I think every powerlifter has been asked this question a thousand times…
“Hey, how much do ya bench?”
If you are anything like me, you wish your answer was bigger. We all want to bench more, increase our total and reach the goals we set for ourselves, but we often run into problems along the way… yes I’m talking about injuries! Consistency over a long period will provide results, but consistency requires health. Some of the most common injuries in strength training come down to something related to the shoulder girdle or the musculature surrounding it, yet we continue to ramp up the intensity and volume without taking any precautions to avoid injury that could set you back weeks, months or years. The true way to strength is injury free and something I like to call “Performance Within Longevity”.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand the need to push your limits, hit the heavyweight and drive yourself towards your goals – but consider that there may be a more balanced way. Assuming you either understand the key principles around programming or have a coach, you should be over-reaching in a controlled manner that won’t leave you broken…however, that’s not always enough. If we don’t address muscle tightness and/or dysfunction, commit to building stability within and around the joint, train through full ranges of motion and strengthen muscular imbalances, we can run into issues.
The shoulder is a complex joint, a rather shallow ball and socket joint called the Glenohumeral joint. This shallow joint does allow for great ranges of motion, and in conjunction with the scapula allows us to move our humerus through many varied ranges of movement. Now, with great motion comes a requirement for great stability, and this is what we want to achieve when running our mobility drills or corrective exercises. A healthy stable joint will ensure you less risk of injury thus allowing you to potentially tolerate more training intensity and volume over a longer time frame providing better results… and let’s be honest, who has time for injuries anyway?
Let’s discuss some of the more common, reoccurring issues that arise and a few simple, easy ways to help us avoid them.
COMMON SHOULDER ISSUES FOR POWERLIFTERS:
a) Restricted, tight or dysfunctional anterior musculature
Medial or internal rotators of the shoulder – Pec maj, min, teres maj, lats, anterior deltoids, subscapularis and more.
b) Poor and restricted mobility and motion of the scapula
Trapezius, Levator Scapulae, Rhomboids & Serratus Anterior. It’s very common when we are constantly depressing, retracting in order to perform compound lifts and benching.
c) Instability of the shoulder joint.
Our shoulders require functional, stability stimulus in training. Meaning, we can’t only train exclusive areas of movement and build strength in limited ranges of motion and then neglect the rest. Due to the anatomy of the shoulder complex, the musculature surrounding the shoulder girdle requires stability to lead to greater force production in a safe and stable manner, reducing the need for overcompensations that can lead to injury.
d) Muscle imbalance of shoulder.
Weak external rotators or horizontal abductors (Infraspinatus, supraspinatus & teres minor/rear deltoids & lats), or lack of end-range external rotation due to anterior muscle tightness.
Based on the above factors, see below my shoulder mobility script, which is a general holistic approach to getting you back on track for a healthy shoulder. Try this out next time you’re in the gym and integrate it into your mobility routine or warm-ups.
Let me know how you go! You can reach me on instagram @brogansamuelwilliams
Shoulder Drop Stretch w/ band
Placing the humerus into horizontal abduction and external rotation in efforts to counterbalance that anterior pull commonly caused by tight internal or medial rotators.
3 sets of 1 min per side
See video below:
Mace/Shoulderok 360 Swing
See my blog for more information on the MACE.
Taking the shoulder through varied ranges of motion, training stability, control, and coordination.
3 sets of 10 reps per grip
See video below:
Full R.O.M External Rotation + Scapulae Drill
Cueing the scapulae through full range of motion while strengthening shoulder external rotation.
3 sets of 10 reps
See video below:
Thanks for stopping by! As always, feel free to contact me on @BroganSamuelWilliams or [email protected] if you have any questions.