Most people want strong, healthy, pain-free shoulders. Yet it can be a mystery on how to achieve that and identify exactly what it looks like. I’d imagine it would be along the lines of moving your shoulder and not have it sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies.
Accomplishing this goes beyond the endless cycle of internal/external band rotations you may have been doing before your next bench session.
If we don’t address them, we're often left trying to deal with the aches and pains that come with training.
Shoulders have a lot of moving parts and a lot of freedom in their movement. That freedom is both a blessing and a curse, as it presents a lot of room for potential gains, but also numerous opportunities for pain and/or injury.
We can develop pain-free movement at the shoulder by concentrating on strengthening the muscles that control movement at the thoracic spine, shoulder blade and the shoulder joint itself.
A great way to incorporate shoulder strengthening exercises is by using a Free Motion or Cable machine, as such equipment allows for a wide array of movements than a dumbbell or barbell.
Although we can use any number of tools to improve or maintain shoulder health, cables allow for constant tension throughout the movement. This ensures that the muscles are working through the entire set.
With the right cable exercises, we can reduce weak points, activate muscles and remove any movement restrictions an athlete might have. With that in mind, try these four cable exercises for strong, healthy shoulders.
Facepull to Overhead Press
This first exercise is a double dose of awesome. The facepull is a great shoulder exercise, but when you combine it with a press overhead, you get those upper back/ shoulder muscles fired up.
The key to this one is making sure that 1) during the press, you’re keeping solid alignment
2) you don’t go too heavy as this will be harder at the top of the movement than the facepull itself.
One of the downsides to doing Cable W's or any W for that matter is that compensations end up popping up. One way to take that away is to lay on the floor. This way we can focus on hitting the shoulders with this exercise, as it's meant to be.
These don’t need to be heavy in order to be effective and work well to keep the shoulders in tip-top shape.
This exercise keeps tension on the muscles of the shoulders and upper back while you move through a full range of motion. As the arms get closer to overhead, the harder it will get, so adjust your weights accordingly.
Additionally, avoid letting the arms drift forward and letting your alignment go. One thing to be aware of is not to shrug the shoulders as you bring the arms up. Keep those shoulders away from your ears!
4 Way Shoulder Fly
Similar to the above Snow Angel, this cable exercise is a variation of a Rear Delt Fly. It targets the smaller muscles of the shoulder along with working the joint through upward and downward rotation. You end up tackling a few movements all at once with this exercise.
Rear Delt Fly
We're going back to something basic with the rear delt fly, which is the often ignored head of the shoulders. Why? Because you can't see it, and if you can't see it, why work on it. Well for shoulder health of course.
What we want to focus on with these is reaching out to the sides instead of pinching the shoulder blades together.