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Podcast Notes: The best exercises for your shoulders

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Summer is here. The gyms are finally reopening post-COVID. But, odds are, you’re behind on your training. And that’s okay. It’s understandable. Not having a gym for three months will do that.

The thing is - how you choose to come back can make or break you.

Do you come back with strong, solid workouts? Or do you throw in the towel.

The quickest way to come back is by using the right exercises!

This series breaks down the best exercises by body part, starting with the shoulders today. Let’s get into it.


Shoulder Press (Standing or Z-Press, Barbell or Dumbbell)

Reasoning: Compound exercise allowing for high loads and heavy pressing. The vertical pressing pattern is functional and demands the entire deltoid, upper pec, triceps, and rotator cuff get involved in the exercise. You can also get a pretty nice core workout from this if you slow it down and brace!


In your workout: 3-5 sets, 5-12 reps, depending on your goal. I typically do this/program it earlier in my workouts, and I like the 4-5 sets for 5-8 rep range the best. Standing barbell and dumbbell Z-press are my favorite variations.


Bottom’s-up (BU) KB Press

Reasoning: My favorite shoulder exercise (my PT hat comes on). This exercise compliments the BB Shoulder Press or Z-Press perfectly, as you want lighter weights here. I typically use a 20-25 lb kettlebell. The shoulder stability required for this exercise is insane. Your rotator cuff will be working hard! It may be hard at first, and that’s okay! Start low and progress slowly. Strengthening the rotator cuff is fundamental in shoulder injury prehab and rehab. This exercise also fits perfectly with a warmup or cool-down, or can be paired with a turkish get-up.


In your workout: 3 sets of 10-15 reps will do wonders. You can put this anywhere!


Landmine Viking Press

Reasoning: Another compound shoulder exercise, this is one I like to train for power. The functionality and athletic carryover of an explosive, powerful, multi-grip press is unreal. Bust these out fast and explosive, and feel the difference on game-day, or add some serious explosiveness to your lifts. This variation is much more straightforward and simple than a thruster, push press, or other olympic lift. No viking press attachment? Do a single-arm jammer press!


In your workout: Lighter weight (45-90 lbs is usually where I fall) works well with 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps. Again, these are explosive reps - go fast! I typically do this one towards the end of my workout.


Sword Raise

Reasoning: Many bodybuilders focus on building their medial deltoid head. That’s great! However, performing lateral raises with internally rotated shoulders (like most people do) can lead to shoulder impingement and pain from banging the greater tubercle of the humerus against the coracoacromial arch. So - the best way to work the medial head of the deltoid is shoulder abduction with external rotation. Enter the sword raise, which does just that!

In your workout: Great for prehab or rehab, in a warmup, or towards the end of a workout as a finisher. Can be done with a band at home or cable at the gym. Try 3 sets of 10-12 reps!


Cable Facepull

Reasoning: My go-to for building the upper back and posterior deltoid. The facepull pairs scapular retraction and shoulder extension, creating an awesome exercise for these muscles. This is great for posture, but also to activate these upper back muscles prior to pressing.


In your workout: Use as a warmup with lighter weight, or pair with bench press (one of my favorite pairings). Can also be used as an accessory exercise. 4-5 sets of 8-12 reps. Really change up the tempo here, too! A 2-3 second isometric hold each rep can go a long ways!


Like what we’re doing? Please give us a like and subscribe, and check us out on social media, @brawnbody!


Information in this post is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease or condition. Consult your primary care provider prior to making any changes in your diet or lifestyle habits as discussed.



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