You can’t get stronger unless you work your weakest muscles…or ‘you are only as strong as your weakest link’. It doesn’t matter how you say it an imbalance of muscle strength in your body will inhibit your progress if your desire is to get stronger. One of the major areas of weakness are the muscles that pull your shoulder blades together. The major reason for this is poor posture which has been exasperated by the advent of personal electronic communications devices I.e. Commuters, iPads, Cellphones, etc.
As I’ve said in previous posts a lot of the cause of shoulder and other upper limb injuries is from forward head postural mal alignments. One of the exercises I made the Football players I conditioned do was a Standing Fly/Lateral Dumbbell Raise Combination. I also checked that they did the exercises correctly by enduring that their Shoulder Blades came together at the outer ranges of the movements . But I made them do it as a precautionary measure and if they had shoulder issues I added the two movements as demonstrated in the photos below: firstly exactly as the photos depict, then on the cable machine…starting with very light resistances. But how to do these exercises properly…
To Start. Lie down on the floor with your head to either one side or the other (best to alternate or keep your forehead on the floor). With your arms at 90 degrees to your body bend your elbows and form a ‘W’ shape (as in the picture) and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Also pull your thumbs upwards towards the roof. Do this slowly and pause at the top of this very short movement for a second or so while keeping your forehead on the floor. Complete 10 repetitions.
Then do the second movement, this time with your arms straight and out in front of your body (check the photo). Lead with your thumbs again as you lift your hands and straight arms off the floor as far as you comfortably can keeping your forehead on the floor (again, a very short movement). Complete 10 repetitions. Alternate between these two movements do three sets of ten each.
Then. Do this movement either on a Cable Machine or with a Resistance Band attached to a stable base at about waist to shoulder height and always leading with your thumbs. The tendency when doing these movements standing is that your shoulders will rise…keep them as low as possible to maintain the correct position and a stable base. You can also do these movements with very light (1 -5 kilogram) dumbbells…either in a Bent Over position or lying on a Swiss Ball supported by your lower chest and feet. (See the photo below but with your arms bent at the elbow or straight out in front as described above). As you see you don’t need to start holding dumbbells.
Next. You can progress to Inverted Row ensuring that you squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement. Keep to same number of sets and repetitions for these exercises.
Finally. If you are strong enough you can progress onto Pull Ups (palms facing away from you). Build up until you can complete three sets of ten repetitions of perfect Pull Ups.
Augmentation. To augment these exercises you can strengthen your muscles at the back of your neck by using a Resistance Band at both neck and head height, pushing back into it while keeping your chin tucked down slightly. Do the same number of sets and repetitions as in the exercises above.
Get the most from your workouts by ensuring you work on the detail.
If you wish for any exercise advice you can contact me through this Website.