete lockout at the top!


  • Push ups: 3 x 10
  • Static plank: 3 x 1 minute holds

Note: if you need added intensity simply reverse the process of what I stated in the beginner note above.

Elevate your feet up to a bench to redistribute more weight to your hands which are on the ground.

Keep in mind that once you are able to accomplish the given tasks you can more easily perform free weighted movements.

Also don’t forget to incorporate a solid pulling variation of movements as well such as deadlifts, kettlebell swings, rows, and pull ups.

As a matter of fact I like to enforce either a 2 to 1, or 3 to 1 ratio of pulling movements to pushing movements.

In other words, for every pushing related drill you do make sure you perform 2 or 3 pulling movements, or 2 to 3 times the volume of a pulling movement.

This way you maintain a sound posture and reinforce the stability and functionality of your shoulders.

Signing off

So, there we have it, this is how you lay the foundation for an iron set of shoulders my friend.

I hope you enjoyed my guest post today on Gymtalk.

I always love coming onboard and doing my best to crack a joke or two while dropping some training strategies into the mix to add onto the loads of terrific content these guys already have over here.

If you are interested in learning more about my crazy methods and how I approach working with my athletes then please make sure you subscribe to become one of my members.

It’s completely free and you get some awesome free stuff for doing so.

I always like to end with saying that almost anyone can train hard, but only the best train smart.

So start your smart training here today!

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