“Shoulders have been torn out from boxing as a amateur. What is the best way l can get my arms, shoulders strong with a kettlebell to keep them from popping out? Any workouts I should focus on? Routines?”
This article includes an awesome TRX drill which will allow you to clearly measure lat activation and progression, plenty of videos with kettlebell exercises for strong awesome shoulders, and bodyweight warm-ups. I.e. everything you need to obtain strong, injury free, and mobile shoulders. Share to help others.
- Lat Activation
- Kettlebell Exercises For The Shoulders
- Turkish getup
- Overhead walks
- Farmer walks
Because of their unilateral qualities and versatility, which provide super benefits to shoulders, for prevention and rehab, from beginner to advanced, for boxers, grapplers, mma fighters, crossfitters and more…
Your first focus should be lat activation, this will pull the ball into the socket and keep it there safely, hence, stopping it from popping out.
The safest form to work on this would be with a TRX. To perform, loop the handles so you only have one handle to work with. Laterally position yourself to the TRX, one hand holding the TRX, slowly release and let yourself come away from the anchor. Now activate your lats on the working side to pull the elbow into the ribs, maintain one straight line from the elbow to the anchor, if the line is not straight, it means you’re using your biceps rather than your lats. If you can’t keep the line straight, then increase distance between your feet and the anchor, i.e. move further away, this will reduce resistance.
I created this drill/exercise for my clients who could not activate their lats no matter what. I had to come up with an exercise in which there were clear visible signs whether the lats were working or not, this is it.
It’s such a great exercise because it allows you to focus on one side, where as most others usually require activation of both sides. Video of the lat activation drill here.
Once you’ve moved past this exercise, and built up some lat strength, understand how to activate the lat (MMC), then it’s time to add another drill. To perform, hang from a bar, activate your lats and pull the ball into it’s socket, now slowly release until safe max distance for your level. Repeat.
When starting out, keep reps low in the 4 to 6 range, each side, 4 rounds, move up to 10 reps over time.
Work on your shoulder strength from all angles. Slowly progress with weight, slowly progress with angles. Press from all angles, starting with the front, moving out to the side over time.
Test your maximum range each time, from every angle, but never to the point of danger, pain, or over exhaustion. Perform drills with resistance bands, PVC pipes etc.
Train all your muscles, working the prime movers is great for aesthetics, but working your stabilizers is what is going to give you stability. Stability is what’s going to help keep your shoulders safe and injury free. Work on shoulder rotation with exercises like the getup and windmill, perform overhead walks and holds.
Mobility is what you will achieve if you train long enough, and following the right path of progression.
Kettlebell Exercises For The Shoulders
There are tons of kettlebell exercises that are great for shoulder strength and flexibility, following are some of the best ones:
- Turkish getup (shoulder rotation)
- Windmill (shoulder rotation)
- Overhead walks (shoulder stability)
- Farmer walks (shoulder stability; works the upper traps, also important for shoulder safety and stability)
- Pressing (shoulder strength)
Don’t neglect the muscle groups that also help provide a stable base for your shoulders:
- Rhomboids, middle trapezius; rows
- Chest; any push-ups
This exercise is not usually something you’ll hear when talking about strong shoulders, after all, it’s an exercise for the upper trapezius (there is the upper, middle and lower), but they play a huge role in shoulder stabilization, hence, they work to protect your shoulders. Big freaking traps look cool, and also protect you from harm! Bang, start doing those farmer walks. I prefer single side because of it’s benefits, but that’s a story for another time.
Why believe anything I say? Fair question.
I’m a crossfitter, kettlebell professional, grappler, calisthenics enthusiast plus more, and my shoulders have been injury free for as long as I can remember, hence, I feel pretty confident talking to you about shoulder safety.
The kettlebell Turkish getup is awesome for shoulder rotation and stability.
This video contains a kettlebell windmill, the windmill is awesome for shoulder rotation and stability.
Rows and press
The row is an exercise you need to include if you want strong shoulders, they work the rear delts which are quite frequently overlooked in training. You have the front, side, and rear delts, front is commonly worked, side not so much, and the rear is commonly neglected unless you’re talking to bodybuilders. Row, row a lot!
The kettlebell press is awesome for shoulder strength and flexibility. Learn all variations, but make sure you progress properly, if not, you’ll get injured. Injury happen when you ego lift, don’t listen to your coach, train past exhaustion, or get lazy.
If you’re a beginner with kettlebells you can’t go past this video, it’s super important.
If you’re ready to progress, then make sure you include thoracic mobility, not being mobile in the thoracic means the shoulders might need to do things they should not.
Don’t start anything that’s advanced until you’re ready! The kettlebell Anyhow Windmill is great, looks cool, but not something you should tackle without proper progression.
Being advanced means that you know your body needs maintenance, give it the time it deserves.
The bent press is an exercise from the olden days, such a great exercise, but again, not something you should tackle until you’re ready. It’s probably one of the main kettlebell exercises you can use for your lats, then you also have rotation, stability, and strength.
Did I mention that you should give your body the attention it needs?
Okay, you’ve seen some awesome kettlebell stuff, admit it, you have! Now, why are kettlebells epic for you? Post your answer.
Unlock 9 more super videos with a simple share. Videos show: using body weight for warming up, flexibility, and mobility. Also includes windmill video with more instructions. And last but not least, the super important kettlebell halo.
“CrossFit Already Does Enough Overhead Strength Work!”
I got that comment from someone, and fair enough, let’s address it. Indeed there is already a lot of overhead barbell work, but let’s look at the position of the arms, and let’s look at the bilateral quality of the barbell, and compare that to some of the positions that you can achieve with the unilateral qualities of the kettlebell. Barbell work is often Y position, or between U and Y, with the kettlebell you can achieve rotation, and you need to end up right above the shoulders at the end of a press. But let’s not focus on the strength keyword too much, it’s all part of the full equation.
Demonstrating some ranges that you should be able to achieve with good shoulder and thoracic mobility. Demonstrating: Thoracic extension and flexion. Thoracic rotation. Scapular retraction and protraction. Scapular elevation and depression. Scapular upward rotation.