Saturday, September 13, 2008

My shoulders feel great!

Last year I needed to improve my shoulder flexibility to accommodate changes in how I train. I believed my shoulder flexibility was good for a middle-age man, but not great like when I was younger. With no aches and pains troubling me, I did recall recent episodes of shoulder discomfort.

Now my shoulder flexibility is much better and my shoulders feel great, thanks to a flexibility exercise I regularly perform. I call this exercise the shoulder dislocate/overhead squat combo. It is a compound movement of two exercises – (1) the shoulder dislocate and (2) the overhead squat – performed with a wooden pole.

Shoulder dislocate - Grasp a wooden pole or PVC pipe tightly with a wide grip, but only as wide as necessary to perform the exercise. As your flexibility improves, your width grip will become narrower and that should be your goal. Start with your arms locked and in front of your body with the pole resting on your thighs while standing tall.

Take a deep breath, maintaining a tight grip on the pole with locked arms. Slowly raise it in front until it is over your head and then lower it slowly behind you until the pole rests across your glutes. The path follows a complete circle. To complete a stand-alone shoulder dislocate, reverse the path and return the pole to the starting position. But since this exercise incorporates an overhead squat, stop the return path at the overhead press position to begin the overhead squat.

Overhead squat – From the overhead press position with locked arms, descend and perform a deep knee bend. You’ll need to stick your glutes backwards and counter-balance by inclining your arched back forward while maintaining the locked arm overhead press position. This is a difficult position for most beginners. You’ll have to spread your feet farther apart than usual and point your toes outward so you can descend into this squat position without feeling cramped at the bottom. Once in your rock bottom position, stand up and return the pole to the shoulder dislocate starting position. You have just completed one repetition of this flexibility exercise.

How many reps should you perform? – That is for you to determine. I like to perform multiple sets of between 5 and 10 repetitions as part of a warm-up circuit of various flexibility exercises. Sometimes, however, I perform a single set of 50 repetitions, finding that this many is a great whole-body warm-up and elevates my heart rate.

Demonstration - Here is a video of me demonstrating this exercise. Keep in mind that I shot this video late at night after a hard training day, so I was tired and my muscles were sore. I performed this exercise with bare feet making it tougher for me to get into a deep rock bottom squat position. Normally I wear training shoes with slightly elevated heels, making it easier to maintain a proper tilt of my pelvic area while descending into a deep squat position.

Here’s the video:

Final thoughts – I recommend you use a wooden pole as it is less accommodating than a PVC pipe, exercise band or towel. Some people with great flexibility might be able to perform this exercise with a visualized prop. I am not one of those people. Since the exercise is to improve your flexibility, a wooden pole will challenge your flexibility the most. You can accommodate your current lack of flexibility by grip width. The wooden pole I am using was made and given to me by Olympic weightlifting legend Tommy Kono and bears his autograph. It is one of my personal treasures.

Thanks to Mr. Kono for the explanations of these exercises which come from his book Weightlifting, Olympic Style. And a second thanks to Mr. Kono because my shoulders feel great!

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum


Chris said...


Those are great exercises and there's no doubt that they've worked for you. I watched your video of you snatching 155. That's quite impressive.

If you have any more shoulder issues, you might want to take a look at the Rotater. It's being used by a variety of professional athletes for their shoulder rehab and shoulder stretching needs.


Pierini Fitness said...

Hi Chris, and thanks for stopping by Pierini Fitness, taking the time to share.

I don't have any shoulder issues at the moment but I will take a look at the Rotater.

Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

Hello -

This is a superb exercise. I have been performing it daily for the past several days and have already seem a drastic improvement. Thanks for passing it along.

Best regards,


Pierini Fitness said...

Hello Wolfgang and thanks for stopping by.

The exercise makes not only my shoulders feel great but my whole body.

Have a great day!