6 Shoulder Exercises to Improve Strength, Mobility and Stability for Weightlifting and Crossfit

If you want to be the best then you have to learn from the best.

Firstly, before we look at the 6 shoulder exercises that Aleksey recommends, watch the demonstration below of his shoulder and full body strength.

Aleksey Torokhtiy is a Ukrainian weightlifter. He won the gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in the men’s 105 kg category with a total of 412 kg. He finished in 11th place at the 2008 Olympics. Check out his simple technique and exercise advice in order to improve your own lifts, strength and mobility.

6. BANDED SHOULDER WARM UP

Complete this warm up complex using a resistance band. This will get you prepared for the other exercises ahead. 

“I use resistance bands in every training session to warm up my shoulders as much as possible and prepare them for training”

ABDUCTION

  • 10 reps as slow as possible
  • Twice for both hand

REDUCTION

Keep your arms straight.

CIRCULAR ROTATION

  • Continue until you feel the burn. Around 20 rotations per arm. This counts as 1 set
  • Do 2- 3 sets

“I think everyone feels this movement in a different way.”

5. PUSH UP / BENCH DIP COMPLEX

PUSH UP

Set up a box and two benches (as seen in the video below). Make sure to pause for 1 – 2 seconds at the bottom of the push up as this will create a good stretch in your shoulders.

BENCH DIPS

Go slow as you lower your body downwards (the eccentric portion). Pause at the bottom. 

You can use this as both a strength building exercise or as part of a warm up. If you choose to include it in your warm up then perform a much lower number of repetitions. There is no point frying your shoulders before the main lifts and exercises in your training session.

Aim for 2/3 sets.

4. SHOULDER RAISE WITH PLATES

This exercise is very popular with the Chinese weightlifters and trainers. 

  • Take a plate in each hand
  • bend forward slightly
  • hold your body in an “active position”. Spine straight, knees slightly bent
  • don’t let the plates touch your body
  • maintain a slow and controlled movement

Do 2 – 3 sets of 8 – 10 reps each

EXERCISES

These 3 exercises require a basic level in Crossfit and Olympic Weightlifting

3. SOTTS PRESS

TECHNIQUE

  • rack the barbell
  • squat and fold your elbows up
  • push your head through the hole once the barbell is above your head (in the same way you would do with an overhead press)
  • concentrate on bringing your shoulder blades together and squeeze the shoulders up

SCALING THE SOTTS PRESS

Many people find the Sotts Press a difficult exercise to perform, so here is the scaled version that Aleksey recommends. 

Over time, as your mobility and strength improves, you can slowly lower the bench until you are able to perform a full Sotts Press.

2. OVERHEAD PRESS WITH BANDED WEIGHTS

Concentrate on holding and stabilising the weight. Don’t worry about trying to perform high amounts of reps or lifting as much weight as possible. 

  • The pause should last at least 4 seconds each time
  • Keep the weights small and increase the weight gradually
  • You can use a snatch or a clean grip for this exercise

1. OVERHEAD PRESS WITH BANDED WEIGHTS FROM SPLIT JERK POSITION

This exercise is the same movement as number 2 above, however your feet must be placed in the split jerk position. 

To make the exercise even more challenging, add a squat into the movement. Maintain the overhead position then dip your leg until your knee touches the floor. This will really test your stabilisation throughout the full range of motion. This exercise is also a great way to identify and pinpoint any weaknesses in your core strength and overhead mobility. 

For all of these exercises, understanding how your shoulders and thoracic spine move, work and operate will help you to become a better athlete. Knowledge is power.

Scapular Health: 4 Banded Mobility Exercises to Bulletproof Your Shoulders

The Importance of Thoracic Mobility For Crossfitters

6 Tips to Improve Overhead Squat Mobility & Technique for Crossfitters

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About The Author

Editor-In-Chief at BOXROX. I come from a background of rugby and weightlifting. Growing up in the English Lake District, I spent a great deal of time swimming in its stunning lakes and rivers. In 2015 my brothers and I became the first people to swim the 145km length of the River Eden, from source to mouth, in 9 days. We also swam the Corryvreckan whirlpool, the third largest in the world, and Crossfit is a huge part of my training for these events.

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